I fully expected today to be a bad day, a sad day, a day full of ick. I had something big to grieve today. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it as I want to talk about what I did with it instead.
Today was a “traumaversary” of sorts from a relatively new sadness. Several weeks ago, I was dreading this day. I asked a couple people who knew what this day was to be with me. Well then, we had a pandemic and being “with” people wasn’t going to work. A FaceTime chat about it or zoom from home wasn’t what I wanted. I was going to go out to do something to celebrate this day as even with the sadness that accompanies this day, it’s a day to celebrate too.
I made a plan to go out and sit under a tree and fill out a touching fill in book for the person I’m grieving and celebrating today as this was one I was going to get through on my own. My life has been a lot about adapting these past couple years as I worked to heal my body, mind, and spirit. So a pandemic has led a lot to adapting too.
My plan to sit under a tree got shut down by gray and drizzly weather. Not so bad for walking in. Not so great for sitting and writing. Instead I sent a lot of love towards this person. I pictured him being happy. I arranged the dogs to take a celebratory photo to send.
Do you ever get that kind of spinny feeling in your chest that used to seem like anxiety to me? Today it feels like my body is giving me a signal to do something. I was very “spinny” towards the end of the afternoon after feeling a lot of intense emotions of love, unfairness, joy, grief, and the list goes on. It never felt like anxiety, but I wanted to move, and I wanted to move quickly.
Ever since I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis nearly 4 years ago, I haven’t had access to high intensity exercise as my body just can’t. I’m very powerful in my iyengar yoga, but yoga, even with as intense as it can be, is not a good cardio workout.
By 3:30 this afternoon, I knew the only way to relax was to push myself. I have an amazing pair of sidestix forearm crutches, so even if my legs give out, I can use my upper body to get myself places.
So I went to a trail a few minutes from my house. My plan was to meander. There’s a really huge hill in this series of trails I’ve never been able to climb. Today felt like my day. I didn’t take the trail that sort of circles around it. I just went straight up the side. Not too sure what came over me, but I just felt like I had to conquer something.
So the above picture is from the top of the hill that I zoomed up straight up the side. You can tell it was big! It was glorious to get up there. I was amazed at my ability to take my spinny feeling and what was supposed to be a day I was going to just be sad, to climbing a hill really fast with my disabled self and most amazing forearm crutches. I felt like I somehow won at something!
So it’s not one of my huge, genuine smiles of joy. This was a smile of victory at claiming what should have been a bad day into a blessing. It’s also a peaceful smile. It’s also a smile of “oh sh!/, I have lost my leg strength completely, and I’m on top of a huge hill?” I took several deep breaths and very slowly made my way down with contentment in knowing I would make it back safely. I did!
In healing from my trauma and working as hard as possible to manage autoimmune, inflammatory, and neurological diseases these past couple years, I have had more physical strength to do things I never thought possible stemming from a mental strength that grows after I get back up from being knocked down for bit over and over. I wrote to a friend after I got home that “I was either dead or really proud of myself”.
Autoimmune diseases don’t make much sense to people as I can sleep for days on end to rise and do incredible things the next day. I have an incredible willpower to not be beat even if means giving up big opportunities for now. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to me either how my abilities fluctuate so much. I did have to use my wheelchair the rest of the night for taxing my body so much.
And the icing on the birthday cake I was grieving that I couldn’t celebrate is that a good friend let me guide her through a meditation tonight. It takes a ton of trust to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to let someone guide you through meditation. I felt extremely honored she trusted me to do it for her.
For what should have been a day of crying and sadness turned into a day of heroic symbolism for myself and for the person I’m grieving today.
If you get the “spinny” feeling in your chest that I always thought was anxiety, perhaps do a reframe of it being a signal to take an action. It might not be powering up a hill, which I’m not sure was my best plan, but maybe it’s writing, doing something creative, texting or calling someone, or if you have nothing, you can send me an email. I absolutely love reading them and always respond!
My own birthday arrives next week. It will probably be spent alone due to social distancing measures, but I’m not dreading it. I’m wondering how I’m going to make it great? We are all in a lot of solitude, unless you are caring for family. In this heightened global time of anxiety, what can you do to have a tiny victory? What can you do to take some power back in uncertain times?
This is a time that not even the experts can predict the trajectory. I’m taking my forced isolation as a time to regroup and reinvent the person I am, well with plenty of help from my now virtual friendship network.
3D People are amazing, but I’m settling for friends on screens. Grateful to have it. Grateful to have all of you. Hopefully my restarting my blog will bring some connection and understanding into your life.
As I said, feel free to reach out to me. A person who emailed me towards the beginning of the start of my blog, a total stranger, I am now grateful to call a friend.
Take some pandemic power back. It’s ok to feel scared and uncertain and feel like your mental health is tanking. It’s also simultaneously ok to have hope and peace. It’s a human right to have joy even when everything is falling apart around you. It’s also definitely ok to nothing but focus on existing.
I also wrote a blog piece yesterday if you missed it, and a regular reader where I discussed some of why I disappeared for a bit.