I think I am over the hump with this illness, finally. I woke up early this morning feeling horrible, with lots of aches and a very bad headache. It was so bad that I couldn't function. So I went and got in the shower and stayed in there for 45 minutes. When I finally got out, I felt better. Tired, but better. I had my coffee and some pumpkin ricotta and by 11 I was feeling pretty decent. I actually cleaned the kitchen, which was in desperate need of cleaning. My kids had loaded and unloaded the dishwasher and took the trash out but nothing else had been done in five days... yikes. Now it is fresh and clean and all I need to do is mop the floor, which will have to wait because I am too tired. But at least I am getting a few things done today. My washing machine should be fixed tomorrow afternoon. I do feel like I could lie down and take a 4-hour nap right now, but that's not happening so I am just resting.
Tomorrow, unless I become sicker again, I am going to *focus* just like I talked about yesterday. I thought about it a little more, in the context of "one thing at a time." Really, my life is too complex to have my focus on *only* one thing at a time, at least when you're talking about days or weeks or months on end. I mean, I cannot put all my energy and effort into one area of my life and neglect the others. I have kids, I have dogs, I have obligations. But *focus* can be there in ALL of those areas. I think rather than simply a lack of focus, it really has been more about distraction. In fact, this morning in the shower, I had a memory and a thought.
When I was 26 years old, I was pregnant with my fourth child. He was very much planned and wanted. I'd been through childbirth (and worse) before, so I was quite excited about his coming birth. But even though I'd done this before, it would be nothing like my past experiences.
One minute I was sitting on my couch, contentedly reading a book in front of a cozy fire, watching the snowflakes drift down outside while my three little ones played with Matchbox cars at my feet. Less than an hour later, I'd be lying on my back on a cold metal table with a nurse trying to hand my newborn baby to me.
It was surreal, this rapid birth. SUPER rapid, and super painful. Only 45 minutes from start to finish, it was all of the pain of my previous 13-hour labor crammed into less than an hour's time. There was no time for medication, no time for an IV, no time for my brain to adjust to the fact that the baby was being born NOW, and no time for my body to acclimate slowly to ever-increasing contractions. I felt like I was trapped and couldn't get out. I couldn't stop it, I couldn't breathe through it. It was overwhelming. I remember wanting to exit my body. "Anywhere but here... anywhere but here..." The woman who was with me grabbed my arms and said "just go somewhere else... use your mind and go somewhere else." And in that moment, it seemed I almost left my body. I felt myself start to exit the flesh... it seemed I was leaving. I was really leaving... I had to go. And in an instant I thought I was actually dying, it seemed to me that I truly was leaving my body, the pain became distant, and I was floating. In just that split second I snapped myself back: NO! I thought, I need to live! I need to stay, for my children. For the baby. And just like that I was back in the pain, screaming with all my might, giving birth to my son, collapsing in exhaustion.
In that moment all I wanted was to escape. The pain was too much. I couldn't deal with it. You hear about people who see horrific accidents or have tragedy happen to their loved ones and they are so overcome with shock that they have to be medicated. Sometimes, things we have to deal with are just too much for us to handle, or so it seems.
I think that is the root of all this addiction... this gambling, this drinking, this drug abuse and cutting and wild promiscuity and binge eating and gaming. It's all one thing. It's all just people who are so overwhelmed or stressed or saddened by whatever is going on, or *has* gone on, in their life that they want to be *anywhere but here.* They want to be high or drunk or lost in a cheesecake. They want to be sucked into the Online world or the TV soap operas, lost in the excitement of risky sex or the thrill of a slot machine. It is all ONE addiction, it is all about escaping. It is all distraction, and it is the same for many of us on a lesser scale because maybe instead of dealing with our feelings or working on the actual problems, we eat a bowl of chips or surf the Web for 3 hours or do something else to go to another place. There are even healthy ways to do it: go for a run, take a long bath, focus on some hobby, go out with friends. The unhealthy part comes if we keep distracting and never actually come back and deal with what *needs* to be dealt with.
So, when I say I am going to *focus,* I mean I am going to be present. I am not going to try to 'go somewhere else' when there are hard things to deal with. At least, I won't keep distracting myself to the point of not getting anywhere. We all need to escape a little bit sometimes, but if life gets stressful the escaping can get out of control if we let it.
When I finally held my son in my arms, I knew he was worth it. I loved him with every ounce of my being and was oh so happy to be here and not anywhere else. On the first page of his baby book I wrote: "What is bought with the coin of pain is dearly kept." So true, about so many things.
Let us not always look to avoid the pain, but to work through it... work with it. Get to the end of it, and embrace the reward.
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