7pm. Seven PM on Sunday night was when the switch finally went off and a bit of freedom was restored. I don't know why, or what I did, sometimes I feel it matters very little - though I know I am mistaken and that is just the wicked doubt that seeps like another virus running through my veins. This switch was more like a dimmer tonight. It didn't shine brightly and enlighten the room or my surroundings, it was more of a quiet break. Like when the sun slowly peaks through the winter grey clouds showing the world it still exists, it hasn't forgotten about you, you can see it but you can't feel it's warmth. The reminder that it doesn't fail to exist just because you haven't felt it's rays.
It started without a thought like a minor reflex and I sat up and moved from the bed to my floor. Now this doesn't sound so appealing, but the solid surface of the ground with my legs resting on the ottoman above felt like a safe place. My back was finally supported, my feet above my head, my body being supported by the ground and sinking in and I realized how much in fact it ached. The last four days while lying in bed it has felt like an invisible vice has been wrapped around me. Pressure from above sinking into me. The bed below barely holding me. But on my back, my eyes closed I felt for a second I was back to my first yoga class. Lying on the carpeted library floor of a suburban high school. The best extra credits I ever took for a summer. I can still imagine what that room smelled like. That was a summer of awakening. I had my health back after my tonsils removed, transferred back home to UW-Milwaukee which was a much better fit and one of my first classes I added to catch up from the semester lost introduced me to Linda. She was my instructor for many years, etherial and grounded. From the Library to the 3rd Ward Loft she was my first and best instructor I ever had. Back to reality. It's 2015, on my bedroom floor and I began to breathe and put arms over head and like a coil began to unwind.
The last few days breathing was tiresome. Eating exhausting. Sleeping a hopeful elixir but that is not how it works. You just lie there and stare. People always think this illness is so graceful, and in my mind I try to imagine it that way. I often try and pretend I am Lady Mary at Downton Abbey who couldn't be bothered with the menial tasks of day to day life. Having someone do these tiresome chores beneath her..In this fantasy I admit that this illness does suit me if I had to choose…then of course I didn't get to chose. I admit that if I had to put my hand into a bucket and pull out blindness, cancer or dementia oh my list goes on and on how would I fair? This little exercise brings me comfort as I go through a laundry list of what I could not handle and peace in that this is the one I won.
I've moved to sitting upright. Cross legged with my back supported by the ottoman that held my calves. I stretch my head and slowly rotate my neck in little half circles and I breathe. How far do I go? The light has gotten a bit brighter, the clouds have begun to part. Do I dare? Do I dare stand and stretch upright? I do and I wonder could I have done this at 2 pm? Could I have done this yesterday? The day before or before that??? Am I lazy and didn't try hard enough? That nasty little doubt coming from the shadows and I remind myself to stay in this moment right now - this moment of stretching to the the left - expanding from the ribcage not to crush it inward as Linda taught me many years ago her voice a calming whisper in my ear. She always taught us that yoga was done anywhere, anytime not bound by a class. It was the awareness of what you were doing at any given time and place. When she was a mother of three young children she use to say yoga was emptying the dishwasher with a mindful awareness and an outstretched arm. Here I am, my feet rooted to my bedroom carpet as my hands reach to the sky. I am in this moment, and watching this moment wondering how can this be this hard one minute and this easy right now?
I stretched and I planked and I breathed it in. Mindful of my drifting thoughts wondering again why now? Then patiently directing myself to drink now in because we don't know when it will come again. The sun was setting and I sat on my upstairs patio and gazed at the trees. The gray sky with bright flashes of pink. Listened to a couple walk on the path. Notice a light on in the distant hotel with a couple in their resort bathrobes taking in the same view as me. As I was sitting comfortably on one chair with my legs on the opposite I could finally find the words for the question that has eluded me…What does it feel like? This past 4 days it has felt like I am carrying around my body. The 136lbs do not serve me or energize me or carry me…I am carrying them. That is how it feels to get out of bed, to shower, to get dressed to eat to talk …It feels like this separation and I am carrying myself around a bag of muscles and bones heaped over your shoulder. Where every movement, every breathe is an act of energy that adrenaline assists all the while you are slowly decaying inside. That is why you are so heavy you see yourself in every action you take. You bargain and bet and wager what you can do - with money you don't have to spare. You are treading water while the ocean is swallowing you but most of all you are carrying yourself and you are too heavy.
I moved inside and looked at myself in the mirror. Looked through myself and saw a bit of life back in my eyes. My complexion suddenly clear and smooth. I began with the yellow Oral B toothbrush and began a cursory brushing of my teeth. When it's really bad every time I brush my teeth I have a memory of my grandmother. I remember sitting on the floor of their bedroom while she would be getting ready for the evening in the attached bathroom. I would notice the effort it took to brush her teeth when she was really ill but trying to hide exactly how sick she felt. I would chat with her and she would brush her teeth with this sense of duty and habit. I see myself in her when I am too tired but force myself out of bed - the toothpaste hastily on the bristles, the quick deliberate motions that require full concentration but little detail. It makes me sad, it always makes me sad. But not tonight…
I was playing "The Hurricane" on my iPhone by Bob Dylan - playing time 8 minutes and 33 seconds. I had it on from a link from Raffale Sollecito's FB page he posted it after his conviction was overturned for the murder of Meredith Kercher. I've always related to wrongfully imprisoned people long before this illness; and now have found in some way a bizarre kindred spirit to those souls. It's so hard to prove a negative. That is what this illness is and was so long for so many afflicted, trying to prove a mystery. So the Hurricane is playing in the background and I had the courage to grab the Sonicare. And I found myself gazing into the mirror with a Mona Lisa smile. I was at my sink standing after some yoga poses and sitting on the porch. I was mindful of brushing my teeth and moved from a manual toothbrush, to the hum of the Sonicare to the floss to a few swishes of Listerine and back to a final brush. The song was finishing as I reached for the Dove soap and then took my Clarisonic and washed my face with the care of an esthetician. When it's two minute timer was completed I had dried my hands and opened my glass jar I have filled with baking soda and put some on my hand and washed my face again. When I patted my face dry and slowly applied lotion I again looked in the mirror at awe that these tiny take for granted moments could in the moment bring me such joy. These actions that most do on a daily basis with the perfunctory motions on their way somewhere else…this was my somewhere else. I was not going anywhere- these acts done with ease rather than effort was my journey and destination and in this moment it was enough. I felt free.