My last published post, following the Pisces Full Moon, saw me attempting to honour something I didn’t really understand… I have been trying to remain open to the messages that emerge from my recent trip to my own inner swamplands… while too aiming for reverence, knowing that some things are shrouded in mystery for a reason and they will be illuminated for our conscious mind in due course, or not.
The things I share here come from my own experience and I am aware that they may not make sense for everyone, (or anyone!) but I must simply be true to myself and the part of me through which these insights come.
So in line with my own personal journey, I have deepened my understanding of that which was completely unknown to me a few short months ago, except perhaps in an abstract sense…
A day or two ahead of last month’s Aries Full Moon I had allowed myself to become so depleted that I found myself in hospital, first in the emergency department and then in intensive care (ICU), followed by a couple of days on the medical ward. At four months pregnant I had been caring for two young kids and keeping our house functional while my partner worked hard at his job six long days each week. After being hit by numerous bugs over the winter months, my immune system was shot; I had reached my limit and my body signalled as much with a heart rate over 150 and severe shortness of breath.
My few days in hospital I was visited by 13 doctors. Most of them had little to no capacity to hear, but there were some exceptions. I believed that I had simply run myself down to the point of exhaustion, and that my symptoms would subside given adequate time and rest, but the biomedical concern was that I had a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in my lung) and they had to run many tests to exclude this. In the meantime, I was afforded respite from my normal life and so able to recover my breath while my heart rate settled to the upper reaches of normal. Once I had undergone the required diagnostics, with no detectable clots, I was allowed to go home.
By the time of my discharge I knew that I had been provided with an opportunity, and that to force a return to my former way of living was a fast-track to readmission. I was being called to make changes: I needed help. For me, admittance of this is no mean feat; while I appear to be easygoing I am in fact quite determined to “cope” no matter what (I have Capricorn on my IC, Saturn in my 12th and an Aquarian South Node), and relinquishment of my stubborn control-freakery is quite challenging. My family rallied to my aid and took turns running my household while I remained bed-bound for a couple of weeks.
Now that I have recovered significantly, the support of loved ones has become less pressing, but it is still evident that my inadvertent overdoing it (by walking the short distance to a neighbourhood friend’s place on an irresistibly sunny day) results in the proverbial two steps back. So I must remain vigilant, and for at least so long as Mars dwells in my 12th house (until the end of November) my official position is surrender. It is not easy, for me or those who come to help, as I am no longer confined to my bed and so instead I repeatedly interfere with their best efforts at bolstering my convalescence.
I am trying to use this time of diminished capacity to consciously surrender, to rest, and also to bring to light the messages that seem to be emerging from within. I have improved at being able to accept help (though still not as graciously as I would like), and at asking others to do things for me (with less passive aggression), and also letting go of the guilt at being unable to contribute in ways that I would normally, but there is a long (long long) way to go. I pray for mercy. And that my blessedly enhanced awareness will allow me to be alert to opportunities to delegate appropriately forevermore.
Were it not for my consciously seeking ways to trust my unconscious (following the advice offered by a prophetic hobo in a dream I had earlier this year) I might have not been able to see the many gifts of this unfolding situation. As I was becoming increasingly aware of the value of surrender in the weeks and months before my hospital admission, I was very open to continuing on this path once I was really unwell. It is this state of being open that has allowed me to grow from this experience in ways that are so significant to me.
It has also provided me with a first-hand experience of (admittedly brief and relatively mild) illness to draw upon for reflection. Our culture has developed a pathological tendency to dismiss and reject sickness, and in so doing throws out bathwater and baby alike. The understandable desire for a return to wellness has led to the oversimplification and demonisation of the deeply complex and meaningful process implicit in being unwell.
Truly there are many gifts available to us when we are forced against our will (like Persephone) into the underworld of illness, though these are often obscured by pain, suffering, lethargy, depression as well as the conditioned expectation that we ought to recover and return to “normal” as quickly as possible. Unwellness is an experience that we all encounter at various times in our lives to varying degrees of severity and timespans. In stark contrast to the conscious life that we cultivate in the outside material world, sickness beckons us into a deep dark place within to dwell for a time
to the emergence of truths
we cannot know unless
we are willing to
resign to the requirements
of our own particular ills
I don’t pretend to know what a successful navigation of one’s illness should look like; I think that must be personal and different for us all. But I suspect that, as in myth and fairy tale, the gods don’t expect us to suffer in vain ~ there must be meaning to be found in there somewhere, amid the ghosts ghouls and monsters that haunt us from our own shadowy depths.