Inviting shadow work to become a part of my practice has led to a tough journey. These last two weeks have demanded much of me and have been trying in various ways: physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Waking up Friday morning, I stretched on the couch as I listened to The Boyfriend get ready for work for the first time in a week. I have been recovering from surgery since Monday, having had my gallbladder removed after experiencing severe abdominal pain late last week. As I slowly stretched my muscles, I began to smile as the noises of the early morning reached my ears and the day began. Before he went to get his coat and breakfast, The Boyfriend offered to help me sit up from my laying position on the couch. Prior to Friday, I had been incapable of getting up from that position on my own, being unable to use my abdominal muscles. I waved him off and told him I would be okay; I wanted to doze a little longer and enjoy the day off before having to head back to my new job on Monday. He bid me goodbye and told me to let him know if I needed him before finishing his last few tasks and heading out.
Independence is something that I have valued highly from a young age. Being able to do things on my own is invaluable to me, but I have become complacent and needy in the last year. With the onset of my deep depression and my heavy anxiety, I found myself leaning heavily on others, most notably The Boyfriend as we now live together. Yesterday, though, as I dozed off after hearing the lock turn, I felt a need to do as much as I could on my own that day. So, as I awoke, I tossed off my blankets and figured out the best way to leverage myself from the couch.
Let me tell you: the abdominal muscles are a hell of a lot more important than you think they are and you use them in so many things.
After several attempts, I finally managed to figure out how to get up with minimal use of my abdomen. Being able to do that simple task on my own, after a week of incompetence, was invigorating. I set about my tasks for the morning before settling down to read for a bit longer.
I’ve spent much of this week reading, actually, getting a jump on my goal for 2014 of 75 books. Currently, I’m at eight novels and one short story, about five books ahead of schedule. (Being laid up for about a week with your nook and two library cards has its benefits.) The mental exercise it has provided, too, has been sorely needed. It has been a long time since I had the chance to sit and read for long periods, novel after novel. But, after five days of doing little else, I opted for sitting down to some time with video games, now that I wouldn’t be interrupting The Boyfriend as he worked from home and helped me around the apartment.
These last two weeks have had its challenges, too. It’s not all pleasantries. A relationship I valued quite dearly appears to have met its end; I won’t go into details, but the effects of that still hurt. I imagine they will for awhile. Last weekend I had a long talk with my father regarding my middle brother’s anxieties. He’s been dealing with much of the same things I have with my OCD and the things he told me scared me. At fourteen, he is almost as bad as I was at twenty-three. Wanting to help, I asked him if I could talk to our dad about it and explain the situation. Over an hour and a half later, I hung up with my dad feeling pleased that he listened (took notes even!) and was willing to do what he could to help my brother. My father surprises me sometimes, especially now as I get older and he challenges the assumptions I have made about him. Growing up, we were never close; I think that was mostly as we were too alike to get along, butting heads on many issues. But as I get older and look back on my years, I recognize the issues my father has had to face in his life, the sacrifices he has made for our family. It helps, too, that we have begun talking more openly to one another. If anything, my anxiety and depression was a blessing in that it brought my father and I closer. He has been making an effort to tell me more often that he loves me and is proud of me and my accomplishments, something I do not recall hearing very often as a child. Writing this, I find myself fighting tears yet with a smile tugging at my lips.
A lot has happened in my life these last two weeks. Although I have not felt my gods’ presences, I can’t help but wonder if they have been leaving breadcrumbs for things to happen. I have found myself feeling stronger and more capable these last two weeks, a little more every day, as I take the reins of my life and hold firm. My confidence has begun to return, too, yet I am able to better recognize my flaws and examine why I do things like lash out when angry. I am growing and I believe my gods have stepped back to let me do this on my own. It is important for me to learn to function without them, as I have leaned heavily on them and their guidance and their help in this last year.
I do not believe they have left forever; or, at least, not all of them. I have felt the quiet silver tinge of the Stag Queen here and there; the bitter gold flavor of Anubis’s presence on my tongue before I fall asleep; the heady scent of pomegranate on my skin that signals Persephone’s attentions. They have not left me, not completely, but I must depend on my own abilities and regain my own strengths without them interfering if I am to grow.