Thursday, December 02, 2010

Diagnosis ... and Healing

Well, today is December 1st, and it is not lost on me that the day I'm starting reverb10 is also the 8th anniversary of the day I became a mother to my beautiful Anna. She taught me how to be a mother, and I'm so thankful she refused to accept anything but the very best I had to offer.

So, if you haven't clicked around yet to learn, reverb10 is a month of prompts designed to get us writing, reflecting on the year that has passed and preparing in a positive way for the year to come. Since it encompasses those things I either want to do more of (writing, reflecting, goal-setting, being positive) or ought to do more of (acknowledging, letting go, moving on), I decided to give it a go, even though there's a Twitter component I don't feel like I have the hang of yet ...

Anyway, today's prompt:

December 1 One Word.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

(Author: Gwen Bell)

I played around today with a few words. Redirection, regrouping, reconstruction, (I've been likening my life lately to a house of cards, so elaborately and carefully constructed but flattened into a meaningless pile by a mere sneeze or loud noise from the other room), rebound ... all of these spoke to the fact that 2010 has been, er, messy, but also that things seem to be turning around, or moving in a more positive direction. I thought about the major events, the news I'd put in a "Christmas letter" if I were the sort of person to send such things (I'm not, though I do enjoy receiving them from people who are), if my boundary issues were socially acceptable (they're not, which is why I'm not a Christmas letter sort of person ... why put up the facade that all is well when really, things are freaking hard and I get to the end of every day filled with both relief that it's over and dread that it's going to start up again in a few hours?).

My word for 2010 is diagnosis. Merriam-Webster states my Word of the Year as follows:

3. a: investigation or analysis of the cause or nature of a condition, situation, or problem

b: a statement or conclusion from such an analysis

Diagnosis speaks to my 2010 on many levels. There is the literal one, the moment in late August when, after years of suffering from debilitating fatigue, rashes that made my body feel like it was on fire, digestive ups, downs, twists, and turns that left me feeling like a competition yo-yo, arthritic aches and pains, and other mysterious afflictions that came and went with no explanation ... a diagnosis: gluten intolerance, perhaps celiac disease. Frankly, I didn't (and still don't) care whether an endoscopic biopsy of my small intestine would reveal damaged villi, it doesn't matter to me that I haven't been tested for the celiac gene. On September 1, I began following a gluten-free diet, and the change in my life has been monumental. My skin is no longer angry, my sleep is sound and refreshing, and I feel, I believe, as a 37-year old mother of three in better-than-average physical condition should feel. In addition to the dietary change, I'm correcting a long-standing vitamin D deficiency, which undoubtedly deserves some credit for my being more vibrant than I've felt in years. Years!

In 2010, there were other conditions, situations, and problems that were cause for investigation or analysis. There was a crisis of my Catholic faith this spring when my daughter received the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion for the first time, and I could either choose to blindly go through the motions of supporting her or put my heart and soul back into Catholicism. I chose the latter, and began voraciously reading the significant papal writings of the last half-century, amazed by their applicability today in my life and for society at large. A situation that continues to require investigation and analysis is that of my 15-year old career as a professional clarinet player in the military; I have diagnosed a loss of purpose, value, and direction in my daily work, which results in feelings of futility and worthlessness. I began to understand the deep regrets I feel about my mothering, as my youngest child began pre-school this fall, I became consumed by the sadness that her baby days are not only over, but I believe I missed most of them -- not only hers, but my older two children's, as well. The discovery of this cancer in my life, the feeling that my motherhood has been less than my children deserve because of my career and that my career has been less than it might have been had I stayed childless opened the door to countless other nagging symptoms that have plagued me for years, and prompted me to stop, look, listen, and breathe.

I began to write this year, because I felt like I was missing life. Writing classes became a soothing balm over my wounded heart and I found myself more aware of my surroundings and my reactions to them. I wrote about the past, so that I could perhaps unlock some more mysteries of the present. It worked. I felt the pain and let myself bleed. I stopped using band-aids and analgesics.

I'm beginning to understand things that before were too difficult to face. And so, I look toward 2011, and the word I've chosen is healing:

2. growing sound; getting well; mending.

I'm learning to take care of my body in ways that never occurred to me before, to respect its limits and honor the wonder of its creation. I'm praying, all the time I'm praying and learning and strengthening my relationship with God, and I'm coming to understand love as I've never known it before. I'm loving on my children, because I can't get back yesterday but I can cherish today. I'm listening to my heart and I'm letting my sadness and frustration motivate me toward a new career, one I can begin when my 20-year military career comes to an end in 2015. I'm writing, because these thoughts I have, these experiences are real, and, while I may remember many of them, I will forget more, unless I stay awake, alert, and present as I must in order to write effectively. I'm growing sound; getting well; mending.

Welcome, 2011. I'm looking forward to healing.

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