Sometimes my energy gets really low and my inclination is to hide out from the world. One of the things I know really well about myself is that I often need to recharge with alone time. It means I have to really make space for myself. It has taken practice and is still a work in progress to be able to be who I want to be to the people in my life that I care about and to also stand firm in my need to replenish the energy that I feel kind of escapes me so easily. I am learning more about my empathic nature and how to exercise the best form of self care around it. One thing that has been very challenging for me is to be able to vocalize that I need the space, sometimes saying no to invitations and sometimes canceling plans that I have made with other people. It used to be really hard for me to cancel plans. I would agonize for hours ahead of time, going back and forth in my mind trying to talk myself into doing the thing or trying to come up with a better story or excuse for why I “could not” do the thing. When I started honing in on healing on deeper levels, it occurred to me that I could just speak my truth. I could just say to my friend that loves me that I just don’t want to go in public, that given the option, I would like to stay home and stay alone and replenish the energy that is eluding me for whatever reason. That lesson came to me when I had started focusing on work around my throat chakra, doing work around speaking my truth and using my voice. Standing in my truth has historically been challenging for me, not because I don’t like to tell the truth, but because I don’t ever want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and for fear of being judged. I would play out the scenario in my head of how my friend would be annoyed with me for being anti social, that my friend would find me lame, that my friend would think that I didn’t really like them or that I didn’t treasure their friendship or just that I hate to have fun. And in acting out of fear of these outcomes, I would not be transparent with my words and actions, instead making up seriously lame excuses or withdrawing further into my head and sometimes not communicating at all, or worse, doing the thing that I didn’t want to do, and then feeling resentful and exhausted and weak because of it. I remember when I decided to change the way I handled this issue. One day I had plans to go to dinner with one of my closest group of friends. We were going to one of my favorite pizza places and I had been excited about it. But that day I had my oncology check up, and while I am in good health and overall improved from the check up before, I got news that my bone density scan showed that my bone density had worsened from the previous test and the results were moving closer to osteoporosis. This news just pummeled me energetically. I had been really soaring along in my spiritual practice, feeling healthy and strong and, working out, eating right, meditating every day, crushing goals…I felt like a rockstar. And so I pranced into that check up fully expecting my doctor to marvel at how far I have come, to give me huge accolades, maybe even put on a firework show. I was deflated. it was like the energy left my body in one swift blow. A lump formed in my throat. I felt heavy. I felt sad. I wanted to cry and hide in my bathtub and smoke a joint and feel sorry for myself. I immediately began to agonize over my plans that evening. What story could I make up to get out of a fun pizza night with my friends? And then I stopped. I had the knowledge gained from my devotion to my spiritual practice to decide to try a different approach. I texted my two friends, and I told them the truth. I got vulnerable. I let them know that I was depressed, that this news had hit me hard and that I was weepy and sad and I needed to lick my wounds and I needed to do it by myself. I was able to speak my whole truth, showing the love to myself that I knew I needed, and the magical result of that was that I received the love triple fold because those two friends were sympathetic, understanding, and loving right back to me. They each checked in on me over the next few days with phone calls and home visits. In standing more firm in my need I was able to have a more satisfying interaction with the people that I love. I felt like a better friend to them for being up front and I felt their love for me when I needed it the most, because I gave them the opportunity to see my struggle and to see where I was coming from.
In my practice I have been able to shift the way I relate to this special need of mine. I have learned to honor the dark as much as I honor the light. Instead of running from the sadness and the heaviness and the depression when it comes, trying to meditate or pray it or socialize it away, I sit in it, and I honor it. I treat myself to a day under the covers, a long bath, an evening or a whole day by myself. These are the things that replenish me, and I make time for them.
Yesterday I went to the dentist to have a filling replaced. The procedure turned into also getting my teeth cleaned. Which turned into getting schooled on how the gingivitis that I had treated a year ago could affect my health from now on, and was something that I needed to be more hyper vigilant about than I had realized. I knew that having gone through chemotherapy that I was at greater risk for dental issues than I was in the past. But I didn’t realize that the bacteria that grows in your mouth from the moment you experience gum disease for the rest of your life,and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzhiemer’s. After 35 years of never having a single cavity, and not even needing to be that vigilant about my dental cleanings, I developed gingivitis and started developing cavities and have lost a tooth all in the last couple of years. Day to day, this is not that big of a deal. It is manageable. In comparison to some of the health issues that I have already tended to in my life, this is not really all that intimidating. But this is yet another area where I have been permanently affected by circumstances beyond my control. And while I AM healthy and strong, and eating right, and meditating every day and crushing my goals left and right, this conversation was a trigger for me. I left feeling empowered by the knowledge and the power that I have over making my cleaning appointments every 3 months and flossing every day, the things that I have control over. But I woke up this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. I dragged myself into the kitchen and I made myself coffee like a zombie. When I usually do some exercise while I make breakfast, tour the garden, or any other yummy morning rituals, it took every ounce of energy that I could muster to pour the coffee into the cup, put some jelly on the bread and make my way to the back porch. I sat there morosely and wondered why I could barely keep my eyes open, why I could hardly stand to get a few words out to my wife and my animals. I sat there with tears in my throat and resentment for having to go anyplace and frustration for not feeling happy because my life is so fucking awesome. I wondered why I didn’t feel motivated to go inside and put on all of the clothes and the make up and the accessories that are usually much enjoyable pre work rituals but that today felt like a chore, one that I managed to muster the bare minimum of what is acceptable for the work that I do. I drove to work with that familiar cloud hanging over my head. But not quite aware of why I was so sad, so tired, so…heavy. Last night we had made some kind of last minute plans to hang out with our friend tonight and I texted her to tell her that I had heavy boots and that I just didn’t want to go. I tried to make a joke about it by qualifying that I was just a winey brat but she inquired about my sadness. That was all it took. I realized at that moment that the experience I had at the dentist yesterday brought on the feelings, and telling my friend about it helped me to connect the dots (and allowed me to receive more love, which is a happy bonus). This is how trauma memory manifests for my physically. And thats okay. I have the tools. And I have bomb ass friends who love me a lot. So that’s cool too.