sometimes, I wonder if it's just me. I assume it is; maybe that's my only child individualism talking -- I assume everyone else is doing just fine, and I need to suck it up and get on with working, cleaning, writing, caring ...
Like the way I assumed that my sudden panics, the way my chest would constrict and I would dissolve into desperate, sobbing tears throughout my adolescence and early adulthood, was just me being overly dramatic and self-absorbed. And then I found out I had a heart murmur that was causing my sympathetic nervous system to flip out and go into panic mode. I'm okay; it's a pretty low-grade valve issue, one that runs in the family, one that doesn't threaten my life, just my feeling of being able to cope.
Or else, I assume that everyone feels like I do, and I need to stop making the choices that lead to pain -- it's a sign of immaturity and weakness! Like the way I just assume that I'm over-indulging, that people just can't eat salad and something greasy and alcohol at the same meal -- that no one can, and that I'm to blame for the gripping pain and nausea and illness.
Like the way I assume everyone has stomach pain after eating, or some other pain, and I'm just whining. Everyone is tired and emotional. They just deal with it better than I do.
But I'm actually ill. I'm severely anemic. My body is harboring bacteria that are making my stomach hurt, and perhaps even bleed internally. I may have had these little invaders living and thriving in my belly for years. They have been linked to ulcers, gastritis, tension headaches, anemia, anxiety, depression. And if we can get rid of them, and support my system's return to health, maybe the symptoms will go away.
Having answers, like h. pylori and a hemoglobin level of 8.0 and dropping, helps a little. It also raises more questions -- is this to blame for everything? How long has this been going on? Who else is suffering with this? How much slack should I be cutting myself, and how much do I need to just get on with it?
The other question that came to me last night was, "What story do I need to hear to find my way out of this? Where am I right now in the story? What do I need?" When I found these questions in the parking lot of the grocery store, as I loaded my low-fiber foods into the car and shivered a little in the crisp October air, the light seemed to shift a little. Not a lot-- I haven't found the right story yet, and these questions don't have answers yet -- but a little. These are the questions that can lead to healing, when we identify our story, and can begin to find our way through.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.