It’s amazing how the strangest things can shake you up and make you aware of what life is about.
I wish I could have these magical Mary Oliver moments to find the beauty of my life and the wonder of the world around me.
Mary Oliver sees the truth of why we are here in every sunset, each fluttering butterfly, in every warm fluffy kitten and loving puppy nuzzle. She takes boxes of darkness and turns them into gifts in just a few simple words.
I have my moments of awakening while stricken with a stomach virus and spewing my insides out from every possible orifice on my body.
It all began Sunday evening. I came down with the the horrific stomach virus that has been going around. I thought maybe I drank too much at the St. Paddy’s parade. But I had only 2 plastic cups of beer. Why the hell was I dizzy, doubled over, and running to the bathroom every 2 minutes?
Hubby said it was because I “wasn’t Irish” like him. He discovered he was a quarter Irish a few years ago after meeting his birth mother (he’s adopted) and all of a sudden he’s Colin-fucking-Farrell…
My 1/8 Irish 8 year old starts chiming in”Yeah – mom. you’re not Irish. You just can’t drink, mom.”
Pretty bold words for someone who spent the day drinking Shirley Temples (WHO can’t handle alcohol, little punk?) but whatever. I went to bed hoping it would all go away.
It didn’t. I woke up Monday morning and realized I was sick.
I proceeded to have the anxiety attack of the gainfully employed – my coworkers would see I was fine on Sunday… I put my parade pictures with my son and hubby up on Facebook!
“They’ll think I’m lying!!!” the voice that speaks all of my anxieties started yammering away, “They’ll assume I’m just calling out on a Monday because I’m hungover and don’t care about the job I don’t have anymore… anymore.”
I rolled out of bed and started stuffing myself unsuccessfully into pants (apparently the virus pumped air into my gut overnight and I had trouble closing my pants. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it).
I then gave up on presentable pants and started searching madly for sweatpants and told Hubby I’ll drive to work, let them see me vomit, and then go home. This way they’ll know I’m not faking.
Yeah. This is how my mind works.
Hubby informed me that I will do no such thing. I will stop worrying about what other people think, and I will get back into bed.
Stop worrying about what other people think….?
He has known me now for almost 13 years. What the hell was he talking about???
I was too weak to argue. I went back to bed, and slept all day. I never sleep all day. But, that day, my body was done.
It was no longer going to serve as a vehicle for my hysteria and act as my coffee receptacle and listen to my onslaught of insults and demands that day. My body said “Screw you, lady” and literally crapped the hell out on me. My body went on strike and took the rest of me hostage.
In the worst fucking way imaginable.
But – how else was I going to pay attention?
That day and the day after that I stayed in my sweats, spent good quality time in the bathroom, and battled dehydration like a boss. But – in between, I read my books, binge watched Shameless and Woody Allen movies (I know… I know…. He’s my guilty pleasure. A nebbish New Yorker with movies that remind me of my 70s and 80s Manhattan upbringing. I can’t resist them especially when sick, regardless of the whole controversy surrounding him).
Little by little I started feeling better. I went from miso soup to crackers to toast to eventually simple, bland food. I could not plow into the ice cream and wine just yet, but… baby steps
I had time to lay down and just think. Because when I am sick and convinced that I am dying (I am kind of a hypochondriac, shocking, I know), I start to wax philosophic and contemplate my entire existence.
Someone once told me that when you are sick, your body is trying to tell you something. So it was time for me to step back and listen.
Much like Mary Oliver before a vast ocean, I gazed upon the beauty around me – my dirty socks in a pile, the pants I couldn’t zip up still crumpled on the floor, balls of cat fur on what I believed was my black hoody-turned-cat bed, my water glass with the book over it to keep the cats out of it.
The half-read books on my night stand that I haven’t cracked open in 6 months but still kept by my bed because they made me look smart…. and I pondered.
I started to see my depression as the stomach flu. Hitting me like a ton of bricks. Painful and debilitating. Interfering with my life and my joy and my ability to move from one end of the house to the other. Sucking my energy and just sucking in general.
But – it would not be forever
I guess I needed that opportunity to stop and see my depression as something passing – an ailment afflicting me and not something worming its way into my psyche. Just like I am not diarrhea and vomit (although I am pretty sure my son angrily told me I was when he was 3), I am not some lethargic sad sack who is forever a failure. I was just going through a thing that will eventually clear up and go away.
Everything is temporary. That is essentially Buddhism 101. Good shit. Bad shit. It is all temporary (I’m paraphrasing Buddha here. I don’t think he ever used the S-word). But… Part of being in that mindful “observation” mode that Buddhists talk about is not attaching yourself to your thoughts. Or to labels. Or to feelings. Or things. It is about not letting anything define you – objects, thoughts, people, puke. Events should not define us, or our state of mind. They should just “be”.
You have arrived when you can just sort of observe without getting your panties in a bunch over it.
I am not even going to pretend I am anywhere near this whole mindful, observing passively nonsense.
I am just happy to say that I am done with having explosive diarrhea for the time being.
So… there’s that.