“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”
-Oscar Wilde from The Picture of Dorian Gray
Life has thrown me my fair share of curve balls lately. The most recent has been another bout of unbalanced thyroid hormones. I contracted the flu in December along with a nasty recurring sinus and lung infection that hung on until March. Then the migraines started and exhaustion creeped up on me and before I knew it I’d spent six months doing essentially nothing but going to work, coming home, and climbing into bed like I hadn’t slept a wink in a month.
Tests revealed that my hypothyroidism has once again become unbalanced and they upped my meds, but instead of starting to get better, my symptoms seem to be getting worse. I remind myself that the stronger doses will take time to work and elevate my T3 and T4 levels and it has only been five days.
My entire system is out of whack and I feel like I’ve just been playing at life for half a year…going through the motions…trying to keep it all together and look normal (whatever that is?!). I worry about my job because lack of appropriate thyroid levels turns my brain to jelly and by mid-afternoon each day my mental capacity tanks and it is only force of will that gets me through the last few hours of the work day. Actually, it’s only force of will that gets me to do anything these days. I am exhausted. Spent. Completely devoid of energy. Waking, getting clean and dressed then getting to work absolutely wears me out and that’s after 10 hours of sleep…sometimes more…
All of the things that used to bring me joy just seem like chores now. My home life is falling apart because I can’t keep up with things and the smallest task seems insurmountable. I force myself to do one household thing each work day. On Mondays I gather the garbage and take it out and it takes me all evening because I have to rest in between collecting the trash from the little cans on each floor of the house. Another night I try to wash some dishes. Cooking all but the simplest of meals is beyond me. Thank goodness feeding the cats only requires that I open a few cans and I’ve been using disposable bowls. I do feel guilty about not playing with them as much as I used to and I can tell they miss it.
Still, I managed to hang onto my positive attitude until earlier this week when another symptom of hypothyroidism came crashing down upon me…depression. Usually depression is the first symptom to appear when my thyroid is out of whack, but this time it was a straggler. I want to feel like I’m doing a good job at work. I want to plant my garden. I want to make some art. I want to do more than just work and sleep. When I’m struggling like this I want people to be able to see it as a disability (even if it is eventually managed), but instead it is often assumed that I’m just lazy…that I don’t care…that I’m taking advantage in some way. And that’s untrue. I’m sick and it often takes months to get me back to my own perception of wellness.
Until then I’ll continue to drag myself through the motions and be sad about my inability to find joy in, or even do, the things that used to make me happy. I’m just trying to hold my life together while both my work and home life seem to be falling apart.
It has been a really rough couple of years for me and this past year, with the death of my beloved Midian, has been particularly difficult. Grief is not something that you can put a time limit on or something that you can just wish away and it can be crippling for a time. It has been for me despite how hard I’ve tried to just move on.
I’ve wanted to write about numerous things on this blog in the past year. The first being one of my favorite topics, fat travel, as I’ve taken three trips this year and written about none of them. The first trip was a Carnival cruise that I took about a month and a half before Midian died, but when I came back from the trip, my little guy was so ill that everything else got wiped from my life so that I could be with him and, in the end, be there with him in every way when it came time for him to cross the veil. And after that, there was nothing but crushing grief as I went through the motions of everyday life.
So I never wrote about the Caribbean cruise or the short camping trip in Pennsylvania or my most recent trip up the Danube River through Central Europe.
As Samhain approaches and the veil thins, I’ll place a candle in the window to light Midian’s way and maybe his spectral form will visit me again and he’ll lay his little head in my palm like he used to as I fell asleep at night.
And when the veil thickens again, I’m making myself a promise to come back to this blog and write what I wanted to write over the past year while I’ve been consumed by grief. Because, as Bubbles from The Wire said, “Ain’t no shame in holding onto grief, as long as you make room for other things.”
I stumbled across this in one of my many books when I was trying to survive a difficult week/month/year, hell, a difficult life at this point. It really helped and spoke to quite a few of the things that I’ve been dealing with lately so I thought it needed to be shared.
The Limping Goddess: She-Who-Survives
by Pesha Joyce Gertler, 1983
She limps into the room
bent with the cargo of rape, battering
single-parent mothering and bureaucratic neglect
if she is fat or gay or nonwhite or Jewish
the pains multiply;
she has carried them all.
Her lotus feet have trudged this planet
for aeons; torn tennis shoes tell
how far she’s traveled. She hunches
against the winter wind, her second-hand
coat like a blanket she wraps around
her golden body. Occasionally, she flies
over buildings, lands on tree tops,
is mistaken for a fat bird.
And occasionally, she falls,
intensifying her limp. But make no mistake;
that golden skin was mined in the black earth,
her feet, though limping and calloused,
are the lotus feet of She-Who-Survives.
A broken yet shining forgotten deity
returning, and there are millions
like her, multi-colored, limping
Goddesses returning to lay down our cargo
and reclaim our own.
If you ignore beauty,
you will soon find yourself without it;
but if you invest in beauty,
it will remain with you all the days of your life.
— Frank Lloyd Wright
It is with great sadness that I tell my readers of the passing of my beloved cat Midian on February 28, 2009. He was 13 years, 7 months, and 10 days old when he became so ill that I had to have him put to sleep, on of all days, my 36th birthday. I am thankful that he was vibrant and playful up until just a month or so before his death and he only spent a couple of weeks really feeling ill as both I and his vets did whatever we could to help him to a possible recovery. Finally, it got to a point where his back legs stopped working properly, he could no longer sleep, and he was obviously in pain.
With human beings there is a whole set of rituals for those left behind that are set around saying goodbye and remembering a loved one’s life after their passing. With animals, that system doesn’t exist and if you’re like me, someone who often prefers the company of animals to people, you need a way to remember a pet’s well-lived life and focus on the joys they brought instead of the excruciating pain of their loss.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks telling stories of Midian’s life to my friends and family and digging through old photos of our adventures together. I knew that a part of my grieving process would have to be telling the story of Midian’s life. So I offer this up to you dear readers as a memorial for my friend, provocateur, protector, and ornery one. He is now and will always be truly missed.