I must have been no more than nine or ten when I began to understand I had a psychological flaw that would hound me for life. And that if I wanted to be accepted as sane, I would have to keep a sheet over it forever.
I am a closet hypochondriac.
Not the kind who is always running to doctors and has a warehouse full of medicines.
Nope. Just the kind who constantly frets about what is going on with herself physically. Every day, EVERY DAY, there is some new (or old) ache or pain or spot or twinge that has me walking that obsessive tightrope stretched over the pit of paralyzing fear that there is something wrong with me and I’m going to die.
All this goes on inside my head. I cannot, DARE not share it with anyone. Except in a self-deprecating, jokey way when I approach the end of a particularly stressful rope. And even that, only very occasionally.
It’s something that no one really understands about me. I don’t believe that when I walk into a room, people think, “Oh god…here comes that hypochondriac again.” And if they had any idea of how much this crap occupies my mind, that’s exactly what they would think. I have alluded to this issue a couple of times (in ten years!) in this blog, but I don’t believe that it’s part of my internet persona. And, again…it would be, if I wrote about it as often as it is in my mind.
But I can’t. Because I know it’s insanity, and I can’t let it out. Can’t let it get a foothold in my outside-my-head life. I just…deal with it. It’s part of who I am, part of the “me” nobody knows. When you think about it, we all have large parts of our souls that are known to only ourselves. Some of these things we prize and cherish. Some, we keep contained, as if we were sitting on top of Pandora’s box.
So why do I bring this up today?
Because I have spent the entire month of January either direly sick or direly afraid of being sick or getting sicker. Every time I would think I was getting things under control, I’d stumble upon another news story or Facebook entry about someone who was in the hospital, in a medically-induced coma, or had died from the flu. I’m pissed at the media for sensationalizing all this. I’m pissed at myself for letting it get to me. I’m pissed that I let it screw up my vacation. I’m just…PISSED! I’ve had no peace for almost a month. And I have to get it back.
I have to admit, I’m hopeless when it comes to following any routine. This is nowhere more apparent—or more detrimental—than in my spiritual life. People talk about daily prayer or meditation or sacred reading, and I simply cannot relate. Though I’m certain that a day to day spiritual practice would be nothing but beneficial, I just…can’t? Don’t? Won’t? And I have no idea why this is so.
I wrote a couple of years ago about the practice of what I will call “personal smudging” to which I was introduced by a friend back in 2010, at a time when I was in desperate need of a higher level of contact with the Spirit. It’s basically a ritual whereby I light some sage and smudge myself from toe to head as I face each of the four directions. “Spirit of the East, help me find my peace. Spirit of the South, help me know my peace. Spirit of the West, help me guard my peace. Spirit of the North, help me share my peace.” When I do this, I really do feel a peace settle upon me, one that calms my constant fluttering and flailing, one that quiets my fretting mind.
The way I have been feeling this whole month, I should have been smudging every day…or, perhaps if I had performed the ritual even once, I could have snatched myself out of this downward spiral weeks ago. It was as if I had forgotten where I was supposed to go when I’m in need (I do this all the time, have done all my life, and I have no idea why.) But this morning, I suddenly remembered what to do. Desperate and frustrated, I retrieved my sage, matches and crystals from my travel bag (I brought them on vacation but never did use them…) and threw open the window and door in the family room (it is traditional to give the negative energy an escape route once it is smoked out of one’s body.) I lit the sage and performed the ritual…once, twice, and a third time for good measure. With a month’s worth of physical illness and negative energy pent up inside me, perhaps it took that much repetition to produce an effective cleansing.
Toward the end of my ceremony, a soft rain began to fall outside. I turned to watch it, and caught a glimpse of something special. A gift. A message.
I spotted one of the little delicate jewels of my yard—a hummingbird—dipping and splashing in my little glass bird bath out on the deck. Reveling in the rain shower and the fresh bath water. Washing off the dust and grunge of this dry winter month. Just as I was attempting to do with my sage and my smoke.
What was the message? That I had succeeded? That I had indeed cleansed the film of illness and fear from my spirit? That my joy—represented by Hummingbird—was now clean and fresh and released?
I believe so. Desperate for peace, I discovered joy as well. Sent to me personally by the Creator of the Universe. It’s wonderful to be caught up in such an awesome love.