What comes out in my writing this Sunday is a slice of my dragons and how they play out in my life.
Last week, I added on two classes that I hadn’t been doing regularly before. I have also been planning a return trip to my old digs to wrap things up there, which has been a process in itself (would have to make a separate post).
What that meant was that by the time I got to Friday, and the social event I had been looking forward to all month, I was completely exhausted, and had to stay home. The exhaustion lasted into Saturday, and I realized that it’s a trigger for me when I feel too tired to go through with social plans because I am exhausted. My exhaustion is like the flu; I need to treat it like I am physically I’ll, which I still have a very hard time accepting. I have to spend a lot of time on the couch, or napping. Just eating and sleeping are about all I can manage. I can’t concentrate on creative projects, or even reading sometimes.
By late Saturday afternoon, I felt cooped in and began craving connection. I reached out to a couple of folks, but got the additional trigger of everyone being busy or also too tired. My Sponsor (CoDA) likes to distinguish between those ‘willing, but not able’ and those ‘able, but not willing’ and in my case, it is actually almost always the former.
I often find myself in this place of craving company, having people to call, but no one being able. After years of this experience, I feel quite daunted by it — a little scarred, really. Like there is something wrong with my life, which there truly is, if I keep repeating this experience over and over again.
I don’t know why. It’s like the timing is all off. When there are opportunities, I am needing time alone to process and rest; when I am ready to go, no one else is. The despair I feel with this pattern is more than I can truly let myself feel at the moment. I have gotten very good at passing the time by myself these days, continuing to justify it by being in recovery from the amount of stress I put myself through before this year. And that is true — the amount of pressure and strain, sustained for so long, is astounding to think of, and that someone — anyone — would have survived it. I don’t think I am even being dramatic, and that’s unusual. All the major and recognized stressors of life were present in mine for over 2 years (career, job, marriage, and living arrangements), so it is understandable that I am experiencing fairly frequent and severe exhaustion.
But it is also part of what I am beginning to call the Gift, which is essentially being more sensitive and living on a deeper level than most. I am beginning to meet others with this gift — many of us being survivors of trauma. Honestly, I’m not sure which comes first: The gift or the trauma, but i don’t tend to care.
Maybe it is part of an explanation of why it is hard for me to make connections. I am different from the status quo, and I always have been. This processing time I need, my ability to become over-stimulated so easily, the detail and depth with which I engage with tasks and relationships, and the creativity that demands to be integrated with it all somehow; the fact that my best functioning hours are between 8PM and 2AM, the amount of time it takes me to wake up and become ready for even the simplest conversation.
Sometimes I feel lazy because I cannot participate and/or accomplish as much as other people; because a 9-5 M-F workweek would kill me (I know this from experience, and I mean this quite literally). And, sometimes I feel like a loser because I do not make friends easily, people who have not been through recovery don’t understand me and think I’m wierd, and because I end up spending a lot of time alone, which is the dragon of all dragons and the subject of this post.
So there is the gift of vibrant (if transient) creativity, intuition and intelligence, and the curse of not fitting in, not being productive in the traditional and generally-acceptable meaning of the word, and of loneliness.
My sponsor asked me in our last meeting how I feel about being gifted. I said I didn’t like it, and that I experienced it as isolating; and both of us looked at each other and knew that this is my work in this life. To live the gift and thrive with it. I realize that calling oneself gifted, or seeing oneself as being ‘special’ is a recognized ‘unhealthy’ core belief in many schools of psychology. As of today, I’m just not sure what to make of this, how to reconcile it with how I feel in the world. I certainly don’t use the word to imply that I am better than anyone else; it does not come from a sense of arrogance, just recognizing that I don’t fit in and that I have talents for things that are harder for the status quo to allot value to.
The questions burning in my heart this evening are how to thrive in the reality of me. How to feel connected and accepted in the world, how to find a sense of belonging, and balance; and if I am not productive in the traditional sense of the word, then how am I productive? What do I produce? What do I contribute to the world, and how do i turn it into a sustainable way of living?
I’ve been entertaining the notion lately that what might be commonly known as an illness may just be a different reality, with value and benefits of its own. What if society found a way of harvesting the value / productivity of this reality, instead of labeling it as a disability? What if all the (however many) millions of people in the world living on disability funding began seeing the value of our “condition” — what if there is a practical purpose in the world for being this way?
A friend of mine who is a long-time recipient of assistance expressed to me recently how she felt like a hypocrite — hating the government and yet being dependent on it. That many people tire of hearing how we get to flit around doing yoga classes and expressive art therapy, and after nearly a decade, and continued symptoms that prevent her from working etc., she felt a growing sense of guilt for all the self-care activities she does. My response in the moment was to consider my own situation (on assistance since May, but not yet long-term disability status):
Im realizing (/rationalizing) that all these things (yoga, voice, movement) serve to open my vessel by generating joy in me. Seeing as how my life was so devoid of this for the last few years, i think i am doing some catch-up work too–remedial joy-making. At any rate, it’s just what I’m meant to do right now. Maybe the Universe works through the system (government subsidy) to support us in generating joy, opening up the universal flow in the world. Maybe we are sent here to do that.
Maybe we are sent here to open the flow of balance, well-being and creativity in the world, to compensate the whole for all the current depravity of the working class; maybe that is our unacknowledged purpose. Maybe things could be different if the common point of view were changed. Maybe if the accepted work week were 25 hours per week instead of 40, the canyon between health and illness would not be so vast, or exist at all; the cost of health care would return to balance with all of us, and disability assistance would cease to be necessary. What if we all found purpose and value.
When I write these things here on my blog, when I create images and words, share my gift of movement, voice and music in an amateur, community-minded setting; make my own journals and crocheted clothing, I feel my sense of purpose and connection return to me, I feel the inspiration to be alive return to me.
That is the truth of now.
- Social Bankruptcy (stevepavlina.com)
- The Gifts of Community (thesadcafecommunity.wordpress.com)
- The “Bright Child” vs. the “Gifted Learner”: What’s the Difference? (my.psychologytoday.com)
- The Road to Discovery (isokenalfa.wordpress.com)