One of the ways toward wholeness within my psyche, I have learned for me, my self, and I, is to try to bring together contradictory feelings within me. Sometimes these emotions are quite polarized along with their accompanying thoughts, but when I can hold awareness of my own inner contradictions at the same time I am experiencing meeting a trigger in life, I create the necessary inner friction for a point of change.
My most recent experience of this has been to bridge the questions within myself of whether to stay in a friendship position or move on in order to have more time for myself and my fiery creativity. I seek my own company, I don’t feel terribly lonely when no one else is around, and relationships take a lot of time and commitment. I weigh and measure my love of solitude against aspects of this friendship that I like and enjoy too. It is a relationship that came together more for the spiritual thrust to grow and evolve than to retreat into ongoing, static comfort zones. It has warmth and funniness and a certain level of stability. I cannot truthfully say with any conviction that these questions within me are resolved, but something happened that thrust me deeply into acting from the feelings in my heart and less from my fiery thought processes.
My friend got very sick recently. I have seen him from near death through the hospital scenario, and he is now home in my care, a position I really do not fit, but I am the one who is in the position to provide the care he needs right now. I have to make choices for another person when I believe in free will. I have to figure out everything that comes with giving round the clock care until he is back on his feet and all the expenses that come with it. We are dealing with the situation with humor, tears, patience and impatience, and in general just muddling through. The medical profession is good at returning the body from a brink of death, but not necessarily so good at humanely handling the details of the aftercare for individuals and their families. Medical professionals are short staffed and this probably also dents into the availability of aftercare. I had hoped for at least a week of rehab, but despite all my conversations with his healthcare team, my friend is at home with me. Fear. Joy. Feeling like a caged bird, but doing the work because he has need of me until…
What the shock of this experience has done, is to bring home to me that I had a choice – a free will choice – between an open heart and a closed one. There simply was no choice in that moment; I knew he was dying and I convinced him to ride with the ambulance. From one choice to another. And among all of this, I am not so unselfish as to give up my self-care or my longing for creative time. Still, I have had to ride out some stormy emotions, and discern where my beliefs need to be changed in order that I can adapt to the circumstances I find myself in. So I have to redefine my concept of freedom.
I think freedom is not in having absolute total time to myself to be a creative dynamo. How uninteresting a person I would be then! Rather freedom seems to live in the in-between moments where I do have the peace and quiet to experience myself just as I am on any given day, and the presence of mind to ride those moments into greater depth of Being – of life force energy – for myself through art, movement, and healing work. Emotions can be tangled things, but a good solid shock can send me deep into those emotions, and the actions that rise forth from those emotions are the truest ones to follow.
In conclusion, because I don’t want to say more to compromise my friend’s privacy, what I have come to from this experience is the awareness that I can expand myself to care a little more deeply for others, yet also that a certain amount of selfish self care is vital in order to find peace of mind within the caring for others that these times demand. I am glad to say that my partner and myself are muddling through mostly with caring and humor, and some disgust at what shocked bodies can throw at us on the road to healing. I know that I am not alone in caring for elders, I am almost one myself, and that my Ancestors have walked this road before me. So I just want to share a simple wisdom for anyone who might be reading this in the similar boat to me: Take time to breathe, then take one step at a time, and another one. Keep lists as things occur to you so you won’t forget when you are stressed. Breathe again, take another step, vent if you need to. Somehow keep going. Another fork in the road may come, but you may find yourself more capable and stronger than you know.