In a time known I was married to a mathematician. It was an odd choice for both of us because I still use my fingers to add when having an anxiety attack. I’m sure it was challenging for both of us!
What killed the marriage was not my numerical dyslexia, what murdered it was my chronic illness. He was, in his own words, “all healed out”…and who could blame him? I still am not healed from the illness. Only now, countless decades later, have I finally healed from the loss of love, of that particular love that was offered by him and his family.
Recently a trusted friend told me that I sometimes retreated to a childlike state. Actually I think he said “childish” — if truth be known. It stung me, because he wasn’t suggesting it was a delightful Annie Hall trait of mine. It was an annoying trait of mine. I thought about working hard to correct it, at least in his presence. I thought about the fact I was largely unaware of it. I was however aware that I had been scolded by him.
It made me think about lives lived with illness and disability, with little or no reprieve. It’s made me think about the alternative world I live in which I’ve called the Planet of the Unwell. I turned to Virginia Woolf not because I was thinking about immediate suicide. But because I admire how she continued on for as long as she did when so very ill with depression, in her case. All the feminist correction to the record notwithstanding, I still admire Leonard Woolf for not leaving her, despite his flaws and mistakes.
At some point, if you are never going to be a well person, you’re likely to be scolded. The patience of those around you will fray and they will say hurtful things. You will say rash and intemperate things because you can’t help it, although you try, sometimes you try with all your might.
The holidays are difficult for many or most of us for all sorts of reasons. For the unwell, the sick, the disabled, the holidays are not always deck the halls with boughs of happiness.…if you’re with someone or in a family, you’re likely to want them to be happy and your status makes that challenging. If you’re alone and unlikely to be remembered at the holidays, the isolation of illness becomes an even more predominant reality. I fight the feeling of abandonment, but not very successfully.
I don’t have holiday presents to offer my readers, but I offer Virginia on illness and behavior –
“There is, let us confess it (and illness is the great confessional), a childish outspokenness in illness; things are said, truth blurted out, which the cautious respectability of health conceals.”
Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill, 1947
And by the way, the Stone Sage Lion reminds me that the 333rd of the year is a palindrome — which means something that reads the same backward as forward. Mathematicians tend to like them. Mine did. I think the 333rd day of this difficult year is a warning to me to stop going over and over the hurts I’ve sustained as well as the things I’ve done wrong. The challenge is to move forward to another year …with hope, however guarded. The even more daunting challenge right now is to move through December with some amount of joy and without a clenched jaw and grinding teeth. Stone Sage Lion says if not, I’m likely to turn to stone as well and spend the winter outside with him…on the terrace.
That’s it for us today, the 333rd day of the first year of the second decade of the 21st century!! Stay Warm, in body, mind and heart. Compassion and forgiveness still trump almost any other available gift we have to give another living being.
©Alida Brill 2011