November 2018: Expectations
When I started writing this blog entry, it very quickly took the tone of a ranting vent, taking too long to get to my point. So let’s start there. A series of events relating to my health over a period of a few weeks culminated in my falling prey to that nasty speed bump of second guessing myself. As I reflect back, I think the speed bump jarred me so terribly because I had taken specific measures to ensure success.
But I failed.
And in that failure, questioned my judgment about how I was feeling in my own body and of what I was capable. It was only after emailing a client that I was fighting an adenoid (gland behind the ears) infection without antibiotics (the failed mission) and with an autoimmune disorder (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) that I was actually able to give myself permission to be too sick to work.
Losing one’s voice also impacts one’s ability to work when one’s job depends upon it. The doctor was more eager to write me a “doctor’s note” for work than a prescription for antibiotics. If only I had a boss to give a note to! Yes, the irony—did I need a note to give myself permission to be too ill to earn a living? But I digress.
I teach self-care and setting boundaries—and think I do fairly well practicing what I preach. But there are certain settings that pose extra challenges. Being sick is one of them, combined with my ingrained belief that I come last (if at all)—or more accurately in my head that everyone else comes before me (it’s not about me, you see, but about everyone else). I was raised that way; so it is second nature. I don’t even have to think about it.
Until I am sick—and then I do have to actually think about it. How far do I extend myself? What safeguards are in place? That works for pacing when I am “well.” When I fall ill, I have a harder time gauging what is reasonable, what is expected. Externally, not internally, driven. I can connect the dots of my past to understand where this dilemma comes from. I have a harder time sorting through it in the present.
So, in a nutshell, I struggle giving myself permission to be sick (to the exclusion of all other activities). Then when a male authority figure (aka physician) didn’t take me seriously (even though I put in extra effort to expedite my visit), I hit that speed bump of self-doubt with a heavy thud. Forcing me to circle the proverbial wagons and take care of myself (to the exclusion of all others).
And I have to be patient as this was a significant setback for me. I have to pace myself differently as I recover my baseline health. This experience has left me with many unanswered questions as well as a firm resolve to believe my body when it communicates with me. I have to break the lifelong pattern of not being seen, not being heard, not being believed—by doing those very things for mySelf.
I must take a hard look and see my Self. I must listen and hear my mind, body, and spirit. I must believe mySelf. Not to be confused with believing in myself. I do that OK these days. But believing me…Well, I know how to talk myself into or out of anything. I easily believe the indoctrination of my youth. But I do not readily believe my own felt experience. Add to that, it is SO difficult to consciously choose me. I am much better at doing what I can to meet expectations and commitments and perceived obligations.
So. How not to give up? The words “setback” and “recovery” come to mind along with the query: how many times does my dang phoenix have to be burned up and rise from the ashes??? My Phoenix must be running out of lives, or metamorphoses, by now!
Which brings me to the next thought to mull over: living in the mystery. In this case, living in the mystery of those unanswered questions I mentioned—and the mystery of what my charred Phoenix will transform into next. Maybe a creature who knows her own mind, speaks her own reality, listens with her heart, and moves (unapologetically) to her own beat.