Monday, September 5, 2011

"Chapter 2" - Diana's Thoughts/Blocks/Side-tracks

Thoughts from Diana Dyer sent up to the Universe at various times these past two months:

Short Version: "No time, no time!" Skip to the bottom.

Long Version: I love coming home, I love coming home to our new home! I am certain I have already blogged about how much I love living on our farm, now that we finally really moved here in late April. I have a favorite spot on our little gravel road, right after that 4th speed bump when I can see where our garlic has been planted this year. I can see the curve of our driveway, just start to see our house and a bit of our barn. It is my favorite view of the farm. :-) In fact it is the polar opposite view of one that I frequently enjoy posting at the top of this blog, in which I look out over our garlic field to the isolated and small gravel road that comes to our farm.  When coming home, I often slow or stop the car right there just to look and enjoy the happiness that fills me up, from my toes right out through my finger-tips and probably out through my hair (hmm, I wonder if that is what makes my hair so curly?) Just kidding, but it is a delicious feeling.

I feel so much happiness that my body often actually feels 'warm and fuzzy' inside, a common expression but odd to actually feel it, over and over, every day.

So why am I also feeling the exact opposite, a cold pit of sadness in my stomach, often at the same time? No time to figure this out, we have garlic, garlic, and more garlic to dig, bundle, label, haul upstairs, label, label, label, haul downstairs, clean, sort, take to market, braid, label, bag up, put into gift boxes, label, label, label, more braids needed right away, sweep the barn, sweep, sweep, sweep again and again, haul the trimmings to the field or the compost piles, figure out and conduct garlic tastings, etc, etc, etc.

I can understand and make sense of this 'warm fuzzy' feeling, but where or what is this 'pit' stemming from? I have found that I can no longer stand listening to the news. There is so much that is wrong, painful, or sorry, even stupid everywhere. I haven't watched the 'nightly news' on TV for years now, haven't even glanced at CNN or MSNBC for months and months during our chaotic past 6 months, but earlier this summer I also needed to turn off the radio (including NPR). I have stopped even reading the New York Times (including my favorite columnists), I spontaneously bought a new CD of one my favorite fiddlers and listen and re-listen to that in my car now instead of listening to even my favorite NPR talk/interview hosts (I'm sorry, Terry Gross, I'm sorry, Diane Rehm, I have been your loyal fan for years, but right now I cannot even stand listening to either of you). What is going on???

Does this pit in my stomach ever disappear? Pay attention, Diana, pay attention. If I cannot figure out what is causing it, can I figure out what makes it disappear?

Did someone say The Universe is trying to 'get through' to me? I cannot decide if that idea seem preposterous, or if The Universe is already flooding me with these feelings of experiencing happiness and joy (my own and sharing that of others) and this 'pit' that seems related to the enormous and unending amount of sadness and suffering that I see in the world and share.

In any case, it seems that there is so much going on around me that if The Universe would need to get through to find me with something specific, I am not sure it could get through the clutter. Did I say clutter???? that word was just a figure of speech, but what an understatement - there is so much actual clutter in my life that I find I am averting my gaze everywhere nearly all the time. Time, time, time, no time to figure this out, no time to clean up clutter, there is only garlic, garlic, garlic and more garlic to take care of. All the clutter, all the 'to do' everywhere, gets assigned to the "we'll do this in November after the garlic is planted in October" list, which of course is so long that it is creating its own 'clutter'.

I'll repeat my own question, still unanswered. Is there anything that makes this pit in my stomach disappear, anything that completely over-rides this sense of unease, this sense of sadness, this 'heart-ache', even if I cannot really figure out what is causing it? Sigh.............

I do know that every time I think of Kaya, or someone asks where she is, it takes everything in me to hold myself together. I have finally realized that so much of what I do each day is still a continuation of my 'firsts' without her, even though she died in January (I wrote about this on my blog right after she died). She loved just following me around the farm. This summer, she is not here to make sure I am weeding up to her expectations (I love the meditative aspect of weeding alone - I also enjoy the companionship of weeding with a friend, but no weeding got done at all this year), or harvesting enthusiastically under her watchful gaze. She no longer sits at the bottom of the stairs in the barn, gazing wistfully up the stairs into the loft, wondering what is up there and what I do up there. (Her painful hips and back legs kept her from climbing the stairs for the past year of her life so she never saw the upstairs loft in the barn she loved.)

At the same time, even the things that bring me exquisite happiness actually often brings tears, like watching the birds at our bird feeders wondering who is new today, listening for our bluebirds, wondering "what's that?" if I see or hear something that does not immediately register as 'known', cooking for and eating with friends (we've eaten in our dining room twice now with very special friends each time), I think they are tears of happiness, but now I am not so sure.

However, I also am quite aware there is no time for real tears.  A friend died this summer. I have not yet had time to cry for him, such sadness with the loss of a wise man, dying much too young before he could save the world. Two friends are struggling with their own cancer diagnoses. I have not had time to help them. Another very close friend is struggling with her job, her life, and I have not had time to support her, even fully listen to her, to cry with her, just sigh together. I wish she and I still lived close enough that we could can tomatoes together. Another friend has been seriously ill, hospitalized for a month right here in town, and I have not had any time to even send her a card. Two friends have children struggling with cancer diagnoses. I cannot help. Another close friend is still deeply suffering the death of her child to cancer. I cannot help. Even my own extended family has its own sadness that I cannot help.

