What is it about change that can spark either dread or joy? It is what can take what we know as our normal life and literally turn it upside down or even sideways.
But, not all change can be bad, even if it starts out bad. Some change that seems difficult, challenging or even frightening can be a spring board for launching us into something we would never have done or even considered had that 'thing' not occurred.
I haven't written for over year. It has been intentional actually. I determined to wait until today, December 21st because it was today, that something bad, launched me into a tailspin of change that I never dreamed I would experience. I wanted to wait to capture how a free fall tailspin can recover and soar, when it feels like too much change will make you crash beyond all recognition.
Today, one year ago my life got upended by contracting covid. Although I was never hospitalized or in dire condition, thankfully, for me, it was a very challenging and humbling experience. I am not one who gets sick. I have no medications I take outside of vitamins. I am active, athletic and keep busy pretty much all the time. It's like all those things were some sort of prideful badge of honor (now that I reflect!). When I have gotten sick, it usually passes through me quickly, showing progression of healing daily.
Not the case with the version of covid. It just never let go. It wore me down physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually. Praying constantly for healing. Pushing myself mentally to 'get better', to suck it up and stop worrying about it.
After three days I thought I felt better. I had just a low grade fever and sinus junk so I went out shopping for food, masked of course, because a big snow storm was coming! By five pm Christmas Eve, I knew my normal sucking it up and get moving methodology was a huge mistake. I had gone in that morning for a covid test but hadn't gotten the results as of yet. But that night, I realized that the Vicks I was using on my nose and chest hadn't gotten ineffective but rather my sense of smell was completely gone. So, I did a second check by sticking my nose in a bottle rubbing alcohol...nope, nothing. So there it was. Even before the confirmation of the test came back, I knew, I had gotten the Big C! Then the fever jumped as did all the other symptoms with a vengeance. I was really sick.
The fever persisted. The fatigue wouldn't let up. I missed Christmas with my family with much emotion. It was so emotionally painful to stand outside in the cold, masked up while my family lined up on the porch and more looking out the window, while I handed packages to my nephew to distribute to the family. I cried all the way home. Home - to my empty lonely house where endless hallmark movies became my only form of relational warm fuzzy...(I think I now suffer from Hallmark PTSD!)
It is amazing how a difficulty can ebb away at our resolve to be a certain way. My resolve to be tough, resilient, tenacious, independent and yes, in control of my health - I got uprooted in a big way. I was now vulnerable, but mostly, finally at my end of self preservation, self protection and fear of needing anyone. I was finally at the end of all the lifetime emotional efforts to not let myself get hurt. It was amazing that the real genuine me, was finally free to move about... and it was the most frightening and freeing feeling I ever experienced.
After seven days of trying to manage this sickness on my own, I asked for help. My neighbors picked up some vitamins for me. Another neighbor picked up a patio umbrella that blew over. And most amazing is help in the form of a dear friend, whom we had been doing the 'dance' of friendship and dating together for over 18 years, (with the exception of an 8 year hiatus), who came to my ultimate rescue.
With deep snow on the ground and tons falling from the sky, my friend Rod ventured 75 miles in snow and ice to become my knight in a snow and dirt covered Volkswagon bearing a medication that was voodoo but was working for thousands of people.
Two days later, my fever left me. After five days, my energy started to return. But here is the most impactful part of this story...
The next day after Rod brought me the medication, he slipped and fell on the ice in the evening hitting his head very hard. As he lay on the ice, the first person he thought of was me. He dialed me, but I didn't answer. I didn't answer because I had seven minutes left on my hallmark movie and I reasoned I could just call him back.
When I called him and learned what had happened, I was overcome with grief and humility. Grief that I could be so selfish after what he had just done for me the day before and grief that he could have had a serious brain injury and lay dying alone on the ice. Humility for realizing just how selfish I could be that seven minutes of a predictable movie was more important than this generous mans life. It is still humbling to share this part of my story, but it is the reality of I am sure, not just me but maybe some of you reading this now, in how we interact in relationships with those in our lives. So many distractions we think are so important just might diminish our last encounters with loved ones. I don't take interruptions for granted anymore.
What I learned most from this situation was that when I finally let my vulnerability guard down, gave up my self importance and self sufficiency and allowed others to love me in ways that blessed them, I could also love them in deep ways and much to my surprise, not be crushed and overwhelmed by the emotions. It's crazy the things we allow ourselves to believe for a large part of our lives. My normal way of relating was flipped on its ear.
What 'normal' in your life needs to be flipped on its proverbial ear? Are you a 'this is the way I have always done it' kind of person? Or maybe, a 'this is the way I am, live with it' person? Maybe you are like me. A frightened little person inside that can't let people get too close or see too much of the real person inside for fear you will annihilated emotionally? Whatever your self preservation is, don't wait until the carpet gets pulled out from underneath you. Don't wait until you think you can't see a way to change how you are. There is always opportunity with the right circumstances. But like me, those circumstances had to knock me, (and Rod literally) on our arses.
There are more stories to tell for what happened since December 21st 2021. A whole year of change, upheaval and who'duh thought this would happen stuff that is pretty amazing as well as challenging. For now, I will leave you with a guess who got Married in 2022? Yep...Rod and I got married 6 months later.
Oh the stories to tell and the lessons learned and are still learning. But you will have to wait for the next blog because if I don't stop writing now, this will be a book and not a blog.
Until next time...
Have a Very Merry Christmas!