As I christen yet another emergency room hospital bed, I’m presented with a menu of thought options.
At the top of the menu is: Victim-hood.
These are the “Why Me Appetizers.”
There’s the “Why Have You Forsaken Me Tears?”
And the, “What Did I Do to Deserve this Body that is Broken, in Pain, and Creating a Chain Reaction of Despair to Every Facet of My Life, Angst?”
Our culture has been serving these as traditional fair for millennia.
I pass on those empty calories and move on.
The middle section of the menu lists: Resentments. They tell me that if I am interested in these I better order soon because resentments are so popular that everyday by 5pm, they usually sell out.
These include standards like, “If you are giving up on me, I am giving up on you.” And the more punishing and aggressive, yet spiced very similarly, “If I can’t control you, then you do not exist in my world.”
I see these ordered a lot.
Sometimes, when the emotionally arrested developed, feel their body is betraying them, they start to betray it first. They overeat, stop moving and threaten suicide whenever they do not feel loved, appreciated, needed, or valued enough. It’s similar to children who threaten to run away when they don’t get their way. It’s basically an adult temper tantrum.
Resentments are sometimes a deadly combination of fear and anger and they can poison the body.
Another common reaction to resentment, is control.
If a person feels betrayed, they might retaliate through control. It becomes a competition of strength and will. They will control every calorie in and every calorie out and every action of yours and theirs as a means of not feeling victimized, as a way of self-defense.
It’s an honorable attempt and certainly takes more work than simply giving up, but in the end, the efforts are largely futile as the act and need to control is likely as much the poison causing their disease as they think it is the cure.
Now, resentments can provide temporary satisfaction but they are impossible to digest, the body just keeps bringing them up. In the end, they tend to cause me more harm than good so I avoid them as much as possible.
There were other options like Surrender & Acceptance, but I’m so full of those I couldn’t possibly absorb anymore than I already have.
I scan the entire menu and nothing looks palatable.
The nurse says to me with a bit of kitsch in his voice, “My personal favorite is Denial. They disguise it like broccoli in lasagna so that you can’t even taste the bitterness of ignorance. It’s very filling. Are you sure I can’t get that for you?”
I smile and try to hide the confetti of bemused judgment falling all around me, as I gently reply, “No, Thank You.”
I bow my head and my eyes fall to the very bottom of the menu.
In small print, I see the word “Grace,” although it’s disguised as Gratuity, as giving thanks.
I choose that.
“I’d like an order of Gratuity please.”
The doctor and nurses look confused.
The doctor says, “We don’t offer Gratuity, it’s something the patients usually offer us.”
I respond with direct eye contact and a quiet confidence, “There’s a first time for everything.”
The nurse, writing this all down, clarifies, “You’d like to offer gratuity even though you didn’t order or accept anything on the thought menu we have provided?”
The state of grace is often a simultaneous offering and acceptance of gratuity.
Their subtext is clear. They are wondering, “Why? How does that serve you?”
I’ve already been told about the lesions on my brain, the evidence of a past stroke, that my body is severely dehydrated from having to move to a warmer climate that my POTS can’t seem to regulate, that I am bleeding internally, that there is no cure for EDS and that their goal is to simply make me comfortable. There is nothing they can do to heal, or save me.
They look resigned. My empathy is picking up that they feel useless. I actually feel a pang for their pang that they can’t soften my pang. This makes me laugh a little, albeit inside. On the outside, I’m calm, as I make the conscious shift from feeling resigned into feeling content. It’s a subtle, but significant shift.
Their training has not prepared them for this exchange.
They give one more feeble attempt at healing via masking and they ask, “Would you like a pain medication?”
I tell them, “No thank you. I manage pain daily, usually without any medication at all, and today is no worse than usual. I’m just incredibly weak, I lean to the right when I try to walk and something has already made me feel drugged, maybe the dehydration. The last thing I want is medication. I’m going to stick with mindfulness for now.”
