The past few days have been pretty rough for me–I’ve caught whatever creeping crud has been going around. It’s amazing how low your expectations for life become when you’re cramping and running to the bathroom at all hours. I spent much of yesterday curled on the couch, listening to lectures by Alan Watts on YouTube.
It’s a strange thing, being sick while you’re in transition. I mean, if I were employed (like a responsible person ,says the evil inner critic), I’d still have insurance and wouldn’t be worried about if I have to go to the doctor and if she’ll want to run tests and how much that will cost. But if I were employed (like a good little do-bee, the wise inner counsel responds), I would be at work right now, adding stress to my already depleted body, because I have run out of paid time off and couldn’t risk missing the work. Instead of taking care of myself through quiet, rest, and self-care, I’d be making myself sicker with worry and stress and resentment.
So much of what we do as modern Western adults is done in the name of seeking security. If you study the concept of emotional branding, fear is the Number One motivator used to get people to everything from buy toothpaste to work a soul-killing job. Fear is a big money-maker for a lot of people, people who aren’t afraid of exploiting human nature for their own gains.
Kathryn and I recently had a conversation about the similarities between many jobs and abusive partnerships. Both use the same triggers, the same tired old threats and emotional manipulations to keep you in a situation that is ultimately bad for you.
- “You’ll never find another job/lover if you leave here/me.”
- “This job is/I am the best you’re ever going to get.”
- “You won’t survive outside this job/relationship.”
- “You owe the company/me; you were nothing before this job/me.”
- “Look at all the training you’ve received from this job/Look at everything I’ve done for you.”
There are other correlations between the two, like the enforced secrecy, the isolationist tactics, the periodic moments of generosity to distract from the more consistent abuses.
And we do this. We choose this. We dress up and fight for these jobs, these relationships, that treat us so badly and damage us so deeply.
We find ways to survive. We make friends. We form relationships with our coworkers and customers, because that’s who we are as humans. And we make the best of it. We tell ourselves we’re doing it for our future, for our security, in preparation for the Deep Dark What-If’s that lurk around every corner in this terrifying world of ours.
But why? What security is so strong, what safety so guaranteed, that we would trade our health, our dignity, our freedom and self-esteem for just a whiff of it?
Security is an illusion. Security assumes that something is wrong with us, that something is wrong with the world. Security also assumes, conversely, that there is something we can do to fix it.
Watts talks about cycles, and about the different viewpoints we have. He talks about perspective.
What I’m giving myself right now is perspective.
I’m pulling away from the fear and conflict and daily craziness to see the cycles, in hopes that I will gain a greater understanding of who I am and what my place in this cosmos really is. I’m physically uncomfortable right now. That is the immediate perspective. But in the greater perspective, I am free. I am whole. And I am joyful.
Peace to you, my friends.
If you read my earlier post, you know I’ve been in “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mode. Not a space I enjoy inhabiting, but that’s where I am.
In times of high stress and difficulty, self-care is more important than ever. Taking a well-earned nap, spending time with loved ones, getting in that workout that reinvigorates you – these are crucial to surviving the onslaught of modern life.
Too many of us get into a grind mentality when things get stressful. We put on our good little Pilgrim caps and tell ourselves to push through, hang tough, and fight until the bitter end. And if a brutal New England winter is threatening to starve your entire settlement, then yes, this is a great mind-set.
But when your challenge is a job that throws more and more paperwork at you, or a house whose clutter has almost TARDIS-like qualities, a different strategy might better suit your needs.
Sometimes you just have to say no. Sometimes you have to stand firm and cry enough. It doesn’t make you less of a person to draw strong, sensible boundaries against the forces that threaten to take over your time, your energy, and your life. Nobody gets an extra cookie in Heaven for workaholism.
So, take this long weekend, if you’re lucky enough to have one, and give it to yourself. Wrap it up in a bow, and let yourself enjoy it.
The grind will still be there on Tuesday. And hopefully, you’ll be in a better position to face it.
Good night, dear souls. Sweet dreams to you all.
Almost forgot–music to dream by – Nocturne In Eb Major, Op. 9, No. 2 by Frederic Chopin
by Mia Aretha Ben, M.D., All Kids Pediatrics of Opelousas
When my friend, Debbie, asked me to do a few blog posts, I was honored. After all, to me Debbie is a wonderful writer, very creative. So how can I write for her page? Then she tells me I can write on ANYTHING! Girl that is dangerous! I don’t look like Whoopi Goldberg for nothing.
Well here it goes.
When I graduated from high school, I really didn’t know what I was going to do besides go to college. Both my parents were the first in their families to go, there was no way their first child was not going to college. Oh, and I had no choice. I knew I would be going right up the road to Southern University. The hard part was what was I now going to become. Well most folks thought I would be a teacher like my folks. Truth be told, I was just ready to make a dollar at that point. It was 1986, Rap was king, bling bling was fashion before folks even knew the term. I wanted out. Not to use my God given gifts of creativity. That was until I met Stephanie. Stephanie was my suite mate in college. She told me she was majoring in pre med. I thought she was crazy.
Then comes the moment that made me what I am today. I truly love my Alma Mater; and I proudly stand and sing “Oh, Southern, Dear Southern” at every Bayou Classic Football Game like proud alum. However Southern is known for many clerical errors. Gladly this one led me on the right path, as I was introduced to Dr. Alice Ward, the pre-med advisor after my Freshman Biology class was improperly keyed on my schedule. Dr. Ward saw in me the potential for greatness. After 2 hours of conversation., I was placed in the Honors Biology section and my major was now Zoology-Pre-Med! Now upon returning to my room and informing Stephanie of this, I now found out that she thought I was crazy!
So goes the journey of 2 crazy young people. Many nights of dissecting cats, setting fires to Bunsen burners, spilling acid, shelling soybeans, and performing pap smears on rats (another story) produced 2 graduates with degrees, on their way to becoming physicians.
We both were accepted to medical schools; Stephanie to Tulane and I to LSU.
What comes to mind as I fondly remember those nights of hard work, were the times when we said, “Will this be worth it”. We shared stories of people we knew that died because of lack of health care. I recalled many family members who had health problems and lack of knowledge of how to seek adequate care.
Here we were going to be the soldiers that save the world with our medical knowledge. No longer would folks suffer, because we would be there to cure all ills and ease all pain.
Well, here we are 2012. We now have what the world likes to call Obamacare, which has to some folks become as derogatory as the “F” word. We have people who would rather go sit in a crowded emergency room than wait in their doctor’s office. We have people that are privileged to have Medicaid for their children’s care that think that the physicians owe them their rights to privacy. We have parents that feel they can criticize and insult their physician in any way they choose. We have still have physicians that are so burned out, that they have become apathetic. The word is getting out to the best and brightest students because many of them are not becoming physicians. They are opting to becoming nurse practitioners or physician assistants who in some markets are paid the same as M. D.’s The best and the brightest are also opting to avoid healthcare as a choice of career making it easier for the “slackers” to become physicians.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go into medicine for the money, but I didn’t take a vow of poverty. I do hate it when folks think physicians are rolling in dough and live the high life. I am driving a 2002 Toyota Camry and a 1998 Ford Expedition. I owe student loans and taxes and I have to pay for all 3 of my children to attend school, from college to elementary school (that’s another blog).
Can I fix it by myself? If I believed that, I wouldn’t be writing this. One of the problems with healthcare is everyone wants it and no one wants to pay for it. This is a case where the best things in life are not free.
I have heard horror stories about socialized medicine, where if you are 65 and need dialysis you basically need to go home an pick out a funeral home, or the 50 year old lady that had to wait 6 months to get a cat scan to evaluate her ovarian mass which turned out to be cancer and another 6 months to have a surgeon remove the tumor to start chemotherapy because the studies say ovarian cancer has a 50 survival rate so lets see if she lives long enough to start treatment.
There has to be a way to get quality healthcare (with emphasis on quality) without breaking the bank and without the horror stories I have presented. Does anyone really and truly want to give it a go?