Struggling. A long delayed relapse of MS symptoms has infiltrated my life. Perhaps it is a sign that I am safely home at Kendal and can let down into the ensuing affect of the days, weeks, and months of stress around Richard’s illness and death. Before that calamity, my own health issues were causing us both stress in the last few years before his cancer diagnosis. I was the one who was pulling away into a declining body unable to easily move about the world for practical or social engagements. Once it became clear Richard was now the one in dire straights, I somehow arose to the critical occasion and surprised everyone, especially myself, by handling the unraveling of our former lives.
I had enormous hands on and moral support to accomplish any of it, but still, I was turned inside out to face the world. My translucent inward facing stance surrendered to the solid gravity of my life. I was pulled firmly earthward to embrace his death and my own clear choice to live. My body seems to be the battleground for playing out my personal version of the duality of life/death. An MS lesion on my spine at T6 (nothing new, I have been working with my physical therapists for years around muscular issues at this site) is very inflamed and is causing back pain, limiting the expansion of the muscles I use to breathe deeply, and creating a general MS malaise all too familiar to me.
I landed here eager to remain outside of my cocoon and launched myself like a newly energized butterfly investigating new activities, meeting hundreds of new people within weeks and enjoying conversations with strangers at every meal. With no Richard as my back-up for quiet, existential intimacy, it has been quite a stretch. Lately, spending lots of time alone in my room has felt fine though even after the short time I have been here, people did wonder where I had gone. I am not willing to withdraw from life in the ways I did before, and this is not a place that encourages it. On the other hand, no one has bugged me behind my closed door and I am not much on the nurse’s radar because I do not receive daily medications from them. Which suits me well. As long as they see me going on my way to and from meals, what I do before or after them is not questioned.
Struggle diminishes the minute I don’t see this re-balancing of inward and outward focus as a problem. I can feel ill and remain quietly alone, replenishing my introverted well. I see now that I will spontaneously move out into my new world when I am ready. Both directions are fine, neither one better or worse than another. In fact, in moments of clarity, I don’t see much of a difference anymore. Inward or outward lose directional distinction when I embrace the underlying silence of being that I am courting and being courted by.