“But why gratuity?” They ask in unison as they turn to each other and both say, “Jinx!” Who knew a doctor and her nurses could be so entertaining?
My mind is too cloudy to articulate and my vision is too blurry to read anymore. I say, “Please Google the word Grace and tell me what it says.”
The doctor pulls up Wikipedia and reads to me, “Grace as a Verb, ‘Do honor, or credit, [with dignity] to (someone or something) by one’s presence.’
She continues, Grace as a Noun, ‘Elegance, refinement, poise, finesse’”
The nurse chimes in, “ ‘Grace as a virtue, operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses,’”
I breathe deeply.
He continues, “and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation;…”
“Yes!” I tell him, in a weakened stage whisper, of sorts. “When I am grateful for that which I do possess in abundant supply: love, no matter how painful, no matter how confounding the rest of the world or my body might be, my mind can begin to regenerate and remind me of what is important.”
At that moment, my daughter climbed into the hospital bed with me. My husband stood up and put his hand upon my shoulder. I held my daughter close and placed my hand upon my husband’s. I allowed myself to feel the love of my family, and my small circle of loved ones who were only a text and prayer away.
I expanded that love bubble to fill the entire room, then the city, state, country, continent, and whole world. I breathed in the pulse of that expanding love, and as I did, I could feel tiny earthquakes and shifts occurring within. My body was breaking from the mold of limitations into the expansion of possibilities.
I then embraced grace as a verb by offering my presence to myself, to my family, and to the situation. I allowed myself to begin to vibrate with love and the noun of grace, to possess refined poise of gratitude and gratefulness; not for the suffering, pain, discomfort, and fear, all of which will continue to exists in life to varying degrees, for all people, but grateful rather for the love in my life.
These opposites are always coexisting: life and death, good and evil, light and dark. We need not deny one in order to feel the other. We merely need to choose which one we are going to focus on the most, which one are we going to raise (or lower) our frequency to?
I choose love. I’ve always chosen love. I will continue to choose love again and again and again.
A week after the hospital visit, I lay on the mattress on the floor of our new home, still waiting for our furniture to arrive, which won’t be for another 10 days or so, and the pain rushes back.
It’s as if I am in a 136 degree attic in Phoenix, Arizona. A thick weight is sucking the life out of me. I feel my body go limp, my breath become shallow and despair start to hover like a vulture over a dying bird.
I do not panic. I do not rush back to the hospital. I breathe. I use all my physical strength to roll over and gaze into the sleeping face of my daughter. I make a conscious choice to resonate with love instead of fear.
I’ve already been to the hospital. There is nothing they can do but make me comfortable and no place is more comfortable than being where I already am.
I have years now of knowing that these “waves of suffering” will pass. And while they may erode and redefine the shore line in the process, I will continue to survive, until I don’t; and that my friends, is the story of everyone’s life.
Choosing negative thoughts from the menu of life, like fear, victimization, resentment, anger, retaliation, control, etc. does not, has not, and will not serve me. I doubt it serves anyone.
I choose gratuity. I choose the quality of grace. For grace regenerates and imparts strength to endure trials. I choose: love.
In that frequency of love, I gently let go and allow my vibration to rise and for light to enter all the corners of darkness. I breathe in light and love. I breathe out joy and contentment.
I see my daughter smile in her sleep. It’s a mirror; for my face automatically smiles when she smiles. I close my eyes and I imagine her laughter, her sweet voice singing, her happy spirit that hums and whistles through every day and I become filled with gratitude that I am blessed to be loved by a being who is filed with so much love, light, magic, and joy.
This little light of mine, is a contagious disease well spread; I’m going to let it shine.
Fear is a stalker. It is relentless. It will attack you with it’s pals: pain, and despair, when you are at you most vulnerable. When that happens, please hear my voice in your head, “Choose love. Choose gratuity. Choose Grace.”
Grace will trump fear each and every time.
You are not alone.