Friday, April 4, 2014

What I Learned This Week, or, How Gilligan Got Off That Damned Island

I've been awake for a few hours. It's quiet in my place, save the sound of traffic from a nearby intersection, and the occasional neighbor slamming the door. (HONESTLY with the fucking door slamming.)

One week ago at this time, I was in a recovery room with a team of people surrounding me. I'd been out of surgery for over an hour, but apparently didn't want to breathe. I'm told it would be over an hour and half before I would start to breathe on my own rather than being assisted, and another half-hour before I would decide to join the world again and regain consciousness.

I don't remember anything from those hours, save two separate memories of what most of us would likely call dreams: in each, I sat on a park bench very near the shade of a pink-blossomed tree with a man in a dark, well-tailored suit—the same gentleman in each engagement. Tall and thin, I don't remember his face, other than he was quite handsome, his intelligence obvious, and his demeanor so very, very calming.

We sat and talked. I don't recall what we spoke about in word, nor even theme, but I do know he was my first thought upon waking in that recovery room. My second thought, which I'm told I verbalized with as much force as I could muster, was, "would you stop YELLING my fucking name, woman?”  In a strange side note, it turns out that woman was a cute little blonde thing who bears an uncanny resemblance to my surgeon friend,  Kourtney—who does not practice in Fargo—which set off some internal and short-lived confusion regarding who actually had performed the procedure. But I digress.

I've thought quite a bit about that man on the bench. I'm certain it wasn't one long encounter, or dream, but rather two distinct and separate meetings. Try as I may, and meditate as I do, the content of our time together remains a mystery. The only clue I get has twice been a whispered voice: "Pay attention."

So this morning, as I luxuriate in the day that was supposed to be filled with coffees, lunch, a pedicure, long bath, and packing for a season wrap-up celebratory trip out of town this weekend, I instead sit, PJ-clad, reflecting in my favorite recliner. I know, I know: you really thought I was going to tell you I am sitting here paying attention. Uh … no. I am  not. Reflection is my current method of paying attention. (I have yet to really nail down the concept and practice of being present. I'm always two or three steps ahead, trying to guide and control things to get an outcome that seems to work best for the majority of those involved.)

What I notice is that I've spent the last two years repeatedly saying, "I'm the only one who does what I do," at both my job, and in relation to the Tell. Really hammering it in, ya know?

Ah, the martyr. So capable, so willing, so alone. And I've worn this idea as though it were the mantle of truth: my choice, nay—my DUTY—to stride tall and finish in glory, regardless of the toll.  

With this idea, the first four days after surgery should have been a quick and easy recovery (it was laparoscopic, for Pete’s sake) instead saw me holding things up all based on this one idea of aloneness. Steeped in guilt for not being at work, and not getting things done there and for the upcoming season finale, The Tell Off, I worried myself into a pile. When we factor into that the starkly obvious state of living alone, reliant upon friends and family to stop by and feed and help me out of bed for the first few days, my mental state diminished, quickly and succinctly. I wallowed, my friends. I wallowed hard, sinking deeper, all the while delaying physical healing.

What brought me around was evidence. Evidence in the forms of emails, and Facebook messages from people I barely know, just checking in. Calls from those I do know well, insisting I tell them what I needed. And the tipping point: a friend new to me in the here and now, but who my soul recognizes with a swell of love, gently suggesting that all was not lost, but indeed, was free and roaming as it should … and that taking a shower and putting on clean pajamas would feel really good.

I was forced to ask for help, and harder — forced to accept it.

In the last week, my coworkers came together to figure out how to cover things in my absence, and we're now creating ways to make sure that if I fall off the grid again, everything is covered. Hard lessons learned, but in the end, it all comes to the surface so we can clean it, take a good look at it, and make it better.

My tribe closed in and descended, hands extended and hearts open, to get the Tell Off on its way, with or without me. Plans put into place, ideas brought forth and implemented, and soothing confidence in others instilled.

Last night was one of those nights. Five of my friends packed into my living room, clipboards created out of books, passing a fresh bag of marshmallows for sustenance, working every angle of tonight’s show to make sure it was covered, and that all I have to do is show up.

Reflection upon this evidence today reveals the idea of my solitude to be complete, utter, and disgustingly mired in bull shit.

So whaddya know: ‘turns out, I am not alone.

I am, in fact, a part of a community of people, close to me or not, who care. Who are themselves capable. And who are so obviously willing to be there.

Fuck that martyr business. THIS is right where I want to be. Mired in love, laughter and a metric shit-ton of gratitude.


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