The photo above is my going away picnic two years ago when I almost moved away because I was running out of money. I was propped up in that chair because I was unable to stand very long on my own. At the last moment I cancelled my move because I realized the things that helped most in my healing were here! Now two years later, I can stand on my own again, but I'm not ready to leave. I'm not done healing!
Instead of lying on a therapist’s couch, I’m writing this down. Instead of popping a pill, I’m writing this down.
Just now I lost my ability to balance the struggle between my body and my mind. My rent is due on Saturday and I only have half of it so far. I posted on Oakmont Nextdoor and many of my very dear neighbors have come to the rescue, donating things for a garage sale on Friday and Saturday and helping in other ways. But this time it’s just too damned close to the edge. There is a part of me that is being slapped around by reality this morning. It began yesterday afternoon when the air filled with heavy smoke and the sound of low flying planes made our hearts race. For a short time all of us who bore witness to this on Stone Bridge Road started taking inventory of what we would throw into our cars should we be given the signal to leave. That’s when I got the modified version of “you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it!”
I am aware of all the new age, Joseph Campbell, Buddhist mantras for these moments. I have used them wisely to get myself to this point. But this morning they are useless because my body has taken over. I have no choice but to kneel before the toilet. I am not comforted by the fact that I am not alone in this. Analysis of data from the U.S. Census, Centers for Disease Control and the federal court system finds that health care and illness are the leading cause of bankruptcy in America. A recent study at Harvard University found that rents are continually rising while available affordable housing is continuing to fall! It does not make it easier to know that millions of my fellow Americans are one step away from losing their home for the simple fact that everything costs too much! It does not help to tell myself that one door closing means another door will open. It does not help to be “detached” from the material possessions that surround me! Because yesterday, when the trees in the forest were cloaked in thick smoke, I realized that these “things” are my emotional anchor. Right now I need an anchor! These things hold my stories in the same way the keepsakes of a longtime widow hold her stories. Now I understand the widows who refuse to leave their homes as others often judge them for being unreasonable in the face of reality! And I also understand our collective cultural denial of the important role mental heath plays in moments of crisis as well as illness and chronic pain!
Right now staying in my home is what works for me. That is my biggest priority! Every other option seems like a bigger struggle because my spirit leaves my body and my health suffers when I try to walk away from my home. My home is not just a collection of things. It is an expression of who I am. It is an outlet for my creativity. It is my cocoon. It is the most important place where I remember being happy before a long period of struggle. This is not the right moment for me to give it up! That is what my body has made very clear this morning.