The dark gift of chronic illness, is intimacy.
Again and again we sit eye to eye with pain.
And although we all would have probably chosen an easier path,
we can’t help but acknowledge that we’re becoming warriors,
armed with reserves of strength, humour and patience
we never could have imagined.
Every culture has a myth of a Goddess who descends into the underworld;
In Greece, Persephone goes down each winter
Innana from the Middle East goes down to meet her dark sister
The Innuits have Sedna who sinks to the bottom of the ocean,
to meet the monsters of the deep.
The darkness transforms them.
It’s not the kind of journey you can prepare for,
And it’s certainly not the one any of us would have chosen.
But it’s the one we find ourselves on.
In, in, in. Down, down, down.
Each new symptom, each failed remedy, each wrong diagnosis
Takes us further into the inner shadowy terrain.
Stripping away layer after layer of identity;
The one who has it all together,
The one who knows how to fix it
The socialite, the girlfriend, the capable mother…
Until we find ourselves at the beating heart,
Where pain meets presence…
… and occasionally becomes surrender.
The turning point where the tenacity of our creative spirit,
meets yet another moment of fatigue, another flare-up, a new symptom, and somehow find the willingness to be with it.
This is the intimacy of chronic illness
Nowhere to go, but in.
Into this moment, into the heat of the fiery truth
that now is all we have.
With its pain, its discomfort, its frustration, its uncertainty.
Not as a nice theory or self-help book meme,
But as an actual embodied reality, to live and breathe and somehow trust.
And the good news; the Goddesses always return.
Chronic illness isn’t forever. Although it always feels like it could be.
It’s simply the journey we’re on, and it kneads us like bread.
Into patience, into a face to face, reluctant friendship with
Life’s mysterious paradoxes.
It’s here we practice together.
With the ever-present friend of the body, and it’s healing key – the breath – faithful, always there, anchoring our jangled thoughts,
ready to create a pocket of peace to rest in.
It’s here we practice together, with each other.
As a circle of women who don’t ask if you’ve tried detoxing, or affirmations.
Who don’t try to fix you.
Who can look you in the eye and receive whatever you have to offer that day
Who say they get it and you believe them.
This is the intimacy of chronic illness – it takes us by the hand
And calls us where we would never go by ourselves.
But we don’t have to do it alone.
Are you ready to take your seat in this circle of sisterhood?