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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An In-My-Body experience

In the first few days immediately following my heart surgery I responded to all the inquirers and well-wishers with "I just don't feel like myself" or something along those lines. Now having had four restful, reflective days to really think about it I realize that that response is completely false. A lot of people talk about having out of body experiences but for the first time that I can remember, I'm having an extended in-my-body experience. For the past four days I've allowed my body to run the show. There are no alarms set and no bedtimes imposed. I've either been nudged awake by the sweet sound of my nieces one floor above me or Lala licking my face. If the whole family is over and I start to feel a wave of fatigue - which are frequent- come on, I just lay down and close my eyes. I don't push myself to be social to the point of exhaustion out of politeness. I'm not allowed to exercise for another 10 days and am too winded to attempt it anyway so my only physical activity has been peaceful walks in my mother's garden. I've abstained from coffee, antihistamine, alcohol, caffeinated tea or anything else that might encourage my body to be more up or down than it feels like being. There are not dozens of clients and colleagues and vendors incessantly hounding me and disrupting my peace because I've removed email and BBM from my blackberry. I'm not even watching anything on TV that is too jarring or depicts New York City so as to remain as calm as possible. I feel like one of those invalids from the Victorian novels who gets shipped off to the seaside to breathe in healing air and recuperate. I think some people experience days or hours like this on a regular basis but I most certainly do not. Typically my days start by no later than 6:00am and end around 9:00pm with little or no option for my body to chime in. I'm naturally a morning person with a job that stretches into the later evening hours at least a few times a week so the only time I am really unscheduled is when I'm asleep. I don't look down on people who sleep in or stay in bed for an entire weekend or don't push themselves to their limits at work but until now, I haven't really given myself that option. I've realized that I've been such a slavedriver to myself that I actually thought I didn't "feel like myself" when I'm not going a mile a minute. "I" had become my itinerary and my obligations and my overachieving. The me who is sleeping 12-16 hours a day and reading or sitting or chatting the remainder of the time is in fact, also me. I've filled my waking hours with reading, family time, bonding with my puppy and meditating. All of these activities are valid and valuable and helping me return to a version of me that is more calm, creative and insightful. I've come up with projects I'd like to complete, books I'd like to read and classes I'd like to take. All while sitting around "doing nothing." Physically I still feel quite weak and at times my breathing is labored and my heartbeat oddly intense. The (hopefully) former me would not allow such things to matter. Tired? Drink some coffee! Already have four meetings in one day and starting to feel anxious about it? Sorry! Now you have two more. Just not feeling like doing anything at all? Too bad- you don't have a choice. This is how we rolled: Me and my internal whip-cracker. In reality though, we all have choices and I am choosing to rest more, read more, think more, create more, feel more, and love more- starting with loving myself more in tangible ways. I believe that I will actually fulfill these promises because this healing experience - which is only just beginning - has already changed the way I view my life and myself in profound ways. And when I say myself, I might be starting to actually know who I am talking about...