It’s a season of reserving: my energy, my resources, my health. My own body thinks it feels counter-intuitive to rest more in the summer. People are swimming, going to sporting events and concerts. The sun is out and typically people feel more free.
Again, I’m learning to sink my patterns to my own body, rather than mainstream culture. And I’m wondering about new ways that I might be able to be more active in the winter, when others decide to stay inside.
One of the early lessons to learn in chronic illness is to reserve your energy, to use it on the things or people most important to you before you run out of energy for the day. It’s a hard reality to keep coming back to-especially in my 20’s.
But after years of learning to reserve my energy-it’s all bottled up. And yes, I have given to others in these past several years, and yet there’s more. There’s more I want to say, do, experience. I feel that my youth does not match the severity of my illness.
And that lends itself to these awkward growing pains. The tension of letting myself dream and asking myself questions like, “What do you want?” and also being willing to let go. And let go again. And let go again. And still having the courage to wake up in the morning wanting to have fun, not just manage an illness.
Yet, it’s also a season of expanding. Of a new job. Soon to be a new home. Of investing time in new friendships. Learning more about mold toxicity and what I need to be aware of. Letting others help me. Empowering others so that they can begin to understand what I’m going through.
What I continue to be amazed about, even in these days of fatigue and nausea from detox reactions is that my body tells me all I need to know. Of course I need help from doctors and friends-but my body tells me all I need to know.
The key is to listen–and have the courage to listen to those quiet whispers day after day after day. Your body tells you that you’re reaching your limit or that it’s time to take a risk. It tells you if you need to reserve or expand.
The truth is: My body doesn’t lie. And on the hard days of chronic illness it would feel better to be ignorant of this fact. But the more I learn to lean into the tension, I more I learn to appreciate all my body has to say.
Those years of severe inflammation was the communication of an autoimmune disorder. My body was trying to alert me to the fact that my body was beginning to attack itself. My brain fog alerts me of chemicals and mold. My fatigue was a result of severely depleted thyroid and adrenal glands. All this was hard information to swallow-yet my body doesn’t lie.
Yet, so much gratitude exists in a clear mind, a strong body, sleeping eight hours per night and waking up rested. My body is communicating, “You are on your way toward health. Be thankful for each moment. Pay attention. Beautiful things are happening right now.”
In order to listen we must be still. In order to be still, we must accept ourselves. As we accept ourselves, we have the capacity to build this self-awareness. And out of this self-awareness and love comes compassion.
Be compassionate towards your body-in all it’s resilience and limitation. As we accept all that our body has to say, we will be able to listen to others. We will be able to accept them as they are- in all their resilience and limitation.
We will learn to reserve and expand together, honoring each others needs and celebrating the milestones. This kind of relating is hard work and yet I think it’s possible.
But first we must be still. We cannot relate authentically if we do not first do the hard work of listening to and accepting ourselves. I’m learning to do this better and better every day. Some days get pretty ugly, yet the outcome is worth it.