A Voiceless Practice; Forced Introspection

I am at the end of a long sickness and recovery from some kind of sweeping virus that turned into strep and then tonsillitis. I am not a person that gets sick a lot, and so when I do, I fight against it tooth and nail. But this time it came from out of nowhere and took me right off my feet, leaving me home, in pain, and barely able to talk.

Above all the other inconveniences that sickness causes, this started the night before Halloween, taking me out of the realm of celebration for my mom’s birthday and for Samhain.

For about seven days, I could not really talk much at all. It hurt when I spoke for more than a word or two, and sometimes I forced it but other times I sat with my thoughts. With school cancelled, ritual cancelled, visits cancelled, etc., I sat alone with just my thoughts.

After some time of this, I began to question a lot of things that fell into place. I began to see that the ancestors were working through this illness, and that the message was in the disabling condition they left me in. I am not saying the ancestors were trying to punish or harm me, I instead feel they were saving me by reminding me that I am mortal and need care. What a thought…. my illness as a blessing or message? Indeed, I think it is.

Those who know me know that I do not normally slow down unless I am made to through illness, stress, time or obligation. My mind runs a few miles a minute and I am always contemplating something. Lately I care so much about my work that it has become harder for me to not take the heartache home with me, leaving me heavy inside. There is no way I would take off seven days from work unless I couldn’t walk, breathe….. or speak. And so they made it so.

I have been thinking through some of the realizations I have gotten over the last week; things I obviously was unable to hear before:

  • My inability to serve will depend on my inability to take care of myself — mind, heart and soul. I am unable to give what I no longer have…..
  • It is not selfish to take some time for myself.
  • Physical health priorities have to be bumped up the list again. Gym, vitamins, and medication have helped me to balance stress in my physical body. While grad school took my extra time away from me, this has to become a priority again.
  • Leaving my work stress at work doesn’t abandon the children I work with. I need that time away to be well for them.
  • Life is today; all my worrying does not change the future. Action changes the future, and I cannot do that if I am not rooted in this very moment.
  • My mother’s birthday brings about such heartache for me, and I forget to celebrate her. Without that conscious reframe, I am carrying an increased amount of grief that my body cannot process along with everything else.
  • My voice is my instrument. It is my stethoscope and my megaphone. In my social work career or as a writer, my voice is to be polished, cared for and used in the more important times. It should not be abused by others, or by me.

 

I am continuing to unpack the insights from my forced introspection, and I plan to go into ritual tomorrow giving thanks to the ancestors for teaching me some lessons I had long ignored.

Our spiritual and emotional growth lessons come from the strangest of situations, if only we are willing to listen and open ourselves to them.


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