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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Poco a poco

There was a time not long ago, when I was teaching a couple of classes at the university, early-morning seminary, Young Women, and twelve piano students...and I thrived on it. My poor seminary girls heard from me six days a week. I looked forward to the lesson prep, delivery, recitals, grading--everything.

When I was visiting TB, I attended a couple of the classes he was teaching, and the bug bit me again--hard.

Tonight I went to our seminary kick-off fireside and felt the need to teach in that venue again.

But I'm listening to Therapist. He says I need to be more moderate, more practical. Most people don't teach as rabidly as I've done in the past. So I've taken his advice, limited my studio to ten students, turned down teaching contracts at the university, and I won't be teaching seminary. About two months ago I was called to teach in YW again, which is enjoyable and low-stress. I know this is best. A month ago I was barely functioning and I'm still recovering from eighteen months of incredible stress, but I miss teaching. A lot.

At my last visit, Therapist kept saying to take time, build in rest, stop trying to conquer Rome in a day, accept small progress and go slowly for awhile. Then he said, "Sam, I'll be honest, I don't think I would make it through the things you've been through in the past year and a half. I think I'd be residing in a hospital somewhere, trying to figure out which end was up. You're very strong, but you rely on yourself too much, still. Let people, especially your husband and kids, help more. When friends offer a listening ear, take it. Do more things for yourself--take slow walks, call someone you love, read a book, cry sometimes. You're not better yet, even if you feel better."

The funny thing is, if he had said that to me three months ago (and he probably did, I just chose not to listen), I would have had a panic attack just thinking about how to schedule those things into my life. And I would have decided he was crazy--I don't need to do anything like that. Today I keep thinking about things I've done in the past few weeks which have made my heart feel happy:
1. Went running with Jason and Ambrosia (not at the same time). Usually when I visit people I don't invite them to run with me. I like to run for a long time and at my own pace. Fewer than six miles feels like I didn't do anything. But a knee injury sustained in a spectacular fall a couple of months ago has slowed me down considerably. I think Jason and I made it only four miles before my knee stopped enjoying the run and became problematic, and I only ran about three miles with Ambrosia. But there was something about being with other people which brought a new dimension to my run. And Jason and I spent the four mile walk back to his home talking, spending time together. That's not something I do very often.

2. Allowed myself time to do nothing, and invited TB to join me. And he did. We just sat together. Sometimes we talked and laughed, I found that I could touch the skin on his arm and hand without the normal "I'm going to be sick" reaction. And I didn't care that I wasn't entertaining or funny or delightful. It was just nice to be with someone who would allow me to not do anything, and not feel guilty about that. And since that time, my phobia to touch has receded. It's still there. I prefer not to touch skin, shake hands, or sit so closely my arm might brush another person, but I can let those things happen without feeling like I might scream or throw up. It's not pleasant--but neither is it unpleasant.

3. Looked around. I never stopped doing this, after all, it's a part of who I am. But I had stopped seeing with the depth and clarity which I was used to. Those things are back again. If you're with me now, you may have to stop while I watch a bug walk in the dirt, or gaze at a sunset, or exclaim because I smell dill growing in someone's garden, or drink in the beautiful the clouds and the blue sky--because those things are all worth noticing. And if you're in my phone directory, I may send you really awful pictures of the things I see, because if I'm alone, I want to share them. But the funny thing is, now when I see these things, I feel a need to laugh and cry at the same time. It's a little confusing. I'm not sure why I feel this way.

4. Felt hungry. Three times this week I've felt this. It's an odd feeling and it aches a bit. I don't remember feeling really hungry before. Therapist said in order to recognize pain, I need to allow myself to feel it for at least a minute or two, identifying in my mind what is causing the pain and understanding that hurting will not kill me. I've not been successful at that yet, but hunger is a type of pain, I think, and I've been able to feel it and understand it. Interestingly, it doesn't inspire me to eat--quite the opposite. I'm unable to eat until I've been able to suppress the hunger pangs and made them go away, but I think this is temporary. Someday I think I'll be able to feel hunger and then eat just like everyone else.

Poco a poco...little by little...I'm not good at waiting or being patient or letting things go, but I'm doing it anyway.


  1. I really enjoyed running with you. I don't love exercising, but exercising with people is nice, and you are unusually pleasant to run with.

  2. Yay! We should do it again soon. :-)