Refresher course in dark days

The legacy of late-stage chronic Lyme disease in my life is fear. It’s a low-level fear that informs so many of the decisions I make for myself and my family. I’ve become so used to obeying this fear, that I often forget it’s even there. And I forget that the reason it’s low-level and not devastating is because I take a pill to temper it every morning. I forget all this because my life is generally wonderful and there’s so much good in the world.

But it happens every once in awhile that the pill doesn’t work, and I’m reminded how it feels to be fearful and curled like a tight fist in bed. This past week I experienced several days of digestive issues which resulted in my pill not being properly absorbed. A backlog of unexpressed fear made itself known on an otherwise beautiful fall day and I succumbed in a hurry to all the big feels.

These dark days, these low days, these fearful days. The first shock is always their uninvited arrival. Although I’m not shy to talk about my mental health challenges, I tend to do so from a place of having already solved for x. How easy, how comfortable, to reminisce about the dark days after the sun has found me. To meet my students on their dark days and to have to remember what it felt like to stand in the shadows.

And what a good refresher it was. What a good reminder that “sitting with the discomfort” is the Everest of dark days and “cultivating gratitude” is the Kilimanjaro. To be reminded that the distance between bed and meditation cushion is the Camino de Santiago traversed barefoot and blindfolded and without hot water for tea.

Oh dear humans, this work is not easy. I’m reminded again and again how not easy it is. And I won’t suggest that it’s worth it in some grand karmic way because I’ve seen no proof of that. But I do know that if I send this little love note out into the world, someone will read it at exactly the right moment, and we will connect, hearts and minds, and both of us will feel less alone. So, I hit “publish”.

Image © 2018 Erin Bidlake

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