In my telephone counseling session last week, it became clear that the feelings of constriction about my current dietary requirements and the sense I have that all the corners of my blanket are flapping in my face indicated a lot of frustration. It also became clear that the frustration seemed to be related to very deep, very old feelings from childhood, though I couldn't quite figure out what those were. So my assignment for this week was to give myself the space and the stillness to let those feelings come up, and to pay attention when they do.
Unfortunately, I'm also dealing with some major pain at the moment -- nothing serious, but bad enough to impinge on both my activities and my joie de vivre. Though I can manage to stay somewhat comfortable during the day, the minute I get into bed, it feels like all hell breaks loose, which means that sleep has been somewhat elusive these past few nights. Last night was particularly difficult.
So there I was, attempting for the third time to fall asleep, lying in the dark listening to myself breathing into my CPAP machine, and I suddenly felt an onrush of incredibly strong emotion. The feelings were so intense that I could barely hold myself still, though at first I didn't even know what I was feeling, only that I was feeling something powerful. I fought the urge to get up (and the associated urge to stuff something into my mouth to try to regain equilibrium) and let myself be there with whatever it was, and after a few moments the usually still, small voice inside me started to yell (silently), "Why can't you take care of ME for a change?" and "I'm tired of always having to take care of myself and everybody else!"
I don't know who I was addressing, but it's pretty clear that my recent awareness of how burdensome it feels to have to be so continuously vigilant about my food choices etc. is related. And then there was the dream I had the night after my session -- a classic frustration dream involving my stepmother, KlezKamp, and my not running through fields, unable to find the place where I was supposed to be teaching until long after class was over. Nobody ever accused my subconscious of being subtle!
What have I learned from all of this? One is that I think I'm making less than optimal food choices from among the "safe" foods perhaps to kick against the fact that I do have to be so vigilant. I have, in the past, also stopped taking my asthma steroids on occasion when I felt overburdened by the need to take medicine for the rest of my life (an obstinacy which, thank goodness, does not seem to have affected my compliance with any of the medicine I'm currently taking for blood pressure, thyroid or gout).
The second thing I've learned is that I seem to have a deep-seated sense of neglect, in some way. I know that I've always been a pretty strong and self-sufficient person (I'm an oldest child), and people have always assumed that I can take care of myself just fine. The one time I ever had a melt-down during my young years was a few weeks before I left home (for good, as it turned out) to go to England. Everybody in my family was very busy with other issues, and no one was paying any attention to the fact that I was about to travel 3,000 miles away to an entirely different continent. When I got hysterical, the response was that it had never occurred to anybody that I might be having a problem with that.
Well, here it is, 35 years later, and I no longer have any trouble admitting that I need help, which is good. But I believe that much of my current angst revolves around feelings that I didn't take very good care of my young self, and yes, perhaps guilt about being the cause of my current health problems.
I don't know how to get through that, right now. But I'm sure I'll learn.
A hui hou.