Dancing with the tigers

seusstigersIt’s been a while since I posted a wrestling the tigers post. For those who are new to my blog, the tigers are a word I use to describe chronic migraines and other health issues. Wrestling them means different things on different days. This past week it was mostly getting up and going to work, smiling at the adorable 1 1/2 year old I nanny, focusing on loving her and caring for her while drinking coffee and ice water and popping ketaprofin to get myself through the day, and then getting to bed early so I could at least be well rested for the next day.

But in the bigger sense wrestling them means struggling with how to live my life with the limitations the tigers bring. The reason I had a headache all this week is that last Saturday I went for a bike ride and then babysat in the evening. Adding four hours of work to my thirty hour work week, and two hours of moderate exercise in the sun and fresh air does not sound unreasonable. I even rested all day Sunday. But that was not good enough. The migraine had set in, and once I hit the work week there’s not much opportunity to placate it. I just have to push through till I can rest again. So this weekend I am going to try to focus on resting. Even though I really want to go to the gym. I really want to call my friend who is back in the states after two years away. I want to look into the local library’s program of teaching English as a second language in the evenings. I want to look into the program of spending time with children whose families are homeless. I want to DO something with my life.

In many ways the limitations have been good teachers. I really do consider it a blessing to have been forced to learn centering prayer (when other kinds of prayer stopped “working”), to have learned to sit still and breathe deep, to have discovered yoga when my feet and back made running impractical. To let go of all the various forms of ministry I’d been involved in — even to let go of Sunday morning church, at least for now — and to allow space to listen for God’s direction instead of chasing after what I thought it might be.

141031-135509But, still, it’s really frustrating sometimes not to be able to just go out and do things. Yesterday I got dressed up as a cat to do school pick-ups for the kids I watch on Fridays. Jamaica Plain turns into a giant party Halloween evening. And there was something so energizing about being a part of a community, wearing the sign of belonging on my face, the kids and parents smiling at me and I at them. I wanted the day to continue into evening, to walk around and smile at more people, to enjoy the fun. But when the parents let me go early so they could take their kids trick or treating, the headache bore down on me and it was all I could do to limp home, stopping briefly at a place near my house to pick up dinner.

Waiting at the restaurant for my order to be ready I felt a little sad and discouraged. I still wore my costume but it felt like a waste. The person who took my order didn’t smile at me. He was a little rude, actually. I felt far away from the party. Then two little girls came in with their mom. The girls saw me and their faces lit up. I smiled at them. Somehow that felt like a blessing. Two more smiles before I had to head home. Somehow that felt like enough for the day.

Today is Saturday and I am resting. This is another kind of wrestling. The tiger is here, resting next to me, on top of me, pinning me down. But I made it through the week. And rest is also a blessing. So I will change the metaphor a little. I will embrace the tiger, even as we struggle. I will see if I can turn the wrestling match into a kind of a dance.

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