Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hard days

These past few months I have had to face reliving many of the uglier aspects of my past. Things that are happening to other people are stirring many memories, all filled with pain, sorrow, disappointment, heartbreak, grief. As much as I have been trying to live in the moment and not allow these events dredge up the muckier parts of my life, I have not been able to keep my thoughts clear of the harder aspects. I can not change anything that has happened to me, nor would I, as I am who I am because of my experiences. I feel helpless in the face of the pain that my friends are enduring. so what is there to do? Acknowledge the events that haunt me, own my past actions, learn how to forgive myself and others and try to be of as much support as I can to those who are having to suffer through similar in today and not let yesterday rule. That's all easy to say, but putting it into actual practice is as big a challenge as I have faced in a long time. I am finding myself feeling worn down by  just too much of, life, illness, death. I guess growing older brings this on, my friends are growing older too and it seems to be the fate of many to be stricken- with cancer, prolonged suffering, uncertainty, and fear for the future. I have experienced all of that, both personally and through the lives of people dear to me and right now it feels never ending. I have survived much sorrow, have had hard choices thrust upon me, and felt the despair that comes with hopelessness. But I have survived and I imagine I will continue to, but it's hard right now to see beyond today's sadness.


Jeff- in the Berkshires said...

Hi Peg, this is a long comment so I am breaking it into 2 for blogger to accept it.

As I just walked through the family room on the way to the computer my youngest was eating lunch and watching a movie and the image on the screen was the beam of a lighthouse piercing through a dense white fog.

How appropriate that image is as I read your post.

I too have been going through some difficult shit the last several months and there have been times when I wasn't sure how I was going to make it though or that I would. Similar to you I have pain in my past that I have struggled to put to rest and it has an annoying way of attaching itself to a current experience and seems to make it worse. Peg, I know your experiences are very different and I would never say, "I know how you feel" because I don't. Our individual journeys are so uniquely beautiful in their complexities and in the way we walk them and the issues we face are very different. Even though our experiences either with health or life may be similar and we can perhaps share advice from our experiences, it is very unique to each of us. All I can really say that as you struggle through your journey there is someone else bearing witness and there in spirit and thought.

On some level I know I will get through the crap that has been and is burdening me and I hope the same for you..

As you may have caught on from my comments and when I commented to Sharyn, I have a fairly deep spiritual core that I draw on when things are rally tough. This core is probably more in adaptations of Buddhist /Zen traditions. I am by no means religious though I actively practice in a more traditional western congregation that accepts my quirky approach and is totally supportive and nurturing and doesn’t even chuckle at my fumbling of some of the more traditional parts that one would call “religion” . I believe in a Great Spirit and in the practice prayer as a form of healing. I have seen it work on others and on myself.

A few weeks back I was asked to visit a couple of people in the hospital that wanted communion. Sure, I say. I serve on a rotation of volunteers that does a week on cal to do visits and I carry a little container of “oil” with me most times to use in prayer. This week was perhaps the height of the bad that was going on with me at the time and I was feeling as alone as I could remember and was questioning that faith that has been with me. Why did I volunteer to do this? I didn’t even know the specifics of what to say or do giving communion, but they had faith in sending me. They wanted me to see two people but only one asked for communion but I asked for enough to be added for two.

Jeff- in the Berkshires said...

It was a couple days before Christmas and the first person was in the psychiatric part and having no connection to the church I belong to, she just asked for the visit. As I fumbled my way though the parts of giving communion and praying with her, she said that she wanted part of her earlier life brought back to her and that my presence to her was just such an amazing gift. Needless to say I was totally humbled as she then just walked away. As I walked into the room of the second, he struggled from a weaken pose from a mild stroke and said he didn’t think anyone would come because it was so close to Christmas and he told me how though all that was not going well with him in life and with his help, he wondered if he would make it through and if his faith had abandoned him. In a way I was looking and talking with myself. He had been a deacon and delivered communion for years so I was a little intimidated but as I spoke and prayed I found that I was helping myself heal as I was shoring him up. Almost as if he was reading me he commented that he could see in my eyes such a deep and strong faith that reassured him that he would be ok. I was blown away. .

So why have I responded with such long a revealing story? Peg, over the years though your writing I have seen a similar strong faith and courage. Perhaps we practice it differently but as I have said before, I see it clearly there. As I relayed this story back to the person who sent me for the visits, she replied that coincidences such as these can never be explained and that it is not uncommon for the healer to receive healing and that perhaps one of the best ways for me to get though the rough part now in my life, to keep it in balance and to forgive myself for the past is to be of service to others. This is not first time I have been told this and when I have done it in the past it has also helped. To be healed as I heal.

Peg, perhaps it is time for you to look how you can serve others that are not making demands on you and that would nourish your soul. You wrote about being a mentor. Could you carve out a couple hours a week? You don’t have to make it a job to do this. Is there a soup kitchen you could volunteer a few hours a month to? Notice I said “month” not day or week. Something to connect you in a different way to life outside. To get validation of the many gifts your have to share.

You are in my thoughts.


peg said...

A few years ago in a prolonged period of unemployment I volunteered for the Hospice at St.Luke's in Bethlehem, PA. It was the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself when my Mom was in hospice care. My time as a volunteer was probably one of the most satisfying times of my life.

In training, they told us that most volunteers end up feeling that they gain far more than they give, and that was so true. I sat with people when their families needed respite, I made follow up phone calls to the bereaved and in all of it, I walked away, I believe, a better person, humbled by the kindness and wisdom of those I went to see or talked to.

It has been in my thoughts to renew my volunteering(on a limited basis) ever since I donated half of the proceeds from my Farmer's Market day to that same Hospice, which happened to be the one my friend Cheryl had been with when she died. I donated on her behalf, and after my friend, L's surgery tomorrow, I will call them and re-up. I feel that Cheryl is prompting me in this, that her death was a catalyst, something to get me out from under all of this grief.

I know that some people think that volunteering to sit with dying people is a morbid, sad thing to do, but I never found it so. The gratitude and warmth from the families and the patients was very rewarding, and I had things happen between me and my 'people' that I could not explain, but that reassured me that we are not alone, that there is a reason in all things, and that only by caring for others can we achieve peace within.

I will follow your advise, and step back outside of myself to share in life with others. I know it is something that will help me find a bit of contentment that I have lost along the way, as I have lost my way. We do walk parallel paths, you and I. I am glad to know that you are there and that I am not alone. You have my deepest regards and appreciation for all of your kindness to me.

Jeff- in the Berkshires said...

Hi Peg,
Just checking in on you. Keeping you in thought.