Friday, September 28, 2012

Falling through Empty Space

I really don't know why, exactly, I like to ruminate about falling down.  Perhaps it's the huge relief that I didn't die, or something to that effect, that makes me want to prolong the experience by writing about it.  

Anyway, it was about 2 a.m.  Last night.  I woke up with an intense pain in my shoulder (I need another cortisone shot; seeing the doc for that on Monday).  So I get up, thinking I'll take some pain medicine which is in my bathroom, literally one or two steps away from the bed.  I felt kinda dizzy, as I do sometimes.  So I stand there a moment, and, with my eyes trying to see in the dark, I think I see the white wall by the dresser.  It's really close to the bed, so I decide to steady myself by leaning toward it, hand outstretched.

But....NO WALL!!  

It wasn't the wall at all!   My eyes had deceived me.  It was the empty space right by the dresser, i.e., the DOORWAY into the bathroom, 


My feet didn't move.  I just fell head first (torso first, I guess, really)and landed with half of my body in the bathroom and half by the bed where I'd been standing one or two steps away.  KABOOM!!!  

Amazing how fast one hits the ground, especially in the dark.  

I screamed.  Or, I think I screamed.  Perhaps it was just the air leaving my lungs or something.  Katie said she heard something -- and her room is far away.  David was there, with me, so fast that I don't know how he did it!  "Are you OK? Don't try to move.  Are you OK?"

I immediately moved my legs and arms -- I knew nothing was broken.  

I cried a little.  And I think I did my little crazy laughter, like I do after a fall.  Totally nervous release.  "Honey, let me help you," David said, and he wanted to help me up, but that space is so small that I needed to do that myself.  

"What happened?" he said.

"I needed some pain pills for my shoulder.  That's all.  I'm OK.  You go back to bed."   I'm always embarrassed when I fall.  Better to face the fallout feelings (pun intended) by myself.

"You sure?"  "Yes, yes, I'm OK, thanks" I say.  So he goes back to bed.  I try to breathe, manage to take the medicine, turn off the light, and get back into bed, where David holds my hand for a while.  I didn't ask him whether he remembered that I had dreamed of falling just a few hours before this happened.  I had awakened myself with some kind of exclamation, which woke him up.  That dream had come just as we were both falling asleep.  One of those times when I woke up from the dream and thought "Wait.  No, I wasn't even asleep yet."  Weird. Weird. SO Weird.

Anyway, when he turns on his side, not facing me, the breakdown comes, as it always does.  

I cry quietly.  My hands and head start to shake.

That HORRIFYING sense of being totally out of control.  With part of my consciousness knowing I could be really hurt.  Another part wondering when the KABOOM! will get there.  And yet another part TERRIFIED at the knowledge that there's nothing, nothing, nothing I can do.  Pain is coming.  It's unavoidable.

Actually, this time, the pain didn't come until around 4 a.m.  The meds for the shoulder pain apparently hadn't made a dent in this new pain in my upper ribs area.  Oh great, I think.  So I get up and start on the hydrocodone, which at least helps me get to sleep until 6:00 when David gets up.  With his advise, I decide to go ahead to my 8:30 appointment for the Gammuglobulin infusion.  Got that out of the way; spent the rest of the day splayed out in the recliner.  Katie came home around 2:00, which was nice.  David around 6:00.  Nice evening. While we watched the Texas Rangers play, I got quite a bit of work done on my laptop, actually, so that was good.  Sometimes not wanting to make a move has its advantages, I guess.

So, tonight, when I get up in the middle of the night, as I always do, perhaps I'll use the flashlight that I keep on the nightstand.  

Ya think?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Revelations from a birthday card

I had the carpets cleaned this morning.  As they were drying I put back all the little items that I'd stacked on top of desks and tables, including the Memory Box where 18 years ago I stored several items that remind me of my mother.  For some reason this time, I opened the box and looked through it.  Scarves, some of her jewelry, and the bottle of Cover Girl makeup that smells like Noxema (sp?) -- a smell that never fails to bring my mother close to me again.

