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Cancel, postpone, delay, reschedule, suspend, shelve, wait, dispense, put off, disrupt—such verbs prod attention toward unwelcome change, still provoked by Covid-19. Few areas of our lives have escaped the implications of living around its irritant: for some, death occurs.

Quarantine, shelter in place, social distancing, masking and gloving—such nouns mess with communication, intimacy, breathing, and social relating. Gesturing hugs don’t work for me. Such inconvenience tests patience, even raises questions about government regulations, with more states opening up for business.

Such experience dulls the sharpness of the crisis and seeks the comfort/unconsciousness of “the old ways.” Yet the Covid-19 crisis remains, unabated until the protective vaccine is in place.

From my perspective, this crisis mirrors my own: living with terminal illness, also with respiratory issues. Long months of praying, study, and blogging have filled empty spaces with ultimate truth and longing for eternal life. Yet, I’m not immune to the dark games in my psyche that have always wanted me dead before my time.

Like the deadly virus, the snaky hair of the Greek Medusa stings me into unconsciousness, leaving me vulnerable to assaults: terror triggers the “I can’t do it” attitude: learned helplessness from childhood; intense sadness-bordering-on-pain; dry weeping/heaving; rage and depression, voicelessness—my self-care ritual, albeit within limits, beached upon muddy bottoms. Hands clutching my head, Monster powerlessness threatens to eat me alive.

So my spiritual warfare deepens for which there is no vaccine, other than the practice of CPA’s Twelve Steps. They do work.

 

Stories often reside within the roots of words.

One of these is quarantine from the Venetian variant, quaranta giurni: it means forty days, the length of time that incoming ships had to remain tethered to the docks before crews and passengers could disembark during the Black Plague. It thinned populations—between seventy-five to two hundred million people in Eurasia, and peaking from 1347 to 1351 in Europe.

Since last January, the word quarantine has surfaced again, a self-care response related to the Covid 19 pandemic. Deaths and numbers contaminated are recounted daily in the media, thereby heightening fears of death and cancelling social venues. Self-isolation is encouraged, as well as activities/work to pursue in the home to minimize sensory deprivation.

From a different perspective, however, I liken the word quarantine to my homebound condition. True, my body carries a terminal illness that is not contagious, that I have no control over and will eventually shorten my life as often mentioned in these blogs. But practice of CPA’s Steps IV and V has uncovered a deeper illness in my psyche, like a utility sink rusted with scum: nothing can be cleaned. For decades, it has jaundiced my thinking, my choices, and my instincts, has enslaved me within obsessive behaviors. Relationships were largely anemic.

So my spiritual uncleanness cries out to Higher Power in CPA’s Steps VI and VII: my readiness to have these distortions routed out and my humble prayer, daily, for their removal. On my own, I’m powerless to effect this change.

So my self-isolation continues to serve me well as more stuff from my unconscious is acknowledged and worked with: such on-going purification enhances my spirit for what is to come …

I did not like what I saw in the bathroom mirror: slight swelling in my left cheek. I looked again, poked my finger into the spongy mass—the beginnings of moonface, no doubt about it, caused by prolonged steroid usage. I had seen this disfigurement in patients I used to work with. Other than teenage blemishes that were diet related, my oval face still appeared youthful. I worked hard to keep it that way.

Yet for decades, the leech of emotional pain had engorged my rheumatoid arthritis and split me from my body. Only approving smiles in mirrors or in reflecting doors verified my existence. Camera shots also affirmed this existence, enlivening my symmetrical body dressed to the nines. Others said “I was drop-dead gorgeous,” but I did not believe them.

Alarm led me, unawares, into the fix-it mode: I must preserve my face from further distortion. I went to work. Research showed that moonface could be reduced or eliminated if the dose were adjusted. Short of breath, my finger messed keying the number to the hospice nurse. “Yes, Liz, you can try the one-half of one milligram of the Dexamethasone. See if that makes a difference.”

It did not. Ever so slowly, I woke to the madness of preferring a comely face to breathing—all the more insane because of my homebound status. I was the only one who fretted, not my visitors. Such experience showed the entrenchment of my pride that had whipped me into days of unmanageability.

It was back to my CPA sponsor and Steps II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII. Again, the Flusher swirled out my crap and restored my breath for the essential, one day at a time.

 

 

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