in which I am working on compassion

My favorite daily- use cane.

My favorite daily- use cane.

My left leg is being an idiot again.

It had been behaving for a bit there; not perfect, not ideal, but just okay enough that I was feeling hopeful. Today, though. Today I woke up with it feeling heavy, leaden, achy, dull and less- than- responsive. Stupid leg. Idiot leg. I got out of bed and immediately felt a flash of loathing for this appendage, as though it was a separate entity: I hate you so much right now, you awful thing, I thought.

About half an hour later I was on my porch, drinking coffee and looking at our roses, talking to Sam. I was telling him that my leg wasn’t working correctly, wondering if the stress from the 4th had anything to do with that. My therapist tells me stress can have a physical impact on the body, and my neurologist agrees. So does science, which is inconvenient. (Am I seriously telling you about things my therapist said now? OH GOD. There is nothing more boring than a conversation about someone’s therapy. I AM SORRY.)

I’ve talked about the body- hate that can come with being chronically ill before. It’s tricky. It’s easy, that’s the problem: when your body is frustrating and hurts, you just don’t feel terribly fond of the thing, and that “not terribly fond” can escalate pretty quickly. The thing is, if I were talking about depression, or my weight, or- I don’t know, my skin or my hair or any other aspect of my body, especially a more hypothetically superficial/ visual one, I wouldn’t talk this way at all. I’d work my ass off at re- focusing my thoughts. I’d try to meet myself with compassion and kindness. I’d build myself up. I’d say cheesy but annoyingly true things to myself like, “If someone you loved was saying things like this about themselves, would that be okay?”

And yet, because this is all related to my disease, I don’t do these things. I simmer. I bake. I allow.

Ah, bullshit: I just love the way you creep in. You’re so tricky.

It is bullshit, isn’t it? Brilliant, absolute bullshit. A whole truckload of it. I’d put good money on the stress of the 4th having kicked off a minor reaction in my body, resulting in my leg acting out. It makes sense. It follows my body’s previous patterns, if we disregard the leg having not been the particular symptom in question: stress, whether it was physical or mental, precedes symptoms, which pass in a day or two. (Flares just happen, although sometimes they come after I’ve really, really overdone it.)

My body is just telling me things. That’s what’s happening with my leg. My leg isn’t an idiot at all. What the hell? And I can be frustrated, and it can be a pain in the ass- it’s less than convenient, no question- but sitting around and actually hating my leg isn’t doing me any good. NEWSFLASH: SITTING AROUND FLIPPING MY LEG THE BIRD IS FIXING NOTHING.

It didn’t even give me the giggles, guys.

I can meet this with compassion, though. I can try to offer this body compassion. I’m not even sure where to begin, but I feel like that’s what I need to do here- to find a way to start being kind, instead of trying to elbow my way through. God, I’ve got to stop treating this body like a 20- something athlete and instead start really attending and listening. Every time I stop to listen to my body, I’m still trying to use anything I learn to push my way forward, instead of taking care of it. AGH. I need to start meeting this body with care, and concern, and kindness. I mean, isn’t that something we all need to do? Why the hell am I skipping out on this? Oh yeah, my DISEASE. How utterly silly.

I need to meet this pain with humor, compassion, grace and kindness. I can’t force my way out of it- I live here. I’ll live in this body until I die, and with MS, things won’t get any better. There’s just no way to bully my way into better condition, into better health: that’s actually a surefire way to push myself into a worse place, mentally and physically. I need to learn to settle in, to settle down.

Oh god, so much to learn. Always, though; isn’t that the way? I remember, after my diagnosis, being overwhelmed: so much I will need to know.

So: a jumbled mess of thoughts for this morning, just me spilling out whatever hits the keys. The tl;dr: I woke up this morning with a jacked- up leg, and it’s teaching me something, I hope. Today I am trying to meet my body with compassion and kindess. We’ll see how that goes. I’m a damned slow learner some times.

(What are you working on this weekend?)

  One thought on “in which I am working on compassion

  1. July 6, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Dealing with the cards we are dealt is never easy. But I feel like you’re a step ahead of the game by recognizing that you need to settle in. I can never settle in, so i admire you.

    • July 6, 2013 at 11:44 am

      Oh, Katie, I’m terrible at settling in, or settling down! It’s my one of weakest points. At least I’ve made it a goal, though- who knows. I feel like we ALL need to work on being kind to our bodies and looking to them with compassion in some way- god, especially women in this society, but that’s a different post, right? Thanks for the kind words- I really appreciate that. This is a bit of a new approach for me, instead of my usual jerk “hurry up and get in line” approach with my body. At the very least, I will enjoy my day a lot more, I think. 🙂

  2. July 6, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Being kind to ourselves is the hardest thing of all. But it is also the most important thing of all. I love your posts. Keep marching on.

    • July 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Thank you so much, Warren! And you’re so right- it’s always easier to be kind to others than ourselves. Why is that?

  3. Carol
    July 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Also the very hot humid weather is not doing your body any favors either. That seems to make symptoms worse.

    • July 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      You’re right, Carol- that’s a really good point. The air in Baltimore has been so humid recently, I think we might be able to drink it! Summer is always a challenging time. All the more reason to be kind to ourselves, right? ❤

  4. July 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    I hope that some of the kindness and compassion you are offering your body is in the form of really good dark chocolate. Or whatever else your favorite kryptonite is… Big hugs, lady. (And have you thought about spoofing your cane up? My mom put a big freaking tassel and a rhinestone ornament on hers. Seemed to help make her feel better…)

    • July 6, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Fancy canes are one of my favorite weaknesses! I’m working on a new design to keep myself occupied and happy this weekend, though- something simple and modern, dedicated to my great- grandmother. Chocolate sounds like a grand idea, now that you mention it…

  5. MikeW
    July 7, 2013 at 5:39 am

    The commenters are on target today and I can only add another Like to signal my admiration and agreement with them. Love this blog and your spacious writing voice, so accessible to a wide range of readers. There’s much to learn from each other.

    • July 7, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Thank you so much, Mike. The warmth and kindness of all the comments on this blog is so amazing. ❤

  6. SandyK
    July 7, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Stay strong, you are an inspiration.

    Today, my daughter and I are casting on Stephen Wests Safetly Scarf for out own mini-KAL. I am be using some vintage SG QED.

    • July 7, 2013 at 10:31 am

      Aw, Sandy, you’re so kind. And hooray, QED! I loved that yarn so much! I’d love to see that finished object. 🙂

  7. July 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    This is my first time to comment here, but in many ways I can relate. It seems so obvious and yet, at times, the greatest challenge to settle in with compassion, kindness, care and love for ourselves. Sending love to you today! – Melissa

    • July 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Melissa, you’re right: I don’t know why, but it seems so much more challenging to extend kindness to ourselves. What’s that all about? I think a lot of us struggle with this. ❤

      • July 7, 2013 at 7:41 pm

        Until we wake up one day and decide that’s totally ridiculous and cut ourselves some much needed slack!!! 🙂 Can you tell I’m typing this from the beach today? It’s my happy place!

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