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At 3:45 A.M. I awoke with this curious dream, with its lesson for today:

During my absence from home, Martha had hung a paint-by-numbers scene of a wooded area, its colors garish and bleeding, over a mural in my living room. I’m shocked, then angered even more when I discover the gaping hole she’d made for the nail, the plaster on the floor.

 During my absence from home suggests gaps in my attention span, my not being fully present to the inner workings of my thoughts, motives, and choices in my psyche— Relapsing into denial, rationalization, and idealization, or even worse, dissociation from my body. With increasing fatigue, all the more important for me to take more timeouts for rest. Happily, my REM sleep deepens the quality of my sleep and provides multiple dreams that cue me through this process of diminishing health.

Martha, the extroverted shadow of my sister, suggests the need to balance out my limited energies, especially saying “No.” to others when too exhausted to speak; not to force myself, even when wearing oxygen. The hospice nurse has told me that ILD will eventually harden my lungs, cutting off speech altogether, a process already underway, albeit slowly.

hung a paint-by-numbers scene of a wooded area suggests unwanted people, places, things no longer conducive to this last phase of my individuation. That Martha caught me unawares mandates my willingness to become more vigilant, more discerning.

I’m shocked, then angered speaks of feelings that can easily plunge me into self-pity, even more poison for my psyche, which whacks conscious contact with HP into smithereens—An intolerable situation.

So this morning’s dream calls for more discipline to remain fully conscious with the help of CPA’s Twelve Steps and the spiritual fellowship. To this, I remain committed, despite slips.

 

 

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 …

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