I’d assume if you’re a person of a certain age, you have found yourself Googling symptoms x, y, or z at some point in your life. I’ve had a couple scares over my lifetime, or someone I love has, and have surfed through sites in search of symptoms that might point me in some direction of clearer understanding.
There was an almost eerie silence over the house Sunday morning as I sat at my desk, and opened my special devotional. Was it a coincidence that I found the Words, My grace is sufficient? or soon found myself reading in Deuteronomy, Do not be afraid? How many times and in how many situations have I found comfort in those few Words?
I haven’t talked much about it, in fact, I have minimized it to myself and my doctor, saying what I was experiencing was the result of my kick butt workout classes. But over the weekend, my husband looked at me and said, You need to call Dr. Von. Suddenly, just like that, I was afraid.
You might know what it feels like to have someone step into your fear with you, at least I hope you do. I can’t really put it into words. Todd has done this before, putting up with my periods of sulking silence, sometimes for more than a day, while my emotions simmered and settled. What a guy. He knows how to counter my fire and give me space. He used to call it a chemical reaction. He understood.
The day arrived, many years ago now, when I realized I didn’t have to suffer in silence behind the black cloud that would descend upon me. It would close in unexpectedly, I would muscle through it with long runs and, of course, dance. When I shared my almost paralyzing anxiety one day with a close friend, she told me she had a doctor she could recommend if the running stopped working for me. How will I know? I said. Maybe you won’t be able to run anymore? She said. Sure enough. I ended up with tendonitis in both Achilles’ tendons, even with lifts in my shoes. I called the doctor.
I don’t know why I had waited so long. He listened to me, asked questions and then reassured me that, under the circumstances, I was doing great. When he asked about my alcohol consumption I said, two to three glasses of wine a day, depending on the size of the glass. He smiled. When he asked me if I smoked, I said, Yes, one to two cigarettes a day. He said, Wow, I would smoke if I could do that. I smiled. I think it’s my Native American blood, I said. I don’t know why I said that. Maybe I thought of a peace pipe. I don’t know, but I really do have Native American blood in me.
He told me he thought I was doing remarkably well, but he might be able to help if I wanted to cut back a little on the wine and stop the nightly cigarette(s). I said okay.
He reassured me that day. That was the best part. He didn’t make me feel sick or weak, broken or damaged. I still remember when I swallowed a little white pill for the first time and felt a huge weight removed from me, knowing that I didn’t have to manage it all on my own anymore. It had been thirty years of self medicating. I was tired and I didn’t even know I had been fighting anxiety and depression.
I heard Todd’s guitar music from downstairs as I read the words again, Do not be afraid. But I am afraid, Lord, I said out loud this time, and then let tears fall onto the paper.
We had a quiet day, Todd and I, even with the game on. Todd’s concern showed on his face and then mine returned too. I laid down on the couch with the pets and eventually dozed.
And then I did what I do, I went for a run. Because that’s what I do. Keep moving, is my motto–as anyone can tell from my work.
Todd sent a note off to my doctor that afternoon and I later heard them talking on the phone. He went with me to an appointment today and told me to stop trying to make the doctor and nurse laugh, and to be serious. I could be honest then. A greater gift he could not have given me.
When we think about our mortality, moments previously wasted become precious.
I don’t know what’s going on, but isn’t there always something going on within all of us? And I am, after all, a woman of a certain age. Things are going to happen. So I’m checking it out and I’m going to take good care of myself.
I guess that’s what I wanted to say today. To offer a reminder to take good care of yourself. Don’t wait, like I did, all those years ago now, to go to the doctor because of pride or shame, or fear. My life changed when I did. I was able to take the focus off myself for once, and begin to ask bigger important questions about life, and discover the beauty in it, around me, and in me which I had missed out on for so many years.
And most importantly, I began to discover how to really love someone and how to let myself be loved. Like I said in my last post, it’s always been about love.