I missed a week of writing because I ate some champagne foam in a dessert and my body reacted so adversely to it I was sick for a week. In the middle of it all I had both gastric pain and migraine. I broke down and cried for a while because this happened just when I felt like I was gaining some momentum.
There’s some silver lining: I was too sick to visit my regular TCM physician so I had to visit one near my place, and she specialises in female hormonal issues so I’m going to give it a go. Again. She asked if I was frequently tired because my pulse seemed really thin, reaffirming what I already knew from my regular physician. These little things matter to me because my symptoms are mostly invisible to other people and it feels incredibly validating when someone can pick up on them. It has been a lonely journey: having a chronic illness makes you live on a different timeline and rhythm from the rest of the world. Everyone else seems to keep moving, whereas I’m just stopping and starting.
I am beginning – after six long years – to see the benefits of all that stopping and starting. I mean, what is beneficial is also subjective. I’ve been cycling really slowly recently because of my precarious health, and the enjoyment that arises has a sense of dispersive depth. Just today, I got to see otters rolling in the sand, one squirrel, human beings of all sorts of shapes and sizes, even pink flower petals falling onto the pathway as though it is autumn. I stood there with my bicycle for a long while just to see those petals fall.
I remember reading someone’s account of how everything felt so fresh and sharp when his stimuli was severely limited because of a ten-day silent meditation retreat. The feelings I have been feeling lately is obviously nowhere near that, but I have a sense that my body has been developing a different range of sensitivities ever since I left the hustle and bustle of a full-time tech job. I was a person who would never have had the mind space to cycle, much less stand there and admire falling petals.
I guess this is a new phase of my life? Where from time to time I still cry helplessly because of chronic pain and yet in between those times I am somehow growing the capacity to notice and appreciate the small. It took me six years to get to this point, and I think I spent most of it grieving over the loss of my past self, no matter how much her life was dysfunctional and unsustainable. I feel breathless when I see a tech person’s website now – all the projects listed, all the past jobs, all the achievements – things that would make me envious previously, they now make me a little nauseous. I don’t mean nausea in a negative way, but rather as a consequence of being overwhelmed. I definitely do not miss it.
One of the brighter spots last week was that I had finally decided to sign up for a bicycle mechanic course (scheduled in mid-july) after thinking about it for more than a year. I am a little nervous on how I’m going to withstand six full days of training with my body, but it is split into two weeks so I’m crossing my fingers. I have this strange dream of being a volunteer bike mechanic but things always sound romantic and ideal until we actually do it, so we’ll see. I do look forward to working on my own bikes, and some time ago I came across a woman who restores old bikes for a living. That made me envious.
It has been a difficult journey: to truly let go of a previous life and identity. It is still ongoing of course – how does one become immune to an achievement-oriented life after being conditioned to believe in it for multiple decades? But I feel a lot more comfortable with my current self, probably more comfortable than I ever was with my previous self. I feel like the old me was someone who was socially engineered into being, whereas I have let the current me develop somewhat organically. It is difficult to not want to twist myself into a certain way, after all I have been doing this twisting and shaping for so long.