“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ” -Pema Chodron
Today and for many days before this, I know I have to quit my job. I have been stalling, negotiating with myself, and evading the truth. It’s time for me to let it go. I love my job at the cafe for so many reasons. It has brought me back into the world- spiritually and emotionally. Cafe work gives me a chance to do something that impacts others in a positive way, even in the slightest and most casual manner. I have begun friendships, learned a lot about St Petersburg, and been able to “play normal” to the point of even feeling normal during moments while at work. I feel life beginning to flow, nearly the way it used to, when I’m leaning into a dish pit or listening to someone talk about their day. It’s a beautiful thing to be in an environment where we all share ourselves with a lightness and sincerity that is the nectar of life.
But this cafe job is physically destroying me and making it impossible for me to try to regain energy, or even keep my fatigue and pain at a stable level. Losing this job means a lot to me. Working at the café was the way I had planned to find my way back to the woman I was before getting sick. Before being ill- or if I was truly recovering in a linear way- this job would have helped me thrive. For the record (who cares?), I have worked full-time as a barista, while also working farmers markets, going out drinking every night, going for camping trips, attending college, etc. Anyway, in a different scenario, this cafe job would have opened up endless doors of opportunity and probably also a circle of friends. But I am not the person I was (apparently this fact has to be beaten into my head over and over at a range of costs and severities). I can’t force the things into my life that used to sustain me. Some of these things are actually serving to make my health worse. I know that quitting is the right thing to do, but I hate it. I hate letting people down, upsetting people’s plans, and I hate saying goodbye to something that has brought me joy and the tiniest tastes of my old self, however fleeting. The gig is up.
In retrospect, it was unwise to ever take the coffee-shop job. I am glad I did because it helped with my social anxiety and really restored my absolute enthrallment and love for all people and also introduced me to kind souls who have opened up to me and reminded me that I am still somehow someway an appealing person…. BUT. It is unreasonable for a person with a serious case of CFS to be working in food service, let alone a 6am-1pm shift. Lesson learned. Mourn and move on.
I have to stay centered and focused on recovery though, and cut out anything that is stressing my body or mind. I need to creatively re-imagine who I am under the current rules (as much as I’ve resisted acknowledging them) and do this in a positive and grateful way. Remembering that healing allows us the opportunity to seek out new ways of being, perhaps that we never would have found before.
What can I do with my life the way it is right now? How can I establish a serious routine and stick to it once my job at the café is over? How will I stay social and involved in the lives of other people? Next week, after and during my IGG infusions, I think I really need to just lay-low and rest. Keep a log, read, relax, and meditate. Live very simply, and only begin re-introducing things into my life in a mindful, gradual, cautious way. Everything is temporary and subject to change, so the fact that something helped me in the past, means very little now. I have to experiment with what works now, and try to get a grasp on a broader perspective, where I see what might work now, sustainably.
There is undeniable beauty and strength in clarity. In really seeing things as they are- right here and right now. Looking directly at the thing that is scariest. I am facing the truth of this experience as best I can. The truth is ugly, confusing, and undesirable, but also (so-far) unbending and humungous. Realize: I am not the person I was before. My body and brain have changed, and I’ve called this change ‘Illness’. But maybe I can see it as a dramatic revision- certainly not a revision I drafted approved or even vaguely dreamt of in any moment of my 26 plus years- but a real shift that has happened and appears to have serious staying-power. What does this new version look and feel like? How does it operate? The headline is: I can do less. I can’t plow through a day- set up an agenda and execute it and ignore my body or the weather or the subliminal changes in my environment- and just fire on all cylinders like I used to. I have to stay sensitive and aware. I am physically and intellectually limited and I have to love the limitations and embrace the reality that the world is not my oyster or ashtray or playground. I need to slow down, do very little, and re-imagine who I am and what I do.
I know where suffering comes from. It’s an age-old bit of wisdom that I’ve played with here and there and certainly read about, but never fully understood, until perhaps these days. My suffering comes from desire. I am grasping for the way things used to be, trying to force who I am now back into that old mould that had worked so well for 25 years. But impermanence and change have made themselves known in my life now, and I know to the depths of my being I will never be the sort of person I was before this (I won’t emerge from this the person I was before but with wisdom and neatly-stored lessons-learned, either, that is a fairy-tale). I feel it to the core of my bones, and yet I still- daily- try to hold onto the ideas, visions, and experiences that used to bring me pleasure, fulfillment, and dictate the pace and cadence of my days. I have to let it go. Enough of the struggle. It’s time for a new vision and a new pace. Praying for this perspective.
I need to resign myself to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Keep facing it. How can I meet and begin to change her if I cannot see and accept her? It isn’t submission, it’s clarity. I don’t want to struggle anymore. It is making me sicker. The dichotomy of Now and 10 Months Ago is an illusion that is hurting me. There is an ocean of beautiful grays between Sick and Well, between Before and After, between Langdon and Grace. I now have the opportunity to see my life for what it is and try to be sensitive and focused enough to learn what to pull into my time and what to let go of. All the while, paying attention. Relentless attention. Yes, Sylvia Boorstein, I am able to care. Trying to welcome the next phase. Quitting my job feels like a deep but necessary loss. I will miss working there and also will miss the illusion that I am getting better, that my days are moving me closer and closer to an obvious return to health and a productive, normal 26 year old.
Today I am going to buy a journal to log my symptoms (as tired as I am of thinking about them, it seems to appear in every bit of research I’ve done on recovering from CFS)- lovingingly and with the intention of finding the best way to make a full life. Beyond that? Try to take care of Jezzy, give her an actual walk around the block (hasn’t happened in weeks) and some playtime. Read. Rest. Breathe. Sit with it.
Opera singers warm up their voices in the building next-door. She walks in the alley like a woman, but when she sings, it is as if we are a separate species. What a wonderful world!