I have been quite healthy over the last couple years, and especially in the last year, thankfully.
In comparison to the history of me, in fact, I have been absurdly healthy.
After working my way through chronic illness for a very long time (I contracted Lyme disease four years ago while volunteering at a meditation center in France, and seemed to have experienced pretty much every other imbalance possible before that too), this period of relative physical ease has been a beautiful thing. And something I have, apparently, taken for granted.
The last few months have been increasingly harder, but in such a gradual way that I didn't even think to consider that it might be my old pal back again. It seemed like I just had strange, migrating weirdness in my guts, terrible sleeping patterns and intermittent headaches that I couldn't put a finger on, but not so drastically that they made me think I was back on the chronic bus. In all honesty I just figured it was because I wasn't really taking that good of care of myself, far too inclined to have a couple glasses of wine in the evening and not dedicate myself to meditation and yoga in the same way I normally do (which, of course, is why the symptoms came back..)
But, alas, it seems that it's all back again. I have been taking the lyme protocol herbs again and am now in the midst of a full-out Herxheimer reaction, the healing crisis that is so incredibly pronounced in this infection as my body attempts to fight the little buggers back. As they die-off they create an enormous amount of toxins that suffocate and frustrate my brain, liver, and pretty much everything else, making 'healing' feel a lot like getting more sick. At the moment I feel like a bag of shit, quite honestly.
It's a weird sickness, this one, and something I thought I was free of. I have worked with several healers through the process, and some have suggested I am totally clear of the infection while others are quite certain it will always be around. One of the greatest pieces of advice I was ever given was to 'not get attached to my disease' way back when I was first infected, and told to speak about it as little as possible, and this made so much sense to me. There is nothing like repeating a story of ownership like "I Have Lyme Disease" to make reality comply with your conscious and subconscious expectations, for how can you get better when that's what you keep telling yourself? I committed long ago to not attaching myself to that story, but to a different story where I come out still trusting the universe to give me what I need.
And so, today, as strange as this may sound, I am not here to write any more about 'having' Lyme disease or even about the difficulty of realizing that I have to go back into this pit of symptoms for a little bit, but to write on the gratitude I have for what the process has offered me, now and since it began.
I have never understood my body as well as I do now, having gone through years of healing. I have never appreciated a good sleep or a clear head or a predictable mood as I do every day now, knowing as I do how quickly it can be taken away from you. My gratitude has never been bigger for my hips and knees than on days where they don't swell and cry out, or for a day of smooth digestive functioning, comparing it as I do to when I'm nauseated, bloated and pained. Right now as I'm writing it's bizarrely difficult to focus my eyes, and there's a bleach smell that comes and goes as my brain attempts to release all the acetaldehyde that the little bastards make, and I am focused on thinking on how beautiful I felt last night when that wasn't happening, spending time with my partner and enjoying an amazing evening together.
Everything we focus on gets bigger, and every time we are challenged in a big way to not focus on what is bad the amount of growth that is offered to us by the situation is exponential. I could, right now (and certainly have done so at times) choose to see only the poor me in this whole deal, having to once again navigate how I'm going to sort all this nonsense out and come back to a place of relative health. I could regret that trip to France, blame the bugs themselves for being so terrible, live in fear of being infected again, or fall into despair at the recognition that chances are I might be working with this for the rest of my life. But where would that get me?
Like all difficult things, I know I can choose to learn and grow from this, and focus on the lessons themselves and the gratitude that always is behind such experiences, and as hard as that is when everything hurts it is the only choice, logically. If this is my life--and really, I still know how good I have it in comparison to most of the rest of the world, I am insanely blessed--then I best live it and not resist it. I will get better from this, again ( and maybe remember to take a little better care of myself in the long run..), but in the meantime here's to loving the process no matter what it looks like.
(As an addendum: I realized after writing this that I sound like a bit of a pious asshole, suggesting that we all should just get over ourselves and deal with it, whatever life is handing us. I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT. We all need to address the hurt and frustration we feel at life circumstances--and, as I mentioned, I did this for quite a long time when I first got infected--but at some point (and for me, this is some four years later) it is a powerful and amazing thing to find gratitude for what has been offered, whatever it looks like).
Hopefully you can get past the pious asshole part...