Thursday, November 18, 2010

A View From the Abyss

"I tried so hard to do and think all the Right Stuff and now I’ve spent the last three years unable to function to anyone’s expectations, much less everyone’s.  When I attempt too much, my body starts to give out.  And should I not pay sufficient attention, my mind goes—the black holes in there take over more and more of my cognitive function. I extended myself no grace for failure all those years and now I lack grace of gait and thought, a lurching facility of deed and word." (here)
After I posted these words six weeks ago, I hoped this admission and the victorious declaration that followed would become truth for having been stated.  When that expectation did not become my experience, oh, how I crawled like Jonah into my little hovel to hold close my misery and chant my “woe-is-me’s”.
“Just kill me now, LORD! I'd rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen."  (Jonah 4:3, New Living Translation) 
The weather here has finally turned to fall.  From unseasonable daytime highs of 90F/42C when November began, we are belatedly getting to temperatures around 70F/22C.  The lower temps have been great for my physical well-being.  Part of the mess I’ve been in this year stems from the fact that my autonomic nervous system is wildly dysfunctional.  Among other effects of this dysfunction is an inability to tolerate heat (or cold, but that is not so often a problem here in the desert).  Having accomplished so much healing spiritually and physically last fall and winter, I was entirely unprepared for how much this summer’s heat would debilitate me. 

The real kicker of the year, though, was what I did to myself.  Late last spring our Medical Benefits Account managers decided that the supplement protocol I was buying for my condition was no longer an approved expense.  Neither is it covered by my insurance so my remedies had to start coming out of our regular monthly budget.  And that is very hard for me to do.

Allowing myself and my healing process to rank high enough on the list of priority spending is all but impossible when it means admitting that I am actually sick and not just lazy or malingering, and that I deserve to spend money on my health even if it means the sacrifices will be some of my girls’ educational or extracurricular activities, or the family’s groceries.  The martyred mother archetype has been ingrained in me by our culture, my childhood religion, and the immediate example of my mother’s own early death. Like the Good Mother, the self-sacrificing, self-martyring, Holy Mutha’ that I am, I rarely place refilling my supplement protocol above near-bottom of our budget.

I let my remedies run down, didn’t refill them promptly or at all.  By October, I was completely off all my supplements and my triumph-over-perfectionism post marked the last-ditch effort to pull myself out of the abyss by willpower alone.  Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work against the physical dysfunctions of my body and brain.  A week later, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably in the bathtub while my husband begged me to get help.  I scared my family but I scared myself even more because I was already thinking favorably about a Final Solution.  My usual injunctions against suicide, with appeals to familial obligation, leaving my children motherless, left me untouched.  And that terrified me.

I told my husband that I still don’t trust anyone not to make me worse (as has been the case with the overwhelming majority of professionals whose help I have sought over the years).  I already know the remedies I need, I just can’t make myself order them regularly.  It was an enormous effort on my part, much greater than it would seem from reading these words, to ask my husband for his help.  I simply need someone to make sure that I treat myself with the same care that I would give a client—monthly follow-ups and adjustments to protocols—and to check that I’ve actually ordered the remedies.

So I’ve been back on my protocol for a month.  Although the first doses pulled me back from the very precipice, it had taken most of these weeks to feel as though I’m not within stepping distance of the Abyss.  It has been hard to admit that I really cannot control my life, my body, my health or well-being by sheer will-power.  That there are conditions that a “suck it up and get on with things” attitude simply cannot overcome.  That I am not lazy or malingering, nor shirking my responsibilities, nor letting my family down, when I take the time, money, or rest necessary to my health.  That martyrdom is not holy.   Holiness is life, lived abundantly, joyously, and with humble gratitude for the precarious precious nature of life’s realities.


  1. Oh. My. Goodness. Take care of yourself!!! We need you! The world needs you. We need your voice, your laugh, your creativity, your honesty, your insight, your existence. You are a gift to us all Sandra.

    I am so glad your husband I said "Thanks!"

  2. This is the first post by you that I have read--I'm passing through from the @NoQuivering Twitter feed--and I am VERY glad you got help. No one deserves to live that way.

    Please thank your husband for me, too.