Spiritual Practice

I’ve been feeling bad lately. Body’s trying to come down with a cold. I joke that I am indestructible because I am so irritated by the fact that my body forces me to take my own time off. I never get sick. Until now, I cannot remember a time in more than a year than I have been sick at all. Everyone else in the house passes things around (even then, it is rare compared to other homes—mostly just my mom and Mike). They all get sick, I get a little tired, maybe achey–at the worst I get a fever (when everyone else spent the week of Xmas 2006?? violently ill with a stomach thing, I ran a fever…and was therefore the least sick. I still felt like shit, but I never had any of those unmentionable symptoms that they all had. So I don’t get sick. Especially since I quit smoking in July of 2006. No more coughing. But the not getting sick has brought up a boatload of crap for me.

Watching my mom when I was growing up, she’d get sick when she reached her breaking point emotionally and or spiritually. Talk about full catastrophe. It would usually end up being something huge. And it gets worse even now as she ages. She had many years off from that lifestyle, if you will, after she went through codep treatment and when she was actively taking care of herself emotionally. She has many mechanisms in place that keep her from offing herself, and for that I am grateful, but those also seem to keep her from now. I know there are so many good reasons for that. But I digress. My sil is the same way, heck, both of them are–physical illness is their way of getting their needs met. It frees them from the responsibility of asking for help, it gives them time off from life…there are many things to be gained by a good bout of the flu or a cold or hepatitis, or fibro-myalgia or whatever.

I think because I am so acutely aware of those tendencies in others, I am doubly aware of them and intolerant of them in myself. When I realized at some point that my husband seemed to be falling apart what with kidney stones and headaches and neck issues and sinuses, I got really mad. Why do I have to do all the fucking caretaking? I sat in the urgent care with him and watched a doddering old couple muck around with all their various medical care cards and I saw my future stretch out before me: I would be that doddering old woman, caring first for my mother until her death (in 30+ years) and then caring for my husband until his death…probably 2 weeks after hers, right? No time on my own with my husband, no time on my own until I am old myself. And I got so fucking mad!!

Of course, then I realized that I would always be in good health, good shape. I would retain my mental faculties and ability to get along in an ever-changing world. I would be healthy and whole well into my golden years. So that took a load off my mind. No more worrying about whether or not I’d need exercise or vitamins or good shoes. I’d be fine. No need to worry about an untimely death—something that bothers me on occasion: what if I am killed in the precise moment I no longer want to die? That’s Murphy’s law in my life, you know? Anyway, I realized I was blessed or doomed to care for those I love ad infinitum. Definitely something that does not come naturally. Yes, I will break my back to care for someone until they like me or love me but then it turns into work and I don’t want it any more.

So. I am trying to get a cold. My body is fighting it very well. I have felt tired and snuffly, a bit coughy. But not that dear-god-why-can’t-I-stop-coughing mess that colds used to turn into when I was smoking. (Gratitude seeps in). But I want to crawl into bed and be waited on hand and foot! I want people to take care of me! I want pity and love and I don’t care which!

Well. That just used to set off alarm bells. And finally today, I caught on. I may or may not get sicker. But today, Mike is off work. I’m off til Sunday night. We could have a grand time. Movies, skating, hanging out. I could straighten up the house, spend some time doing fun stuff.

Or I could stay in this place of rampant self pity and self loathing and wallow in the despair and turn it into suffering. I could then turn it into anger and rage and let that carry me through the days so that by nightfall I would be so eaten with grief and guilt I would have to pass out rather than fall asleep. Talk about the catastrophe!

I got up cause I was done sleeping.

I made coffee. I ignored the mess in the kitchen that usually fills me with homicidal rage.

I got my crocheting out of my work back and sat down at my desk.

I put on the “Getting Unstuck” audible file with Pema Chodron.

I listened for more than an hour, crocheting, sipping coffee.

Then I actually sat quietly for about 5 whole minutes all told. Stayed with my breath.

I won’t get into that’s not enough, I need more.

I don’t wanna get into” but I’ll be back to the catastrophe tomorrow!”

Just for Today. Knowing that seeing the shenpa is a gift in and of itself.

Shenpa thrives on the underlying insecurity of living in a world that isalways changing. We experience this insecurity as a background ofslight unease or restlessness. We all want some kind of relief fromthat unease, so we turn to what we enjoy—food, alcohol, drugs, sex,work or shopping. In moderation what we enjoy might be very delightful.We can appreciate its taste and its presence in our life. But when we empower it with the idea that it will bring us comfort, that it willremove our unease, we get hooked. So we could also call shenpa “the urge”—the urge to smoke that cigarette, to overeat, to have another drink, to indulge our addiction whatever it is.

From Getting Unstuck by Pema Chodron.

In Peace and Love,
Mary Alice

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~ by merialiss on February 29, 2008.

One Response to “Spiritual Practice”

  1. THANK YOU for posting this! (We really do have a lot in common heh) I really needed to hear a lot of what you said. I have been feeling so off kilter of late (imagine that) and unable to find and hang onto any balance. Have a tough tough time remembering I can restart my day at any time.

    “I think because I am so acutely aware of those tendencies in others, I am doubly aware of them and intolerant of them in myself.” Holy freeholy fangirl you ain’t kiddin! 😉 I will go until I am flat falling apart and someone has to near carry me to a doctor, after they have convinced me I am ill of course, before I will allow myself to possibly admit something is wrong. I definitely think it is an outgrowth of caring for others so much for me and having seen my mother and grandmother fake stuff to get attention. I SO don’t want to be like that and so I go to the extreme in the other direction!

    I needed the spiritual reminder and recall to center. Thanks.

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