You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘wholeness’ tag.

“…we drop any pretense and become honest with ourselves. We admit that we have been holding on to both an illusion of and a strong desire for power over our pain and illness.” Quoted from Step One, Recipe for Recovery – A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous (2015)

So, it’s about being transparently honest; nothing less will do. Given my decades-long history with joint pain, given my denial and rationalization fostering the pretense of being well and appearing like everyone else, developing an honest relationship with my body is daunting. Yet, this is precisely the challenge to be embraced in partnership with Higher Power and the CPA Twelve Steps.

Parallel to this task is dealing with the mortality of my body; it’s one thing to read or talk about it, but quite another to face its indescribable losses, especially relationships of the heart. Grief, a multifaceted angst, plays into this, as well.

For almost two years into my hospice care, there was little change in my body except for weakness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and the side effects of two medications to slow down my collapsing lung sacs. Speaking was becoming rougher, almost to the level of pain. However, deep breathing and stretching exercises have kept me strong enough to show up for the next day’s routine, even post a blog.

But with all symptoms worsening the past six months, my body has dropped much of its fat, no matter how much I eat. To counter this Auschwitz-like appearance, I stand in front of the mirror and pray for acceptance. “Accepting the unacceptable,” so says Step One, even the weight loss, so disconcerting, at first. It is working, but occasionally quicksand sucks spirit from me, only to be pulled back into sanity by my CPA buddies.

Without my practice of the gentle discipline of CPA’S Recipe for Recovery, I shudder how I’d be faring with my present circumstances; they must be experienced, one day at a time, until completed.

Then, in the twinkling of an eye …

At 7:15 A.M., I awoke with this instructive dream:

Jesuit friends invite me to join them for meetings before the opening of the retreat at their facility located on the Atlantic Coast. A reserve on my usual room, with the floral chintz shag and matching bedspread facing the ocean, awaits me. Other laypersons have also been invited. A friendly Jesuit smiles as he eases me into an armchair in the conference room. The topic under review is the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed.

Deep within my psyche, Jesuit friends, symbolized by masculine energy, affirmed my efforts to integrate the disparate pieces of my unlived life before spirit leaves my body. For what felt a long time, their warmth and camaraderie encouraged the arduous continuation of this work.

The topic of the conference, the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed, suggested outdated defense mechanisms that no longer work in my psyche: fantasy, idealization, dissociation, and denial. Such block the conscious embrace of reality where life happens: From childhood, I was only able to look around life’s corners, not participate. These defense mechanisms had kept me safe, in my self-imposed prison, but no longer are they useful in my search for psychic integration.

Awareness of their continuing presence demands activation of the “conscious contact” of Step Eleven. Only HP can release me from this tyranny, for that is what it is.

The dream’s setting, the feminine container of my room with the floral chintz swag over the window facing the ocean, supports this endeavor. I have only to be willing to participate, one moment at a time.

It happened at 3:15 P.M., November 12, 1935, a breech birth at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri—a rough experience for Mother and me, but we survived: she to ninety-nine years and three months. On subsequent birthdays when older, I honored her over lunch at Sadie’s or The Crossings, her favorite restaurants. Again, I heard the story. 

So this day, I completed my eighty-fifth year of life; from this vantage point, a gift, despite decades of rheumatoid arthritis, with its corrective joint surgeries. Obsessing over treatment modalities, all of which were ineffective, also flooded my psyche with anxiety and stunted my psycho-social growth. Most of my life, I searched for my true identity, even achieved three advanced degrees and certification to work with the elderly poor. Interesting that they readily shared their stories, with no prompting from me. In my depths, I wondered if I had a story.

Until retirement in 2001, my life felt splintered, a fact corroborated by dream work with a Jungian analyst who insisted I begin writing. I did so. Memories flooded me, and with them, the next right word began to surface, startling evidence of my Inner Writer. I would write myself into new wholeness.

Years passed. It felt like taking dictation as two self-published memoirs and my blog emerged.  

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: