TODAY IS THE 333rd day of the Year

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






Filed under Community, Compassion, Forgiveness, Friendship, Hope, Inspiration, Life, Love, Memories, Relationships, Seasons

8 Responses to TODAY IS THE 333rd day of the Year

  1. Thank you so much for this, Alida. What a pow­er­ful state­ment from Woolf. Yes, we in the Planet of the Unwell (I love your phrase) have no patience for plat­i­tudes and are more likely to speak the truth. In that way, I like to think that we are liv­ing our lives in a gen­uine and open-hearted manner.

  2. Ill­ness and dis­abil­ity cut through what really ends up amount­ing to “the small stuff” and gets to the “meat” of it all, of life. I find that few who are well and able quite “get” this. Are we wiser or bet­ter? Maybe, maybe not, but our truth is not any less valid, even if it is not always safe to con­fess. I go through blurt­ing phases and silent phases. I still don’t know which I pre­fer! And, love, ah, love. It com­mands both, I suppose.

    • Thanks Laura. For me, still, well, maybe not so much now, I think the desire and the dream was that love would trump the dis­abil­ity of the able ones to under­stand. Like you, I find this usu­ally not the case. Are we wiser? Are we bet­ter humans, prob­a­bly not, but I think we have learned patience. As this is the only life the two of us have expe­ri­enced, our truths have an eerie connection.

  3. Alida … Thank you. I’ve just passed nearly two hours read­ing your blog at Psy­chol­ogy Today and now I’m here … I feel like I’ve just become acquainted with the writ­ten voice of an intel­lec­tual and expe­ri­en­tial cousin :-)

    The expe­ri­ence of long ill­ness / grave injury comes through your words as a uni­ver­sal expe­ri­ence … Your sto­ries are evoca­tive, pow­er­ful vari­a­tions on the human con­di­tion … I mean this in admi­ra­tion when I say that I quickly for­got, while read­ing, that you have a spe­cific autoim­mune ill­ness (some­thing I live with as well). It’s a rare writer who delves so deeply into what we all have in com­mon, while mak­ing such pow­er­ful state­ments about your own expe­ri­ence and learn­ings. Much, much appre­ci­ated … I’m link­ing your blog with mine.

    • fromthisterrace

      What a gift you have given me in your response. I“ve just returned ear­lier from the hos­pi­tal for a chemo infusion…for the infa­mous disease…You have given me a boost, beyond
      what you might know. i will have my friend tomor­row link my blog to yours as well…I was read­ing you for a bit after this mes­sage. With grat­i­tude. The work harder to stay above and beyond dis­ease these days…I’ll try even more in the morn­ing! Thank you.…

  4. Alida, I’ve found that there are few sweeter joys in life than to real­ize that one is being under­stood … Sweet­est relief!

    I brought home today the book that you’ve writ­ten with Michael Lock­shin … There are two copies at my city’s library … I’m going to pur­chase two as well … One for me and one for my physi­cian. I’ve skimmed your book and am going to tuck it away until right after Christ­mas — and then I’m going to dive in :-)

    I’m com­ing up on four years with con­sis­tent ill­ness … and a sense of res­o­lu­tion — an evolv­ing accep­tance — so the tim­ing of encoun­ter­ing your thoughts is a real gift.

    How­ever you cel­e­brate this time of year … I wish you all the joys of Light’s return :-)

    • fromthisterrace

      And the sweet­est joy to be read by another writer who under­stands. Thank you for find­ing me.
      For all the lights that are shared by each liv­ing being now in winter’s quiet cel­e­bra­tions of place, mind, time,
      joys — col­lec­tive and soli­tary.
      Happy hol­i­days to you, new friend.

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