Thursday, April 14, 2022

How to be Sick


Does it seem like I'm always at the doctor? Here's another selfie, this one from urgent care on Monday when I had what felt like strep throat. My hair looks lovely but I feel like total shit. 

I felt pretty worn out on Sunday, I took an at home Covid test and it was negative so I kept the walking date I had that morning. By Sunday afternoon I felt exhausted, heavy. Rest I thought. I just need a good night's sleep. 

I woke up Monday morning and it was clear I was sick. I had several things to do on Monday- clients, a meeting for a class I'm taking, and not just clients, one of the appointments a brand new client who was considering working with me. OH NO I thought. How can I make all these things happen? How can I just get through it?

Then, the sweet moment of realization that I did not have to make anything happen. I was sick. It is normal to be sick. It is normal to cancel everything when you are sick. Relief, then dread, thick dread. It felt wrong, and weird to think that way. What would my clients think? What about the brand new person? What a terrible impression to have to reschedule our first meeting. What about my classmates? They'll think I don't care. 

I had the out of body experience I have when I understand that my training is at work and I am living in my habit instead of being in the moment. I become two people: the old me, the one who thinks people judge you for canceling and it destroys your credibility and I am not really that sick, I am just lazy and dumb and careless. Ouch. Then the this me, the 50 year old who has been in recovery for almost 10 years and therapy for 7 years and working so hard to know what's real me gently comes in. She knows not to rush, or be loud. She mothers me, tenderly. This me knows what's real. 

I have to break it down into the most basic of basics in actual conversation with myself because I am still young in my practice of this kind of knowing about things. Wait Amy, 50 year old me says, without force or agenda. You are sick. You can feel it. You know what you're talking about. What would you tell someone else or your clients? Tell yourself that too. Now, what would you say? 

I answer myself, shyly. I would say if you're sick you take care of yourself. That being sick is not a character failing, but something that happens to everyone. That people are understanding. That if they aren't understanding those aren't your people. That to be in my integrity I cancel everything. I go to the doctor to make sure I don't have strep. And then I go to bed until I'm well. Old me and 50 year old me look each other in the eye. Together we open my email, we text clients to reschedule. No one is mad, or disappointed- they know who I am. We make the doctor appointment. Together. 

Often I am so angry at the part of me that kept me drinking and numb for so long. The part that made me work when I was actually sick, that never let me see how bad things were. TWENTY SEVEN YEARS!!! I want to scream at that part, over and over. I want to be so angry at it, to burn it down, to shame it and hurt it and reject it and ask it how on earth could you be so fucking foolish while I'm standing there close in so it can see the anguish of what it's done. 

It knows. She knows. I know. 

I am to the point where I am starting to feel my feelings and recognize my true feeling. I don't know how to say it better than plain like that. When you master numbing out for the majority of your life there are fathoms and trenches to tirelessly swim through before you feel the tiny jolt of aliveness that matches what you're truly actually really feeling. Oh, I will think. I FEEL MAD. Oh. 

It seems like such a simple thing: to be sick. And then to take the normal steps that you take when you are sick, that are new steps to me. What a glorious moment! To recognize myself and to openly care for myself in front of people. It feels monumental. 


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