Tuesday, November 10, 2009

That Lovely Ring of Truth

While shaving my head a few minutes ago (when's the last time you heard a woman say that?), I thought about my old therapist, for some reason. A couple of months ago, her daughter had called to tell me that she'd finally passed away of Alzheimer's.

I was a patient of this woman for about 18 years, right up until I could see that something was terribly amiss in her behavior about 10 years ago. I believe I've told my story about her here (I can't even remember my own posts anymore), but it isn't important in terms of my thoughts about her this morning.

It was her courage and fearlessness that popped into my mind, and how she taught me over the years to never really fear what was in my heart, no matter how dark it felt at any given moment.

No matter how distraught I could get over things in my life--past, present or future--MH always helped me face my fears head-on, particularly the ones I could have about my own sanity.

She seemed to embody a fundamental truth about life, which is that in the realm of emotions, there is nothing so dark that can't be faced, as when a truth is spoken, you truly are set free.

In that moment, one realizes that the agonizing torment of a particular situation doesn't really need a resolution at all, as when that spark of enlightenment, of insight, occurs, all things really do feel right again. For me, faith wasn't just restored; it was perhaps born for the first time--faith in the therapeutic process, faith in a power greater than myself, and faith--true faith--in another human being.

This was the wondrous feeling I'd so often get while driving home after a session. Never would I feel so relaxed, so at home in the world, as when I'd leave her office after an incredibly intense and satisfying therapeutic exchange. It was such a comfort, and so empowering, to feel that I no longer needed to cower, to appease, to ruminate, or to obsess in order to feel safe in a dangerous world. As time went by and my true self began to emerge (I actually began playing guitar and writing songs at age 35), it was as though an inner garden had sprung to life, and I was embarking at last on the journey of my becoming.

But then I was stricken with such pain and illness in '99 (at age 40). Everything I thought I knew shattered into a million pieces, and shattered even more in '05, when the pain took up round-the-clock surveillance of my soul, seeing just how much pressure it could exert before I cracked. It didn't take long.

So now I'm left wondering: All those strides I'd made with MH, all the new beliefs I'd developed, all the faith that lit my spirit, all the magic I'd feel from those mysterious "helping hands" that seemed to bring me exactly what I needed when I needed it...where did it all go?

Did these things just happen in my imagination? Did I really learn any fundamental truths at all? Yes, dark demons did get chased away by my courage and by my newfound faith in MH's therapeutic process and in a larger force at work in my life. But as I looked in the mirror at my new closely clipped head this morning, I wondered: Why can't I get rid of the demons now?

I suppose the world feels far more random to me these days, and far more unfair than I ever could have imagined. Still, if all things really are relative (another leap of faith), then surely there must be something I could apply to my physical state right now from the lessons I learned so many years ago about what restores health in the emotional realm.

OK, so when I stared down a fear, when I spoke the truth--no matter how painful that uttering might have been--something would give way, and a little bit of health would return effortlessly. Restoring my sanity didn't happen overnight, of course, but each step was built on a solid foundation, which provided sturdy and steady ground for what was to come next.

If indeed I'm on the right track with this line of thinking, what "physical" truth am I not facing right now? Well, for one thing, I suppose I've given up on taking care of myself. As the constant pain has worn my sense of hope down to a tiny nub, lighting that next cigarette, drinking that next cup of coffee (loaded with sugar, 'natch), or sipping that little bit of wine (not to mention popping the painkillers) has begun to feel like the only way I can feel just a tiny bit good again, if only for a minute.

But these things are bad for me (no matter how "moderate" I may or may not be), just like the lies I believed about myself so long ago. I can see now how much foul food was fed to my soul, so to speak, during my childhood, and when I purged it, my mental health seemed to take care of itself.

So I'm going to do an experiment. Tomorrow I'll be having a colonoscopy, which requires a liquid diet of me today. I have to go to the store to stock up anyway on juice and broth, so while I'm there, I'm going to pick up tons of fresh fruits and veggies...as many as I can carry...and practice a modified vegetarian/vegan diet for the next five days.

Not only will I remove caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and processed sugars from my plate, but I will add in things I don't usually eat, like fruit smoothies in the morning (with a scoop of whey protein).

If I say I'll do it for a week, I'll freak out, so let's keep it to five days.

I read an old acronym recently, using the word CARE, meaning circulation, assimilation, recreation and elimination...the four things we need to pay attention to in order to be healthy.

If I'm not giving my body the fundamental "truths" it needs to heal itself in these four areas, then how can I expect to ever get out of pain?

Of course, no amount of nutrition is going to cure my bone marrow disease or bring down my high platelet count (I don't think so, but who knows?), but I have to believe that I can at least purge a resistant infection, or cool down the wiring of wayward nerves with proper nutritional attention.

As my pal Tom mentioned this morning, "Action is always the answer," which had that lovely ring of truth. I could ruminate to death on the "meaning" of all this crap, inherent or otherwise, but at the end of the day, if it's to happen at all, it's action that will get me out of pain...something that will happen as a result of something I DO.

I will start this new eating plan tomorrow. I'll post results as they develop.


Note: Pictures are random selections from my illustrated journal. They have nothing whatsoever to do with this essay. :)


1 comment:

poorsinner said...

Hi Mary,

I was waiting for this next post. The C.A.R.E. program seems like a great idea. It just five days. One day at a time.

And my dear, I could have sworn you were in your 20's. What a lovely blessing you are.