* Today's post - "Letting Go"
* Reminds Me of the Time - "Blueberries, Victoria, and a Migraine"
* Resources - Web sites, etc for learning deep relaxation
"Let go and let God."
Don't you just hate it when these sorts of platitudes are used as nothing more than Band-Aids tossed at a gaping wound by someone who cannot or will not stay with you and your pain even for a moment? The words feel dismissive and insensitive, and so at best they are meaningless, at worst, one more statement that makes you feel like your pain is somehow your fault. Which also makes it easier for the platitude-dropping other to go on her way undisturbed by you.
Yes, that sounds cynical. Yet, cynical or not, it is honestly the way I react to the casual instruction when I am in pain. Being an impulsive and often impatient person, what I really feel is the spasmodic twitching of my right hand as I restrain it from grasping and then heaving the nearest heavy object at the speaker: "LET THIS!" I grudgingly refrain, not out of some loving, altruistic regard for the one who is mouthing idiocies at me, but because it would take too much of a toll on the precious little energy I have in reserve. Therefore, I have learned not to allow these feelings to show. Certainly, I already know not to throw dictionaries; what I have learned is to cover over the hurt. It is far too exhausting to pick up the pieces of the broken friendship after an impulsive, angered reaction. It takes less energy and time to respond with my own ever-ready platitude ("Amen!") and leave.
When I have a migraine, I am hypersensitive to almost everything. (See Reminds Me of the Time, below.) In the hot weather, even the movement over my skin of the cooling breeze of a fan, the hum of the air conditioner, and the squeaking of my beloved little dog's favorite toy pluck my nerves. In this state, it is easy to pile nerve-wracker upon nerve-wracker until I am nervous and upset about being so nervous and upset.
So that is when I say to myself, "Let go. Let God."
No, I do not immediately arise and clock myself upside the head with a lead crystal vase. Coming from deep within my spirit with the feel of a warm and loving hand resting lightly on my forehead, this is no platitude - this is powerful spiritual wisdom. In the small space that it allows me, I can begin to let go of the nervous frustration and fear.
"Let go." I am reminded to breathe deeply and restfully.
"Let go." In the exhalation's release begins the nerves' release.
"Let go." Attention to the inhalation allows attention to the quieting of my mind.
"Let go." The relaxed motion of the diaphragm encourages deep relaxation in tense muscles.
"Let go." The space created by deep, calm breaths makes spacious the knotted energy around the pain.
"Let go." Quiet mind, quiet body.
** Next post: Letting God **
Reminds Me of the Time
The kitchen at Miriam's House gets really hot in the summertime. It's a fairly large space, but filled as it is with heat-producing motors - on the ice machine, the three-door refrigerator and the freezer - a 10-burner stove and two ovens, even several ceiling vents releasing an air-conditioned breeze cannot keep up. So on the July Sunday that I was making breakfast for the house and feeling a migraine coming on, I was struggling to maintain my composure.
"Hey, whatcha cookin'?" Victoria, whom I loved, and whom I knew also as a chronic complainer: that she was also hilariously funny - something you could easily see in her lop-sided grin - helped. Most of the time.
"Pancakes, bacon, home-fries, ..." I didn't even finish the list.
I eyed her warily. "Well, no, Victoria, not this week." Uh, oh.
"You know that's my favorite. Last time you made them you didn't even make your blueberry syrup to go with them." Victoria never exactly pouted, but I have not known anyone who could so easily assume an expression of hurt betrayal. I studiously avoided looking at her face, knowing my patience was at gossamer strength. Luckily, the bacon needed tending, so unwillingness to look Victoria in the eyes wasn't added to the plain pancake affront.
"Blueberries are out of season, sweetie. And not all the residents like 'em, so I thought plain would be a good change."
"You said you'd make blueberry, remember? At the ER? When that guy took off his pants in front of you?"
"Good grief, Victoria, it wasn't in front of me, really, and how do you expect me to ..." Suddenly, the kitchen was swarmed by the residents who had been waiting for breakfast in the dining room and overheard the references to "took off his pants" and "in front of you".
"WHAT? Took his pants off in front of Miss Carol? Hahahahaha! When?" Interest in this juicy story made them deaf to my pleas to get out of the hot, crowded kitchen.
Victoria, an inveterate lover of attention, was in her element. "Rolls off his stretcher thing in the ER and stumbles around, like he don't know where he is. Drunk and ..."
It was my turn to interrupt. "GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN! How am I supposed to cook?"
As I rarely lost my temper - at least in front of the residents - six chastened women left in rather a hurry, surprised, I should guess, by my vehemence. I, of course, felt immediately guilty for shouting at them. I turned my frayed attention back to the bacon. The burning bacon.
Time for a deep breath, a sip of tea, a gathering of the shredded remnants of my patience. Victoria and her audience were huddled in the dining room for the highly dramatized (I had no doubt) denouement of the story as I went about trying to rescue the bacon. Great - plain pancakes and burned bacon for breakfast, AND I was hot and my head was starting to go. Could this morning get any more miserable?
At that moment, Victoria's voice rose above its stage whisper. I could hear it from where I stood at the stove and recognized in its tone the approach of the dramatic high point of the story. I had to giggle. It was a pretty funny story, and the way Victoria told it drew another giggle from me as well as a happily horrified gasp from the women around her:
"We saw it."
Resources for Deep Relaxaton
http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_relief_meditation_yoga_relaxation.htm - great site that explains deep relaxation, breathing techniques, and advises on ways to start a relaxation program while taking into account that many of us have busy lives
http://www.allaboutdepression.com/relax/ - Listen to audio recordings (uses quicktime)
There are plenty of audio CDs that teach deep relaxation and meditation: I found audio the best way to learn deep relaxation, because it is immediate and part of actual pratice (as opposed to reading a book then trying the technique). I use Amazon to see what's available and for an inexpensive way to try new recordings.
I'd love to hear from you: click the Comment link below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol D. Marsh
- With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90 days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.