Recently my body and soul had a chat. My mind was present but not listening. My body had stern words for my mind. You are not listening, said my body, and so I am going to break my foot. And if that doesn't work, I'm afraid I will have to have flu.
So be it, said my soul, love is all there is.
La la la said my mind with its fingers in its ears.
The love affair continues
It is three months since my husband Alan died. It is nine months since my brother Dominic died, and sixteen months since my mother died. It was my gift to soul midwife each of them, and their unutterably precious gift to me to allow it. To give as much as we each gave to each other as the dying happened has wiped me out to the extent that I have offered myself a year off to make sense of what it all means, and to understand who I am in the process. I am, in other words, pooped. Mentally, physically and emotionally. Spiritually, I am being asked to stand back, consider, and remember that love is all.
Love that goes out to others needs to come back to me too. The greatest lesson now is to acknowledge this, to make a decision to love myself, and to take all the time that is needed to understand what this means.
Love is good. Of its nature it is only good. To love yourself sounds enlightened, but actually doing it feels awkward. It feels self indulgent. To love oneself means doing in a little light narcissism. Loving oneself and not becoming too antisocial looks a bit like this. I will love myself more, I won't let other people get to me. I will accept myself as I am and be kind to myself. Early nights, no more puff pastry, and seeing the good in everyone. And that is it. Having said that, it is enough. We carry on as before. We still don't know who we are, we still don't listen to ourselves and we certainly don't think of giving ourselves time. If I was to say these words to someone else, I would follow through with time, action and intent. If I say them to myself, I simply cannot. Or so I think.
If I am to truly love myself, I need to know who it is that I am loving. I know who I appear to be, I know who I want you all to think I am, but in my quiet moments, who really is Antonia? Have I asked her what she needs? If I say I sit in silence with her, can I hear her if she speaks? Do I listen? Do I care? Who is that person I have made a commitment to love. I am so curious, I think despite all I have been taught to believe, that she may be really something.
If I am to practice love for myself, I must take the time to find what works. I must focus my attention on myself. If I am surprised that instead of being happiest as the centre of a large crowd, I am lost and lonely, then I was wrong about what I thought I liked. Perhaps I feel safer on my own. I didn't know that. Well, I do now, and I am amazed. What else do I not know?
Time and space
My year off is in its fourth month. This is about recovery, finding the way back to myself, understanding where I am in all that has happened. It's very hard to know exactly what it is that I am not doing in order to have time off. There is always so much to do. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so not going into the studio, not painting, not soul midwifing, not writing, not doing AGD or one woman shows creates a space which I willingly, enthusiastically, fill with something else. Bring it on! My mind says, let's keep busy! So time off becomes simply not doing one set of things, and doubling up on all the other things. This is when my body stepped in and threw me down the stairs.
I fell down the stairs early one morning. I knew I had broken something because of the pain. If I lie down for a minute, I thought, and take two paracetamol, I'll be fine. I was taking my grandson to his playgroup that morning, and I couldn't under any circumstances, not do that. So I thought, if I put my boots on, it will contain my badly swollen foot. Excellent. I managed to do that, and spent a difficult day hobbling about. I think I have broken my foot! I said to everyone, Ha ha ha! No one else thought it was funny. I must have looked pitiful as I tried to carry a large one year old around as if I could walk properly. I'm glad she's not my child's Grandma, the other mums must have thought, she's potty.
A week later I went for an X Ray. Of course it was broken. I had spent a week pretending it wasn't and suffering for some obscure reason that I cannot fathom. It was the day that I got the special broken foot boot that my body said, in exasperation, and now it's time for flu.
|Still life with broken foot.|
I thought I was dying. I don't remember having flu before, ever, and so didn't know what it was. I dragged myself to the doctor expecting him to diagnose Ebola, but he simply told me it was flu, to go to bed and stay there for a week.
In bed, in my lovely clean, soft, crisp white bed, I gave in. I sank into the comfort and surrendered. I cannot move, I thought, I cannot think and was aware that this is what I wanted all along. To do nothing, to be still, to be incapacitated. And then I heard my body's message. I have done this for you, it said. Your mind has been in denial, you have been in denial, and now you must stop. And so I did. I let go. I lay there for a week, my foot on a cushion, and slept.
|The sick bed, with treats provided by lovely friends. Managed these biscuits bravely.|
Now, the spaces left by stopping work are still empty. I am looking at time differently. The morning will come, the afternoon will come, and night will fall. If I do nothing, and time goes by, and I watch it go by, it doesn't matter. I sit in my chair at home and think of the things I would like to do in the home. The day will come when they will be done, the day that they are done is just a day, and when the things in the house are completed, there will be another day. Everything that happens is just a moment in time, is over, and time continues. I like sitting with myself, I like seeing how I feel about things. I like the freedom to watch the minutes, the hours, the days go by. My mind can hear my body and vice versa. They like the harmony when they work together, which takes patience, attention and perseverance because my mind loves to go mental so to speak, and create disasters and misconceptions and judgements. And my body likes fried foods and cakes and if it could, it would fry cheese and eat it all day. If allowed to go off on their own, both body and mind will make a nonsense of the other, it takes conscious effort to keep an eye on them both.
|A space to watch the time go by and keep an eye on the mental cheese frying|
What my soul says
Watching all these goings on, my soul makes itself a cup of tea and smiles. All this, it says, is already known. You are learning nothing new, you are simply remembering. Oh you are so good at obscuring things, at complicating things. I am often speaking to you, and because you doubt my simplicity, and because you think that complicated things are more profound and better, you don't listen.
Love is all there is. If you send it out, you must allow it back. Love does not have favourites, it does not judge, and it has no needs. Love simply is, and I am filled with it, for you, and for everyone around you.
My soul stirs its tea and pauses. We are one, you and I, with your body and your mind. I am always here, always watching and always in love with you.
What I say
Happy she's not my child's Grandma. George and I are very happy with our FaceTime chats.
(Thanks to George's Mama Lexi for taking this)