I really debated whether or not to make this post; to bring out something so personal. But my journey isn’t just about me. I’m not alone in living with chronic illness, with having multiple life and health challenges, with being a survivor of sorrow and pain. Perhaps what I write will speak to you with whispers of hope or intimations of healing. It is my heartfelt wish that, in sharing our journeys, we can share and support each other in our healings as well.
We may not have the details in common, but the underpinnings of our lives will always have commonalities. We share the human experience and are connected in so many, many ways, both seen and unseen and we are NOT alone. We are never truly alone. Hang on to that thought – embrace it, believe it! You are NOT alone!
One of the outcomes of my dealing with fibro, disabilities, and loss of all income has been a huge grieving process and the brief dissolution of my already shaky self-worth. Overwhelm?? Definite, absolute and mind boggling overwhelm! My tolerance for all things outside of myself telescoped to the extent that being around anything even mildly stimulating – people, conversation or noise, too much input or information – would trigger feelings of being overwhelmed. As though my body and mind were screaming “Enough! Enough already! I’ve already got too much on my plate and I can’t digest any more!”
I’ve always been an introvert, but this is like being the mother ship of introversion! At a time when I most need to feel connected, to feel involved with life, my being seems to experience overwhelm and simply starts to shut down. And that overwhelm translates into disorientation, anxiety, exhaustion, sometimes as panic and often as fibro fog.
All my life I’ve considered myself strong and resilient; I’ve always bounced back. Through childhood, through multiple miscarriages, through divorce, through homelessness and so much more. Like a soap opera heroine, I’ve always triumphed over the dark. Until recently. And I’ve been hard on myself; I’ve judged myself weak and lacking. I questioned and doubted so many things that I believed about myself.
While meeting with a counselor yesterday, I had several “Aha!” moments. The biggest one came about when he asked me how I had dealt with the level of abuse that I’d experienced while growing up. I responded that I often had out of body experiences; that I disconnected from what was happening. And that doing so helped me to survive; helped me to keep my core – my spirit and my heart – safe. And I realized that that is essentially what I’m doing now. The abuse isn’t there, but so much of life is overwhelming, and I’ve brought into play tools that worked for me in the past – that disconnection, the disorientation. Simply having that insight has been profound, allowing me to be compassionate towards, and more gentle with, myself.
I know that there are better tools; there are ways to address all of the things I’m experiencing. The evolution of my life and my spirit require tools that do more than simply allow me to survive. I also need to grow and thrive and continue transforming myself and my life in ways that are meaningful, uplifting and affirming. With 40 or so added years of living, I’m more than ready; more than willing!
I’m discovering that there is a positive side to overwhelm, and how I experience it depends on the focus that I choose. For me, part of the answer has been reconnecting, in new and wonderful ways, with my innate creativity. Collage, altered art and most recently, art journaling; they’ve all played a part. Remembering to “keep it in kindergarten” and not worrying about what others think of what I create, but simply creating for the joy of it!
The connections that I’ve made via my creativity and the warmth, support and encouragement that I’ve received are such tremendous gifts too! Even being gifted with this blog and learning how to be here; remembering how to write, having this special space to connect and communicate is part of the answer. My steps may be small and halting, but how I dearly treasure every one of them, knowing that those steps will become strides.
I’m looking forward to discovering even more tools and techniques to wrap around my soul, to bring more vibrancy, energy and healing into my life. A new adventure; new discoveries; new ways of being. And I’m so very grateful to have you here. Every word, every wish, every interaction, every touch of your humanity, heart and wisdom are wondrous things to me.
That I am still here – and yes, still alive - is testament to the light I’ve found within each of you. This is the kind of overwhelm that I can live with – the gratitude and grace that you engender in me.