The Division of Self
Today’s Words of Wisdom:
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
The Foda’s Take: Can I really expand on this? As my father, Dobiwan would say: BEAUTIOUS.
Hey there, neighbor! (Admit it- how many of you are now humming the Mr. Roger’s themesong? Would you be mine… would you be mine?!) It’s so good to see you again! So, how’ve you been? Mmm-hmmm? I know, the weather’s been, just, like CRAZY lately, all that flux and such. But Spring is FINALLY here! (At least, so the calendar says.) And this actually brings me to my topic for the day: The Division of Self. AKA what happens when something appears to be one way on the outside and totally different on the inside. Like, say, having freezing temperatures in late March. It’s SUPPOSED to be spring… but if you didn’t have a calendar, would you really know that? (Granted, it is supposed to be getting warmer, but not consistently. Or so Mandalf the amateur meteorologist tells me.)
Sidebar- is it wrong that I expect all men to be able to predict the weather just by looking at the same sky I’m seeing? Yeah, that’s what I thought, too! Totally reasonable.
Anyway, this whole seeming one way on the outside when the reality is actually quite different is one of the most difficult calling cards of living with a chronic illness. You LOOK fine, and you’ve been dealing with it for so long now you’re likely an AMAZING actor, so you truly do SEEM fine. So what do people see when they look at you? One Fine Fellow Earthling! But what do you see when you look in the mirror?
Probably someone totally different.
I once took a class on Expressive Arts in Leadership arenas, and in that class, we had to do a LOT of self expression through any kind of creative media. I wound up drawing a picture of a healthy, smiling girl looking in the mirror. Yet staring back at her from the glass was a drooping, wrinkled old woman. Stark, I know, but that’s how I felt inside. And this is what people with invisible illnesses face EVERY DAY. Very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of us, I know.
So what can you do? Surprisingly, if you’re a caretaker or a friend, sometimes the WORST thing you can do is offer advice. It often comes off condescending instead of caring. (Which, of course, is your real intention. You big doll, you!) Why? Because members of the Invisibility Cloak Club have already thought of whatever you’re advising, I promise you! What we really want? Is someone to validate the EMOTIONAL side of our condition. Now isn’t that easier? I mean, you may not have our illness, but you DO have emotions, yes? You TOTALLY have experience with fear, frustration, doubt, isolation, etc, right?
Well, guess what. That’s how we heal the division of self: Is validating BOTH parts of us. The body that houses us, and the fighting emotional soul inside. Because both are a part of you. Don’t make the same mistake I made for the first three years by thinking of my body as a traitorous womp rat, with my mind/spirit/soul being the “real” me. This only made me hate MYSELF… because I live, after all, in both places. (I know, I know, seems obvious, but I humbly admit it was a part of my subconscious for a long time.)
So today, dear reader, whether you’re sick or strong, happy or sad, Princess Leia or just plain Laid up, I hope you get that validation we all need and know that you are making the right choices. Every time.
Unless they’re wrong.
But probably, they’re totally right.
(You do get that I’m giving inconclusive validation on purpose, right? Okay, good. Kiss, kiss! Oh, no, not you, sir… you get a handshake. ANIMAL.)
(But only the appropriate amount)