I have cancelled many plans the last six weeks or so. Late spring is a temperamental season for my body. Some days I have energy, other days I don’t. Some days the pollen and mold counts are high, and I’m doing everything I can to make it through the work day, just to rest enough to hopefully still keep my commitment to yoga. Some days my students are more trying, zapping my energy faster. Some days I react to a damp building, and some days I’m going into a situation where I know I will have some sort of reaction.
And I go back to the word that’s so hard to say sometimes: No.
No, a word that swims against the cultural norm.
No, a word that a 27 year old shouldn’t have to say so much.
No, a word I often say with tears in my eyes.
No, a word I am learning to befriend.
No, a word that helps me pay attention to myself day after day.
No, a word that isn’t a threat, but an opportunity to shed some of my “shoulds.”
No, a word that my friends know how to accept well.
Recently, I received the gift of acceptance from a friend. She is getting married next month and I had to cancel attending her bridal shower because I just needed to rest that day. On top of that, she stopped over on her lunch break for a quick cup of tea and to open her gifts. Before she left she made sure to say, “You know, if you can’t attend my wedding because you’re not feeling well, it’s okay. I know you care about me.”
My friend knows me well enough that she realizes that attending her wedding could be difficult for me. But my saying no at times doesn’t threaten her. She accepts it in stride and she knows that many times I say No, I really want to say Yes.
Friendship actually is about presence and absence. About get-togethers and cancelled plans. About silence and conversation. As I’ve adjusted to a lifestyle that’s sustainable for a life with chronic illness, I’m still enough to grasp the nuances of relationships and the commitment of friends. I know that my silence and the times I have to say no, actually do add something to a friendship. The times where I’m confined to my bed, unable to be with people, has allowed me to re-imagine how I can communicate my care and concern without actually being present much of the time.
The kindness and acceptance of others helps me in turn to be kind to myself. I’m hoping over time to see cancelled plans as an opportunity to sink even deeper into stillness, to honor myself by resting, and by doing these things, bringing more peace to myself and my relationships.
Below is a picture of a walk I took with Cash last weekend, when I basically cleared my schedule for the weekend in order to read, rest and walk. He was one happy camper!