But today especially it was the two birthday cards she'd sent me that caught my attention.  One was from the year before she died, when I was 38.  Inside the card these words are printed: "Have always felt so proud of you /  Have always loved you dearly / Have always wished you happiness--daily, monthly, yearly / Have always held such hopes for you / And it's so good to see / The very special person / That you've grown up to be. /  Happy Birthday."

And in her handwriting above these words, she had written: "This is true!"

Tears fell.

I cried because I have a new sense of the wasted years in our relationship.  Well, maybe not wasted, but years that were full of conflict when the truth is all I wanted was her love, and all she wanted was to love me.  We couldn't get past the expectations, the different temperments, the harsh words spoken --too late to take them back.

When my sister visited here in July was the first time I really had an inkling of these things.  Susan somehow, brilliantly really, got through to me.  I saw so clearly for the first time in my life  how very much of mom's energy was always directed at me.  I was the one for whom college was paid.  I was the one who got piano lessons, I was the one she kept on and on and on trying to have a relationship with.  So much time and energy she spent on me, and all the time and energy I spent trying to keep her at bay.  God, I couldn't see it.  So utterly blind.

I have some compassion for myself, don't get me wrong.  Psychologically I still think I needed to make the break, cut the apron strings, etc., but oh how I wish I could've done that with a modicum of grace.  Part of it was my involvement with Charlie, who most definitely encouraged me to break with her.  I couldn't see his ulterior motive, his manipulation.   Ugh, it's all so complicated.  I remember my brother making a comment right after Mom died. He said that he and Susan never needed to make the same kind of psychological break with Mom that I did.  At the time, arrogantly, I thought that ALL children need to do that with ALL parents, as if humans are psychological cookie-cutters.

He was right.

Susan's temperment matched Mom's.  They got along so well.  Laughed together all the time.  And Susan was never competitive with did she manage that? ... she never felt jealous of all this energy mom spent on me, or at least it wasn't the kind of jealousy that stayed with her.  Perhaps in all of her struggling with me, Mom taught Susan to love me.

And to forgive me.

I know that in my sister remains the lovely portion of my relationship with my mother.  She lives on in Susan.  All these years -- 18 years since Mom died --- all these years and Susan has continued the struggle, continued reaching out despite our numerous fights, despite my taking her for granted (an ugly kind of violence, really), despite my not listening to her.  She's kept at it, not giving up on me as we shouted our hurt and anger at each other.  But she loved me through it all.  Just like Mom.

This human tendency toward self-deception, blindness.  It's taken me 56 years to see this truth.  I pray that this revelation will keep me from repeating the mistake in my marriage.  I know that I still have unfair expectations of David, expectations arising from the wounds I carry still.  Come to think of it, I still have unfair expectations of myself.  Perhaps that's a clue to this restlessness/ennui I've felt this year.

More to ponder.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

What do you wish seminary had taught you about pastoral care?

Tomorrow is a real day off.  Oh, I'm looking forward to it.  Even though I'll be working on my syllabus for teaching at the seminary in the Spring, it's OK.  I'll enjoy doing that.

Life is at warp-speed again...just want to do too much, I guess.  New classes (lots of them), Taize prayer services, a new theater ministry, social justice movie's endless!

Health seems to be improving finally.  I've had two gammuglobulin infusions, neither of which seemed to do much, but this next time I'll finally be WELL when I get all those new antibodies, so hopefully they'll actually have a chance to keep me well.  That's the gameplan.

I'm teaching the intro the pastoral care class at Brite, January - May, on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8 a.m.  Last time I taught this I used what Andy Lester taught us, but this time I think I'll add more of my own stuff...Wondering how to teach people to care.  Any thoughts out there?  Emphasis on self-knowledge...I definitely want to include a class day on that.  Self-care and some spiritual disciplines for pastors.   Will probably show the film "Ordinary People" again as a way for them to analyze and think through the care they offer.  Ideas? What do you wish seminary taught you about pastoral care?