Don’t Abandon Your Self

In the past few weeks I’ve been hearing from a number of people who’ve been going through serious health challenges…or life challenges.  I’ve been going through some health challenges as well and I keep remembering a piece I wrote a few years ago, in a similar time, which kept reminding me to Not Abandon Myself.  I’ve decided to send this piece out this week, in case it helps you or someone you love.

Also: in case you missed the Writing the Prayer of Your Life workbook, I’m sending it out as a free gift again…and you can download it below this article.

I hope you’re well and thriving…and in case you’re not, today, remember to not abandon your self.  Stay connected to love, and know that no matter what is happening, you are worthy of your own love, and you are worthy of Divine Love, and both are available to you at all times.  In order to receive that love, you have to come into the present moment, and that’s the first step through whatever challenge is facing you.

September 2015:   A journal entry
For the past six weeks I’ve been sick, off and on.  Mostly on.  For the past six weeks I’ve also been taking powerful doses of immune strengthening supplements and herbs that usually help me get well.  And, I’ve been doing a daily Chi Qong practice called Iron Body—the best thing, my Chi Qong teacher tells me, for the lungs and lymphatic system.
I did it this morning and felt pretty good for a few hours.  But then I took a walk in the wind that has grown suddenly strong and my throat is sore again.  My lungs hurt.  I want to cry and scream and give up.  I want to lie down.  I have a desk full of unfinished work, including a class to plan for tomorrow morning.
I have no energy. I make a cup of tea.  I wonder how I can be present with this and not give up on myself.
“Loving what is” is  Byron Katie’s instruction.  My version is, “Rest Until You Remember What You Love.”
That’s always the first step when I’m too tired to stand:  remember love.  Remember I am loved, even now, when I have no energy to function, again.
This is so familiar to me, being sick. Too sick to do what I want and need to be doing.
“Good for you,” my friends say, when I call, again, to cancel a dinner plan. “Good for you, for taking care of yourself.”
I refrain from saying, “This is the story of my life, taking care of myself.”
Taking very good care of myself. And still, I’m sick quite a lot.
Is it a failure?
Am I a failure, because I am so sick?
Or is it my life, asking me to love it, just the way it is, fragile immune system and all?
In the words of my own poem: “God’s invitation to let this life be enough.”
It’s always a relief when I feel better.  When I wake up without a sore throat or a low grade fever.    When I have energy to teach the class, and energy left over, when the class is done.
Those days are blessing.  Ease.  Comfort.
And then there are days like this.  I haven’t eaten gluten, or processed food, or sugar or dairy.  I pretty much don’t do those things, have not done those things, for decades.
I eat organic foods.  Lots of vegetables.  I drink very clean water.  I practice Chi Qong daily.
This is all pretty much standard operating procedure in my life.
And, I have Lyme Disease.  Late Stage Lyme Disease.  So, in fact, I do a lot more than this.
And still I’m sick.
So here’s my choice—do I despair?  Or surrender.  To love.  More love.  More more more more more—
An endless supply.
Because I’m so tired and the sickness seems endless.
Because here I am.  This is my body, my life, and it is miraculous, after all I’ve been through, that I am still alive.  And I am still alive.
And quite often sick.
But it’s the despair that threatens me now, more than the sore throat, cough, fever and weariness.
And so, I pray.
With every breath I take.
I sing a song to counter the despair.
I lie down on my back on the floor, on my old oriental rug, and rest my heart on the earth below me.  I ask her to help.
It’s all I know how to do right now.
This is the body I have.
I take this body,
In sickness and health,
To have and to hold,
To love and to cherish,
Till death do us part.

My vow is to love.  My self, first of all, and life itself, as much as I can.
But myself, in sickness or in health, I vow to love.

It would make such a nice story, if it ended with:  one day she woke up and ran marathons, became a rock climber, traveled the world and was never sick again.
But that hasn’t happened, yet.  The happy ending in my story is something else.
And you see, there is a happy ending.  Even though I am still sick, quite a lot of the time.
Because the truth is, sickness was never the enemy.
Sickness is just sickness.
Some of us have more than others.
In a world where toxins are endemic in our air, water, food, it’s amazing that any of us are still upright.
But here we are.  And I’m a sensitive.  A canary sent down to the coal mines, to give warning to those above ground, wondering whether it’s safe to enter the mind. It’s not. Yet here we are.
If I am the canary then I am also the eagle: a person with Lyme who lived with low level carbon monoxide that nearly killed me.
But all that matters for this story to have a happy ending is for me to not abandon myself.
Or to believe that I’ve been abandoned by life.
If I tell that story, to myself, or to you, I’m doomed.
And that would be a real failure.
Because it’s such a lie.
My immune system may be fragile, but my heart is not.  And my own ability to find my way home, to my own heart, in the face of my own despair–in the face of my own inclination to believe that I’ve been, or am being, abandoned —that is what I know about prayer.
That’s my first –and eternal prayer.
The first commandment on the tablet I have written with my life:
Thou shalt not abandon oneself, no matter what.
I am always worthy of love.
The second is:  The body is not wrong in its symptoms.  The body always has something to say.
For all I know, this wind carries high levels of radiation from Fukishima and that’s why I have a sore throat.  Everyone has a sore throat now, my sister tells me.
It’s entirely possible that my body is simply more sensitive to this radiation and so the sore throat that everyone has knocks me down, further.
I’m sick a lot, but I’m also healthy, in lots of ways that count.
Health is a blessing and there are all kinds of things that add up to health.  All kinds of things that health can mean.
The health I value most is the relationship I have with me.  The health of knowing that I am worthy of love, no matter what.
Even now.  When I’m too sick to get out of bed.  I am still worthy of love.  Still worthy of my own love.  And  this is the prayer that matters most.