Wednesday, October 5, 2011


“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” --Harriet Beecher Stowe

"I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened."
Wilma Rudolph

"Our task, of course, is to transmute the anger that is affliction into the anger that is determination to bring about change. I think, in fact, that one could give that as a definition of revolution."
Barbara Deming

I'm brewing a personal revolution. It's happening in my body.

Today between the first class I taught and the second two, I crawled under the desk in my office, cowering in fear. But I reached for help--I took my phone under the desk with me and called a loving friend who encouraged me. Then, when it was time for class to start, I crawled out from under my desk, and I could feel the muscles in my legs that are building from my running practice--I felt stronger, more aware of my body than I've allowed myself to be in the last few months.

For some reason, when X-man and I split, I turned off my connection to my body. That has not historically been my reaction to romantic heartbreak, but it happened to be this time. At the same time, a part of me--my brain--knew to keep acting as if I lived in a body. I kept feeding myself, I kept up my running practice, I kept doing yoga, I kept breathing. But another part of me wanted out, wanted out of my body, this dangerous place that lands me in emotionally precarious places when I let myself be moved by it and my natural desires.

But today, somehow, I'm deciding, with keen determination, to live, to stop walking on the precipice between life and death and to be here now, where I am, even if it is in sadness, even if I have longing and grief. I can choose to accept and love myself and my life, if even for today.

I didn't want to get out of bed today and it was a running day. I'm still at the beginning stages of my running training, so every training day is necessary. I'm building habit like a muscle. And somehow, to get on the trail when it was blustery, when I wanted to stay in bed, and then, to get to work, when I wanted to call in sick, and then, to get out from under my desk and go teach, when I wanted to stay under my desk staring at the metal underside of it, built in me a new resilience.

My resilience isn't a surprise to people who have known me for some time. I'm a champion survivor. I've survived life-threatening illnesses with grace and persistence. I've found when I face illness, I have the chance to see the generosity of the human race. I've been surrounded by community, and that community went a long way during a tough spell with my illness, in healing me.

These have been dark days. I thought that returning to my teaching routine would bring me back to life, but it has not. It seems that all the old things that used to give me reason and purpose, have fallen away. I don't feel that particular gratification in helping others the way I used to, as a teacher and in the community. It feels instead like I'm trudging through duty. Which is okay. This is okay. It's a kind of discipline, a kind of determination. I'm not giving up. I'm not giving up to staying under the covers, I'm not giving up eating, I'm not giving up taking care of myself, I'm not giving up eking out a day-to-day existence. My dishes are done. My lunch is made for tomorrow's work day. I'm in my pajamas. I'm going to give this body a rest, because it has more to do tomorrow.

Everything inside me is changing. And, as I wrote that sentence, in me was sparked a glimmer of excitement. Anything might happen. The tides are turning, I feel them turning, and I have to keep holding on until the new rolls in.

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