Too often, we make the mistake of focusing so much on curing ourselves that we become counterproductive and wear ourselves out, making our bodies retaliate and shut down even more. On the other hand, once we do manage to get well, we tend to be just as overly driven with our hearts set on doing anything and everything possible to prove, mostly to our own egos, that we are “good” enough. That we are successful. That we are “somebody” in society. Honestly, after years of laying in bed, how can we not have this urge? If you are anything like me, the thought that you are a “loser” or “lazy” and are doing “nothing” with your life has crossed your mind at some point, or many points, throughout those years. It is understandable, but it is simply not true.
Can you relate to this? If you can, then the part of you observing the fact that you can relate to this is who you are at your core. The real you. The you that is content with simply being, and who never needs to prove anything to anyone. The you that already knows you are somebody because despite external matters, you do in fact still exist. And while we are talking about external matters, that part of you, who you are at your core, will stay the same whether you are bedridden, famous, or anything in between. The only thing affected by these matters, the only thing that will change, will be your ego. And it will always be this way, because your consciousness, your soul, or whatever word you use to describe who you really are at a deep level inside will never cease to exist.
When I hit remission, the first thing I did was move to an entirely different state where I did not know a soul to work at my dream publishing company. I went to live by myself and be independent in every aspect of my life in what was a foreign land to me, one I had never even visited, after not so much as spending a single night alone for years. I went to be all alone and entirely independent, after having a caretaker to depend on 24/7 for the past two years. Was I crazy? Clearly. But more than anything, I was and am human, which is to say my ego got the best of me. With the return of my health came the return of my raging ego.
While sick, I only had so much energy to spare. I was given two choices: use what energy I had to focus on my inner self in order to heal, meaning the complete shedding of my ego, or cling to the identity of being “sick” and thus enhance my ego and venture further away from the possibility of healing.To be fair, I suppose I did not really choose between the two. At some point, I naturally shifted into a state of being stemming from my consciousness rather than my ego. Perhaps it was an inherent instinct to survive, who knows. Either way, one thing is clear: that I did not consciously have to make this choice ended up working against me, because it was not until I healed and had all my energy back that I fully had my ego back and realized its former absence. It had left so effortlessly, without my knowing, and was able to come back in same exact way.
As a result, I fell severely ill within one week of moving and had to call my parents to come get me; because within one week I had gotten so sick again I could not even drive. By the time I got home I could barely walk, read, write, or even have a conversation because my speech and cognitive centers declined so rapidly that I could not understand much of what people were saying, much less formulate even somewhat of an intelligent response. Furthermore, even when I was able to follow what someone saying, I forgot most of it by the time they were finished saying it.
I have spent an embarrassing, but entirely normal and human, amount of time mulling over why this happened, convinced there was some divine “lesson” I was meant to learn from it all. I was stuck on the frequent notion of “everything happens for a reason.” You know, the one we can never prove but cling to when something does not go our way? It has been close to five months since I fell ill again and came back home. Only now, as I write this actually, is the big “lesson” I was supposed to learn becoming clear: there was never a mystical, predetermined lesson laid out by some greater force for me to learn. The only lesson in it all is that after years of unrelenting physical and mental pain, I gave myself no time to rest.
As soon as the pain diminished, my ego took hold and I set out to “make something of myself.” I suddenly forgot about the body that fought tooth and nail to save my life, even when my mind was ready to throw in the towel. I owed, and still owe, my body all the respect in the world for carrying me through such hard times. This fact was easy to recognize when I was in excruciating pain, but with the pain gone, there was suddenly an immense amount of empty space in my head that was not there before. I immediately filled it with endless thoughts, the very act that keep us from feeling the inner aliveness within our bodies.
So, in regards to “everything happens for a reason,” I am going to have to disagree on this one, at least in the sense that some omnipotent force or being caused it to happen (if I am wrong, then I cannot help but argue that such a being is somewhat cruel and toying with our lives, a statement that may or may not piss off many religious people because it shatters the veil of comfort allowing us to be lazy and not take responsibility for our actions when things go wrong). The truth is, my own actions are the reason I fell ill again and lost my dream job in my dream environment and had to move back to my parents at the age of 24. Divine intervention played no role, only physical intervention. I needed to rest and I refused to, leaving my body no option but to shut down in order to get what it needed to survive. It was simply my body’s way of saying:
“For god’s sake Shelley, give it a rest already. Stop worrying about becoming enough and realize you already are enough.”