[commenter] The poem is good, but it seems a bit hard to get a handle on in my book. I’m not very esoteric, more practical and hard nosed … and hard headed. So I get the idea that God won’t give us what we cannot use, and maybe we’ll know more later than now; but how does one “live the questions”? That I don’t get.
Maybe I should just tell you the questions that I am living so that you can see the Rilke quotation in the context that it became appropriate to me: Last month I hit another boulder in the path of my psycho-spiritual journey. Instead of climbing atop the rock and surveying the landscape around me, instead of taking the long broad view, I curled up into a little weepy heap underneath it, letting its looming shadow overwhelm me.
I know and have known for months that I am not 100% recovered from hypoadrenia, not even really back to where I was before I realized that something was terribly wrong three years ago, but I've been pretty functional for most of the last year. Until this summer, when I’ve felt increasingly less able to see the healing process moving forward. Stagnation would be the most positive spin but backsliding seems the most accurate description. Or perhaps just setting aside the blinders of denial I’ve been wearing, trying to convince myself and those around me that I’m not really as ill as I am.
A friend of my daughter’s has been very ill this summer with what has finally been diagnosed as dysautonomia with POTS as its most outstanding symptom. As she and her family have struggled with finding help and healing, I became increasingly conscious of how much her symptom picture, and even more, the corporate symptom picture of dysautonomia in general, resemble my own situation. With that awareness, I also became less able to trick myself into thinking I was almost healthy.
Desperate for encouragement about my physical health, I pulled out the Adrenal Fatigue book I used to guide my healing journey. I haven't done the function tests since mid 2008 when I got the book. So I thought I could cheer myself up by retaking the tests and seeing how much better I am—NOT! I still flunked the tests really badly, although not quite as spectacularly as the first time I took them in 2008. I got really depressed after that and wrote my Middle Aged Rant.
So the question has become how do I live from here on out? Do I accept the diagnosis and prognosis of a chronic disease that I will probably never fully recover from, accept my limitations, accommodate them, and turn my focus on living the rest of my life well? Or do I keep focussing on trying to find healing, to be not physically limited, even if that means another year or more of my life spent in little more than pursuit of physical health? Do I start looking again for outside help (doctors, therapists) again in a vain chasing after diagnosis and prescriptions? Or continue with my own self-care but with the attitude of maintenance rather than recovery?
I am convinced that fundamentalism in its various guises, with its insistence on pursuit of perfection and shaming attitudes for failing that perfection, is largely responsible for my having become ill in the first place. Fundamentalist legalism, fear and shame, the cognitive dissonance that most fundamentalisms perpetrate were the driving forces that used up my adrenal function and left me prey for this half-life I feel as though I now have. The question I live is whether the fundamentalist disease has left me wounded (with the immediacy of healing) or scarred (all possible physical healing has occurred, accepting limitations and moving on is the focus)?
Of course, the correct response to any of Life’s apparent either/or questions is not to accept limiting polarity but to look for the resolution that accommodates both/and. Therefore it is true that I have both wounds still in need of healing and scars that need accommodation. It is true that I have both physical disabilities and that I have psychological conditions that exacerbate those disabilities. A hysterical disease is neither “all in her head” nor not-at-all-in-her-head.
It is also a long-established pattern in psychoanalysis that when a client comes very close to uncovering deeply-held unconscious issues, the protective strategies that enabled those unconscious issues in the first place work very hard to maintain the status quo, often manifesting as a worsening of the client’s presenting condition. Looking back this summer, I notice that my illness took its steepest turn for the worse immediately after a week in which I got very excited about a new direction in theological reading I had begun and I had an interview for a volunteer position where the director was strongly hinting that I consider a new career direction (the hinting was not significant psychologically, the fact that I encouraged the hint was significant). By the time I got home from the interview, I was overset by symptoms that have not let up since.
Quite obviously, when I can look with eyes that see, …
… although I can say in my head what I see so clearly, I am not able yet to admit it in print. As I got to this sentence, I was interrupted by several things that included a fight with both daughter and husband and a subsequent crying jag. Some time later, now I just can’t get back to writing that concluding paragraph; I’ve been on several procrastinating tasks and I’m admitting defeat. I’ll write what I’m beginning to acknowledge to myself as I can. It will surely be less startling to others than I have found it myself.