Here's a big one I almost forgot, maybe because it is so big! I miss my boys, miss them both deeply. With both of them now married, I suppose this really represents a complete closing of one chapter of my life (one I never expected to be alive to experience) and the beginning of a new one, still unwritten.  I heard our young garlic helper tell me three times while we harvested the garlic together that transitions are hard. I am sure he was talking about his own life at this time, but maybe he also saw something about me that I didn't even see myself (no time, no time). The third time he said that, I heard him differently. I wonder if that is when I stopped sleeping (see below)? Don't misunderstand! My boys do not 'need' their mother (thank goodness), and we love our two daughter-in-laws to pieces, just to pieces! :-), and we all talk often and freely on those family cell phone plans, but...........I don't even really know how to close this sentence.

Garlic, garlic, garlic, we have been successful beyond our wildest imaginations and success just keeps coming........Dick likes to call the chaos this success has brought 'the problems of success'. I hope we can keep it as 'controlled chaos', but really I hope we can somehow, sometime soon dig out way out of this chaos. I've read that if you find yourself in a hole, at least stop digging! Hmmm, somehow I feel like I am still using two shovels!

Arghhh, I hate thinking about, even in my sub-conscious, these two upcoming professional obligations I have said 'yes' to. There is no time to adequately prepare (all RDs, at least the good ones, try to 'exceed expectations'). I know I am avoiding reading even what I have gathered together that sits on the floor by my bed. I will enjoy seeing friends at these conferences, but other than that, I will just have to accept that I will not be truly 'prepared' and 'my best' will not be at the level it has been in the past.

Sometime this summer, I stopped sleeping through the night, in fact I feel like I have stopped sleeping at all. I'm not exactly sure when this happened. I do know something very similar happened after finishing my first chemotherapy in 1985. I was so excited that I might have my life back that 1) I did not want to miss anything, not one little thing, by sleeping plus 2) I was planning, planning, planning the rest of my life. :-)

I know I am always planning, planning, planning when awake during the night, either what needs to be done with our garlic today, tomorrow, this season, or the 40 years of projects that my husband and I want to do on our farm now that we are finally here, at last, now that we finally have the other big projects of our two sons' weddings and selling our other home off of our platter (the proverbial plate was too small for all we have been doing non-stop these past 2 years). I cannot tell you how many times I am awake at night just sitting by my bedroom window listening with happiness to the night sounds, looking at the stars, deeply breathing in the outside air, watching the fireflies, and on and on and on. So all this feels 'very familiar'. Truly, it makes me smile. :-)

Yet something is also different when I am awake at night. I feel overwhelmed by feeling both the joy, hope, and happiness in me and the world concurrently with feeling the enormous and unending sadness and suffering in the world. Somehow I feel that The Universe is getting through to me fine, too well in fact, that it is flooding me (or I am tapping into - I am not sure which it is) in a way that I do not fully understand and in a way that I am afraid I cannot continue to juggle.

Am I experiencing 'survivor's guilt'? I know I have felt that in the past, but if so, it must have been in 'clubs or hearts', certainly not what I am feeling now, which in contrast, can only be called 'in spades'.

However, to add to or even compound my sense of unease, my lack of peace, and the complexity of our first full summer on the farm, I have started experiencing mild 'night sweats'. They are not a big deal, but they are new, and I notice subtle changes in my body. I am startled when (at my regular 6 month 'well-baby' check-up with my primary care doctor) my doctor asks if I am experiencing any night sweats (I don't remember her ever asking me that before). I was debating in my own mind whether to even bring up this new (and, repeating here, very mild) symptom, but she asked so I said yes. After a thorough discussion, since I was basically feeling well in spite of these mild night sweats, we decided to 'watch and wait' but I should call right away if anything changed.

That night something was not mild or subtle. But of course we had 500+ things to do the next day..............

To be continued with "Wham-bam!" (the next chapter is not written yet, so it will take another 7-10 days to carve out the time to write it out, so again, thank you to my readers for hanging in there with me and all the thoughtful and supportive comments you have already shared on 'Chapter 1'!)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS RD


Susie W. said...

I feel like that when I don't sleep well, and you haven't been sleeping well for a while. I didn't know there was "survivor's guilty," but I have experienced that too. It is hard when you have so many people that you care about going through difficult times. Take care

Anonymous said...

I cannot thank you enough for being so open and honest. I am a two time cancer survivor, six years for one and almost five years for the second. Am also feeling so stressed out, many friends dying of cancer, etc.. Survivors guilt or is it watching things spinning out of control.
Wondering why I am stressed out, when I am the fortunate one.
Thanks again, for your honesty.

Susanna said...

I can completely relate to the part about Kaya. Our Carla died a few months ago, very suddenly. We've got a new friend at home already and he's very much part of the family, but.... But. I think of her often and the kids I work with talk about her sometimes, too, which always makes me anxious. You never know what kids are going to say! It hits me at unexpected times still, and I suspect it always will.

Diana Dyer said...

Thanks to all for your thoughtful comments. Susanna, I did not know about Carla's death. I am so sorry. I never got to meet her. I'm sure she is now dancing in doggie heaven with Kaya, and they are are having a great time together as 'free-range' dogs, no worries!