It was a diverse week. I only smelled Rob’s pillow once after taking him to the airport to go back to Vandy and then getting home. That was last Sunday. Had colonoscopy prep for the rest of the day. No real food. Cherry Jello somehow did not comfort the ache of saying goodbye one more time. I will not drink Gatorade ever again. And how much colon did they think I had? I am only 5’3″!! Oh I know, I think we all have the same amount of colon, but really.
Colonoscopy on Monday. That wasn’t too bad except the nurse couldn’t get the IV to take. My arm now looks like I have been Sumo wrestling. She didn’t have much compassion for me either as she was digging around in my vein, smiling happily and talking like it was my fault that I had veins that looked great but were really squirrel-y. Met the doctor for the first time right before the procedure. That felt a little odd somehow. He made jokes about having a “crappy job” which sounded as if he had made them lots of times. They were kinda cute and he was probably trying to put me at ease. Said he had thought about being a psychiatrist. Opposite end of the spectrum, and the pun was intended. A little Versed and a successful procedure later, I was home resting, a polyp gone and relieved that I wouldn’t have to do that again for a while.
Nights have been taken up with rehearsals for the play “Rumors” by Neil Simon in which I have been cast as Cookie Kusak. Fun, fun. I haven’t been in a play for several years. The reason? After the last one about six years ago, which involved rehearsals every night for weeks, Rob who was 12 at the time, said “Mom, I really missed you a lot”. That ended that. It just wasn’t that important.
I had auditioned for a musical this past summer. Had absolutely humiliated myself. I am talking complete and utter disgrace. I had tried to learn the song and lyrics in about two days. It wasn’t happening. While singing my audition, I stopped and started over about eleven times. Eleven. Finally, some kind soul in the audience handed me the music. Now I had never auditioned for this director before. He must have thought I was a pathological liar when he looked at my resume. “Sure, she played Desiree in “A Little Night Music” at the University…, sure she did”. I sobbed the whole way home. I didn’t even make the Chorus. Anyway, I decided to get back on the horse and try again. Occasionally I try to follow my own advice. That audition was for the same director who gave me this part. Guess I did a little better. At least I didn’t look like I was developing dementia.
Friday brought an acupuncture session. That is new stuff for me. Whoever said the needles don’t hurt was not telling the truth. They can sting a bit. But I had rotator cuff surgery several months ago that has left me with some strange pains, muscle spasms and I still don’t have full use of my shoulder and arm. Not acceptable! The doctor I am going to is a traditional medical practitioner who learned acupuncture in the 80s. He is hilarious, gentle and seems to know his stuff. I am more than hopeful.
Several other things this week. Concerns with patients. Mothers of family and friends either in hospice or passing away. Other friends dealing with extremely difficult family situations. Responding to readers of NestAche, one of whom was desperate to read about coping with empty nest, another who was discounting empty nest somewhat, saying that it was harder to have adult children stick around with their inherent problems. (Read my responses in “Recent Posts by Others” on NestAcheBlog/Facebook if interested.)
My week of self-care, the questions posed on Facebook, dealing with my own and others’ emotions throughout the week, brought up the question. What really heals NestAche? What heals any kind of grief?
The cliche answers are things like “time” and “perspective”. After twenty-five years of doing therapy, here are the cornerstones of what I believe. Acceptance and proactivity. My patients tire of my saying this I am sure. First, you move out of whatever shame, if any, you have for feeling what you feel. “I shouldn’t be feeling this'”, “I should be over this”, etc. Just accept where you are. Shame leads to paralysis. Through acceptance, not resignation, you can begin the process of change.
Then second, you move. Emotionally, physically, psychologically. Insight is wonderful; understanding something is helpful, but it is action that leads to hopefulness. It is when you see yourself doing something different, or know you are changing the way you feel or changing the words you use to describe something, that you begin to feel hope that you are healing. Like a change from, “it’s killing me that my son has gone away to school” to, “I miss my son, but I am slowly finding other things to get interested in”. Or, “I don’t know how I am going to get through the next few months without seeing my daughter” to, “I don’t know what it’s going to be like to not see my daughter, but I know that both of us will learn something and be okay”. Your words construct your reality. If you say those more positive things, then they lead you to questions, like what do I want to learn? What do I want to get interested in?
Changing your thinking. Changing your choices. Those questions lead to ACTIONS! What is also hopefully noticeable is that those questions move you from a focus on the past to a focus on the present and future, extremely important in avoiding depression. And healing. So a third change, a change of focus.
I will use my poor little audition as an example. I could have said, “I will never get over giving such an awful audition”. That would have paralyzed me. Instead I said, “I gave an awful audition then. I want to confront my fear, try to give a better audition and I will learn something”. Accept my embarrassment. Move through it. Move into the present. Focus on action, on the present and what I can learn in the now. All important in healing.
Healing from NestAche? It is through acceptance and a proactive stance. Moving into the present and future with actions that are about fresh learning, new things or people to become interested in. Growing your life. Everybody just got some free therapy whether you wanted it or not. Not bad.
I was extremely blessed in my life to have a third “grandmother”, a lovely joyous woman named Ethel who was really my paternal grandmother’s cousin. I called her Et. I met her as an adult when she was 84 and I was 24. She lived to be 104 and was fully cognizant until about 102. I learned incredible things from her and pray that I can be like her. Her beloved grandson had died a few months before I came into her life. She did not talk much about it. Both her husband and son had also died tragically years before. She allowed me to become like a granddaughter. She was willing to move into the present and future, even with such loss. She was always curious and interested in everything, wanting to go and do and be involved. I guess she focused on the relationships she had available to her. I wish I had asked her.
So I am moving into the now and into the future. Proactively. I am going to use language that is positive. I am going to ask questions about what I can invite into my life, about what I can become interested in. About how I can care for myself and for others. Colonoscopies, plays, volunteerism, acupuncture, time with my husband and friends both new and old, workshops, writing, playing music, my beloved planks, whatever. What is on your list?
And of course, there will always be enough of me left over for that child of mine. Whenever he remembers to text or call.