Archive for September, 2020

Patience – again

September 19, 2020

Quite some time ago, when I was educating myself on Twelve Step programs in the course of learning about addictions, I was told about a phenomenon noted among participants that was too often a contributor to relapse – the emergence of serious health challenges in the months after sobriety was achieved.
“I was never sick when I was using, except for withdrawals when I couldn’t get a new supply.”
“I didn’t have any health problems until after I got sober.”

It never occurred to me that there might be a similar response to retirement and its accompanying cessation of the adrenalin rush which faded with the end of deadline pressures.

Feeling somewhat at sea, unsure how to structure one’s days, seeking a new balance of tasks and relaxation – those were feelings I anticipated or had been alerted to expect, and ones that seemed reasonable. A marked decrease in interpersonal contacts would also be inevitable, given the necessary isolation already in place due to the pandemic. Loss of energy would naturally follow from a drop in adrenalin. I was prepared to avert a parallel mental/emotional sag that could seem misleadingly like depression.

I was not prepared to experience the above referenced upsurge in health issues.

The explanation generally accepted in the Twelve Step situation is that the addict/alcoholic/codependent has been too engaged with the focus of their addiction to care for themselves. Not so different a situation as that of health caregivers who ignore their own needs in the process of tending to their parent or partner ill with cancer, Alzheimer’s or other care-demanding conditions. Once attention returns to the individual, previously ignored symptoms become salient and require attention.

I did not need a day of sick leave in the last 4 years of my employment. I maintained – still do – a regular weekly schedule of health support treatments. I am an appropriate weight, have never smoked, drink very sparingly, and exercise daily. I do not have any “underlying conditions” to make me vulnerable, other than being somewhat up there in years (late 70’s) and having lived through a 5 year period, some 35 years ago, of a bad time with bronchitis. It has not been an issue since, beyond a bit of congestion if I become seriously overtired.

So why, 6 weeks into retirement, free of stress and sleeping well, am I experiencing an upsurge in frequency of ocular migraine headaches and an aggravating bout of bronchitis?

The more rest I get, the less energy I seem to have. Breathing in an unknown contaminant last week apparently triggered the bronchitis (Covid test negative) that now refuses to subside. Yes our air in New Mexico is seriously smoky, downwind from the West Coast fires and that undoubtedly is exacerbating the bronchitis flare up. But why is this lung irritation stubbornly persistent while I am relaxed and rested, when it never did so while I was highly stressed and working 50 plus hour weeks?

Probably the question I should be asking is “what, that I have not yet identified, needs my attention just now?” such that I am being slowed down, held in place, prevented from moving into new activities until I recognize the missing element. At least, that seems to be how illness has played out in my life so far.

Sometimes, when I frame the question, I get the answer promptly. Other times, I get to practice the difficult lesson of patience. This seems to be one of those latter occasions.

I’ll let you know when the insight arrives.

Waking Up

September 14, 2020

The best part of waking up is … was it Folger’s in your cup? Another coffee brand? Don’t remember that detail, only the tune and the ad line, as I wake to another silent morning, alone without anyone present to greet me as I greet the day.
I think that is, for me, the hardest aspect of days alone. Once I am up and going, with tasks to be done and responding to messages and emails, or checking news feeds, I no longer feel so isolated. I have never been one to have music playing in the background and I don’t have TV (hate the blah blah blah background in spaces where the TV is never turned off though not being attended to) but maybe the former will need to change? Might having a musical greeting alter my sense of aloneness?
Guess that is one more “you won’t know until you try it” item on a long list.

I enjoy music, but recognize that my greatest pleasure comes from words – a cleverly written sentence, a challenging crossword puzzle, a lively discussion with a compatible partner, whether over coffee or – as now required – distanced and by text.
There is a qualitative difference between written and spoken words, and I am finding in this enforced aloneness a fatigue with reading that I never thought I’d encounter. I put down my book and play hands of solitaire to “zone out” and let my inner self refocus.
Would it be different with music in the background?

I won’t know until I try it (smiley face).

The Meaning of Alone

September 10, 2020

Alone but not lonely
Lonely even though not alone
Sleeping single in a double bed
No one to talk to
No one who cares
No one trusted enough to share with
No one who will (or can) listen

Free to make one’s one decisions
Empowered to act without waiting for approval or agreement
Challenged to be creative

Look Ma, no hands
Wheeeeee
Crash

I want to hold your hand
I want you to hold me, please
Babies with adequate hygiene and food but not held do suffer and die from the lack of touch
A variant of marasmus

Touch deprived adults may fall into depression, poor health
A may die prematurely

Alone can be content
Lonely cannot

What makes the difference?
Attitude
Faith
Upbringing
Insight
Learning
Choice

All challenges to the Self
That enhance growth

But mostly, I think, that last one
Choice
Think about it.

Frustration

September 10, 2020

Please be advised, I have essays to post

but am unable to use the new format

to my liking and am therefore

not putting up anything until

someone

comes to my rescue.

Specifically I do not like the enforced

double spacing, but find NO guidance

on how to change it.

Consider this my declaration of WAR

against thoughtless, mindless computer

nerds who ignore the needs of older

more traditional writers.


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