Three weeks ago as I lingered between sleep and sub-consciousness, I felt an elephant sitting on my chest. My chest felt tight and breathing was labored. I weathered it for two days, fulfilling many of my day-to-day responsibilities by pushing through. By day three I was down and day four I placed a call to my doctor. The diagnosis, influenza, pain meds would bring some relief, bed rest, a rough weekend coming, but much better by Monday.
I had great plans for Monday, feeling better and resuming normal activity. Monday came but feeling better didn’t. I found myself sluggish and needing many naps. For days I moved from chair to chair resting, and watching things pile up. The days passed but feeling better came very slow.
I have a friend who knows me well and speaks wisdom into me, both affirmation and accountability as needed. I trust her, even when her words challenge me to look deeply into places that require growth.
Our discussion began with the foods we fuel our bodies with. I was honest about my struggle with sometimes making poor food choices that my body won’t digest well and may cause me a midnight meeting with a bucket and the toilet.
Our talk moved to a photo she’d sent me, a woman standing in front of a bull who clearly has something to say. My challenge for the day; “what is the bull saying to the woman?” I assumed he had something to say about her food choices. I had no answers, but we left the discussion with me welcoming the offer to ponder the possible conversation between the two.
The last part of our discussion was her encouragement that I check in with my physician.
As I pushed through my day my pondering centered around food choices. I thought of the little girl who wasn’t sure there would be food for me unless I was in school. I offered understanding to my love of sweet flavors, remembering my self-prepared menu of sugars, bread, butter and coffee. But the adult me has no fear of not having nourishment. Why is the child in me living a struggle with foods. What does she need? Lots of questions, but no answers. Still, I was willing to stay curious about the conversation between the woman and bull.
I took my friend and daughter’s advice and saw my physician. I sat in the room waiting for the doctor to enter, feeling foolish for taking his time and spending unnecessary money. I comforted myself by reasoning at least I could get my annual blood testing, making the doctor visit appropriate.
The doctor’s diagnosis, bronchitis and walking pneumonia. Medication ordered and further rest prescribed.
As I drove home, a serious conversation between the bull and woman began to swirl through my mind. The words were those I had told myself over the past two weeks.
Bull: “Get yourself off the coach and get busy. You’re not sick anymore. You need to get motivated and moving. You’ve rested enough! You don’t need to see the doctor. You are fine!”
Woman: “I hear you. I’m trying. I’ll push myself and get it done. I’ve rested long enough. At least I used the appointment to get the needed blood test.”
As I hear the words, I take ownership that I’m the bull talking to me. And more sobering, I am abusing myself. As a child I hid my illness to keep from further harm and the reality that I wouldn’t be offered care or medicine. That was then. The only person keeping me from seeing the physician now was me.
I’ve been here before. I’ve grown and learned many ways to offer myself kindness and take back power for the inner child and me. And, the wound is vast and there is more opportunity for deeper self-care.
I want the goodness of caring well for myself.
I want the little me and the adult me to both share in the choices made.
As I tuck my to-do list away and snuggle in my jammies and warm, fuzzy blanket, I rerun that conversation with the bull.
It goes something like this.
Woman to Bull: “OMG! Buzz off! Go back where you came from. I don’t need to do anything until my body is healed. I am worthy of rest and self-care. I can make good choices to fuel my body. I am full of goodness!”
Valerie Avery treasures the journey of embracing all God has gifted her with including creating art and beauty using fibers, beads and nature. The bond of 50 years of marriage has created a legacy as mother to 5 and “Grammie” to 20. She is venturing into the world of writing and is grateful for a place to share stories of growth and hope. You can read more here.