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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.

 

 

Step Seven of Chronic Pain Anonymous – Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

In Recipe for Recovery I found the description for Humility, central to Step Seven and CPA recovery: “…we accept and love ourselves exactly as we are.” That meant my sins, flaws, or shortcomings, whatever you want to call them. Clearly, my willfulness had created these emotional, mental, and spiritual glitches that felt like knotted ropes garroting my breathing and exacerbating decades of chronic illness and pain. Clearly, as well, I was powerless over their removal.

To prepare for this meeting with Higher Power, I returned to Prayer, another Step Seven Ingredient. For days, I sat in silence in my wingback chair and listened for the nudge to ask for help. Only when beckoned, did I begin.

It mattered not that my shortcomings appeared like an overgrown lot filled with scrap metal, their jagged edges glistening in the sun. It mattered not that guilt and shame slithered along mud-packed roads to the quarry. It mattered not that masks of entitlement lined the walls of my study. There I was, surrounded by fits and starts that had lost steam and collapsed—the caricature of my birthright.

Then, change occurred: I felt held, then smiled and stretched my back against the wingback chair. I was forgiven—not that my shortcomings had been removed; they were still around but had less influence over my motives, thoughts, and behaviors, now that I was aware of them. Only with daily practice of Step Seven would my shortcomings be entirely removed. That would be Higher Power’s design for my continuing purification.

Step Eight would deal with the harms I had caused others.

 

 

“By all means, we’ve got to stay happy! Whatever we can do to keep it going …” she gushed as another chimed in with a joke about hand washing. This morning’s talk show hosts chuckled as they described neighborhoods putting up Christmas lights and chalking driveways and sidewalks with pastel hearts and flowers.

In my perception, such attitudes miss the mark. Many experts also tout keeping busy with on-line work from home, home schooling, home-improvement projects, and keeping track of the pandemic’s swath of global mayhem. In between times, social media assuages social loneliness and fills empty time. Netflix and television dull the urgency of the questions: When will we return to normal, however construed? Will things be different? Will I lose out? How will I manage?

Such busyness frays the fabric of the global community, already dangerously thin with violence and addictive behaviors.

Glaringly absent from this scenario are silence and prayer, and the fact of death, ours included—just relegated to numbers of the stricken on graft charts in states, distant from our own. Such shudders get lodged within stress.

So how quell this inner turmoil and enter the silence of prayer? How let it speak to the grievous circumstances in which we find ourselves? It’s only important to want it, deeply, and to begin. Within our depths, a dear Friend wants our hearts, however scarred.

Psalm 56:11, 13 speaks to such a relationship: …in God I put my trust, fearing nothing…for you have rescued me from Death to walk in the presence of God in the light of the living.

 

 

 

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