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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ember

“Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings- all in the same relationship.”
Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype 

I feel like I've been focusing too much on death lately. Why do I say this? Well, because for some reason I almost capitalized the word "death" as I was tippity-tapping this out. Ugh. death can take a flying leap (for now) off a tall cliff... but that would just give it what it needs, eh? Well, how about distracting it for awhile with my awesome lab results!

Oh, did I not share with you all my recent health fears? I've been putting it off and putting it off, but finally went and had many vials of blood sucked from my veins to take a snapshot of what is happening inside this glorious body of mine. I'm sure that even the healthiest person in the world has this little nagging fear in the back of their minds that they have some sort of incurable illness. If you take that fear and magnify it by, oh, say, twelve thousand, then you'd have a teensy peek into my (mild) hypochondriac brain. Everything, for me, is WORST. CASE. SCENARIO. ZOMBIE. APOCALYPSE. ENCROACHING.

So, I'm pleased to share that neither zombies nor any manner of apocalypse will be encroaching on my ass anytime soon. In fact, my blood glucose level, creatinine-albumin ratio, thyroid, CA125, lipid profile and all other unpronounceables are perfectly balanced and in rather good spirits, actually! (Hmmmm, I wonder if there's a test for Zombie Apocalypse Syndrome?)

This is a lovely thing for me to hear- it alleviated so many fears that have been building up in me for the past year. Every year I go to my annual physical weighted with the worst case scenario on my shoulders, making promises to myself, "from THIS DAY FORWARD I will take care of myself better and develop a taste for kefir, Bikram yoga and colon cleanses." So far, every year, I come out happy and relieved. Then I bring home a pizza and dial up the Netflix, right after that run I convinced myself out of. This is no way to live!

Between 2008 and 2009 I had transformed myself from depressed, overweight and apathetic to a new, healthy and happy woman. I lost 70 lbs, was running every day, was eating whole and healthy food. I was consistently doing yoga, pilates and exploring other modes of being kind to my body and spirit. It showed. I was glowing. I felt amazing! A positive momentum was building in my life and bled into all parts of it. I started walking my talk on all levels. I was an active member in a community that accepted and loved me. With their support, I took pleasure in producing events that felt soulful and enriching. I finally found myself in a place where I felt strong enough to face my life. I started identifying my weaknesses and coming to terms with many deeply-embedded issues.

I was strengthening my body and spirit. In retrospect, I feel I should have been prepared for the tidal wave. I was ripe and cracking open on all fronts. I guess I never thought I was strengthening it for something specific. Then the tidal wave hit my life.

My father, diagnosed with lung cancer, was deemed terminal. I left my husband of 11 years, something long overdue. A few months later my mother unexpectedly died without a moment to even make sense out of it or really say goodbye. I took a job in Ontario and moved from Buffalo, NY to Ontario to be with Noel.

My family unraveled under the stress of taking care of my dying father and dealing with the sudden loss of our mother. Her death was a huge shock. We had been focusing all our energy on taking care of my dad, who passed away on June 5th, 2010, 2 months to the day from my mother's death. The tragedy in both of these deaths, aside from the horrific sadness of watching my dying father have to see my mother die so suddenly, was that my sisters were both pregnant with their first children, 3 months apart. Neither of my parents lived to see their first grandchildren be born. My niece Lily looked so much like my father during her first month.

2010 was a year of living, dying and love. Life was pared down to the base essentials of humanity.  Since then I've spent the better part of 3 years protecting myself and picking up the random pieces of rooftop and brick and broken glass shattered and thrown by the hurricane that brushed by my life.

Loss made me recoil into a shell of instant gratification and comfort. Food and pot and movies.... although a lovely way to live if you're 20 and on summer break, is not the right prescription for a 34 year old woman who has just come out of a personal crisis. Night by night all work I pushed through in 2008-2009 slowly became undone. I remember running through the forest, at my beloved Spraguebrook Park,  liberated and full of light and sweating and pushing through the pain of an hour and a half trail run, saying to myself "Never again, I'll never have to hurt and work like this again", promising myself that I made positive changes for good. Funny how massive stress can act like quicksand. I just got stuck. Mired. On the outside I was doing fine, moving along and keeping myself afloat amidst an ever-changing sea of stress and depression. I got promotions, better and better jobs, was blissfully in love, got married, moved to Vermont, moved back... On the inside I started making excuses for every day I stayed dormant. I was protecting myself, I thought. I was holding the last little shreds of my energy close to me, I thought. Finally, I caught up with grieving and the wound across my heart has gone from gaping and raw to a scar. I imagine that scar in the form of a lightning bolt.

So here I am, on the other side. Actually, where I am is on the hard slug back up that hill, if I really want to be accurate. My labs were fine. This time. But I know that the longer I go on treating my body like a Bacchanalian temple the less likely those labs will keep coming back normal. The hard work is again set before me. I've come to realize that changing my unhealthy patterns isn't a temporary commitment. It has to be permanent. I'm a little older, a little wiser, and a little richer for having lived through the past few years. It doesn't make the work in front of me any easier, but the ember of a healthy, motivated, whole woman sits inside of me. I've been breathing a little onto that ember lately, hoping a flame will lick up and set my world on fire again.