A little PSA
"magic hands" by B1nd1
I have an amazing life. And I am not being sarcastic in the least. I sleep in until I'm ready to wake up every day. I get to spend every day with my older sister and her husband, and their two dogs, who have become my own two little companions. I live in a beautiful city full of new things to explore every day. I have a job that keeps the perfect balance between creativity and hard work. I have my own bedroom full of little knick knacks that remind me of all my loving friends and all the things I love. I have a closet full of clothes which have mostly come to me without buying them, and they remind me of all the ways I have been so lucky and cared for.
There is another way to say all this though. I have a miserable life. I've been nearly housebound by an illness which keeps me in pain and agony 24/7. It's an illness which is so misunderstood by doctors I have an extraordinarily hard time finding support for my condition. My parents could no longer take care of me so I had to move in and be a burden on my sister. I'm unable to work a regular job so I currently have about $20 in my bank account and $100K in debt. I'm completely isolated from all my friends. All of my clothes are hand-me-downs.
The first version of the story is my Truth, though both scenarios are factual. It has been 5 years since June 20, 2006, the day I went surfing with my roommates in Newport Beach and got so ill I never recovered. Part of the reason I never recovered is because I was the kind of person who just kept pushing. I was working a job at an architecture firm, an ice cream store, and attending summer session to finish up my undergraduate degree. When I got sick I continued going to work, knowing I could just push through it. I kept telling myself things like 'people work three jobs and have kids to raise and STILL get through it, I can do this'. Having this attitude instead of listening to my body and my heart is what eventually led to a crash of my entire neuro-immune system. If I wasn't going to listen, my body was going to make me listen. (This was mirrored by my Mother's experience as well: a massive stroke she had in 2005 which ended her lucrative career as a powerful attorney and left her paralyzed on her left side, creating a life long journey of healing for both herself and my dad and the rest of our family.)
Since then I have been on the most important journey of my life. It has been about learning what is really important, how to listen to my heart, and how to not let anybody define who I was or what I could do. Moving from Fine Art, a world full of No's, into the field of Animation, a world full of Yes, was a major turn for me. I definitely got some flack in Grad school from people who did not understand my limitations and thought I was just taking the easy way out. They didn't know how much it killed me that I couldn't take advantage of the same opportunities they had. Today, even though I am not recovering as fast as I thought I would, I am better than ever. My spirit is so bright and my heart is so full. I finally found a clinic whom I've been working with for 9 months on improving my health and it is working greatly. My body looks the best it has in half a decade, and it is probably the healthiest it has been as well. I am surrounded by the love of friends and family who constantly show me their love and kindness in ways I never expect. I am always surprised and delighted.
I know a lot of people who think going on this kind of journey is a process of lowering your standards or learning how to experience disappointment. It is absolutely the opposite. My life now is full of more color and joy and beautiful experiences than I ever had before. My life is now a life of Flow. I used to suffer horribly from anxiety, trapped in my own cartoon jail bars that kept me in fear and a constant state of not-good-enough.
No matter how much some of my peers have, they are sure they are one step away from being a homeless bag lady. I am so much more sensitive now to people's states-of-mind and can see so clearly the bars that people build around themselves. They're standing in the middle of a beautiful garden, building a tomb of worry-stones right around their little bodies and I want so badly to open my heart and offer my hands to help them bring down those walls. All I can say is that I have seen rock bottom, and it isn't really all that bad.
JK Rowling said "Rock Bottom became the foundation upon which I built my life."
Your mind says "You will only succeed if you shed blood and sweat and tears" and your body says "OK we'll do that, as long as you don't mind taking 20 or 30 years off your life."
Either you will come to a point where you will get an "aha" and make an effort to re-balance your life, or life will break you open without your consent.
Let go of your plans. Let go of your expectations. Joseph Campbell said "You must give up the life you had planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you".
This doesn't mean I'm telling you to just sit back and watch your life pass you by, trust me, I've been forced to do enough of that for all of us. What I'm saying is to listen to the YES inside of you and follow that with all your beautiful will and energy. If something in you says NO NO NO NO NO! when you set out to do something, PLEASE LISTEN! Do not shed a tear or drop of blood in the direction of NO!
And about your student loans? Don't worry! We live in a society where a person who has $900,000 in student loans and a mortgage is (somehow) a WAY more responsible American than someone with no debt paying their rent on an apartment every month. Plus even President Obama just finished repaying his loans like last year! It's going to take some time! IT's OKAY!
And finally I'd like to share with you all a little blessing by Elizabeth Lesser:
May you be blessed on your brave search for the truth.
May your soul lead you to pools and rivers and oceans of wine.
May you drink and be intoxicated by love.
May you swim and be strengthened by life.
May you grow bolder and kinder.
May you be grateful.
May your body be charged with health and energy
and your life with Purpose and Passion.
May you know the dignity of mindfulness,
The openness of heartfulness,
the freedom of soulfulness.
May you remember who you are.
May you awaken.
May we all awaken.
The Seeker's Guide by Elizabeth Lesser
Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck
Finding your North Star by Martha Beck
The Art of Happiness with HH the Dalai Lama
Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson