It has been a relief not to be writing, and not to be posting here.
When I began this blog I knew I would have to be careful to make sure it served me, rather than the other way round. I wanted to be doing things (writing, art, explorations of my landscape) because I wanted to be doing them (and then perhaps being inspired to blog about them), rather than doing things specifically for the blog. I wanted it to complement my life, not take it over. (Though that said, having an intention to post something each week did provide me with ongoing creative goals, which was helpful.)
In the end it did take over, in a way, and so I have felt a sense of freedom since pulling back from this space. I have needed a rest.
|Pink swamp heath, Sprengelia incarnata, growing down by the creek|
Several years ago many things changed for me, and my world expanded. I was not ‘well’ by any means, but I had more energy (especially mentally), and I wrote and wrote and wrote. I had so much I needed to say, to express and explore. I went through a real transformation, and learnt how to write stories (not something I ever felt I had a natural aptitude for).
This past year or two, however, I’ve been going through a transformation of a very different sort, questioning many things, reading feminist texts, and trying to figure out where I stand spiritually. It has been uncomfortable and challenging and enlightening/endarkening. Things have fallen apart numerous times, only to be built back up with slightly different forms—though I am not yet at the point where I can fully trust those new forms; nor do I have the energy, at present, to explore them through writing.
|Waratah, Telopea speciosissima|
My health is fragile. I feel worse than I have for years, and I wonder whether my few years of increased activity were a form of forgetting. As Kat Duff has written,
Because the experience of illness is so difficult to accept, communicate, and integrate, it sinks into the mute flesh of our bodies as we recover. In fact, the word “recover” literally means “to cover up again.” We lose that piece of our lives, that corner of truth, in order to reclaim the world we share with others. The experience may be forgotten altogether, or obscured by the workings of memory into the shadows of insignificance, with euphemistic understatements like “It was just a bad dream” or “I had a little trouble with my heart.” It appears that the terrain of the sick, like the underworld in Greek mythology, is surrounded by the waters of forgetfulness. (The Alchemy of Illness, 1993, p. 17)
An increase in my energy—perhaps partly caused by all the new and exciting ideas that were entering my life at that time—caused me to forget what CFS was really like, what it had been like for many years. I embarked upon a period of quite intense activity, sometimes in short bursts, at other times more sustained, and it was the writing I was producing that made me feel much more positive about the curtailed circumstances of my life. Having a chronic illness is clearly not ideal, yet it didn’t seem so bad if I was creating.
Now I’ve emerged out of the waters of forgetfulness, and I remember what CFS is, and the toll it takes. Not only am I incapable of doing the writing I was regularly doing (as my energy is very low, and my cognitive ability with it), but I do not even want to write. The desire to spill out streams of words, and the enjoyment, aliveness and wildness that came with them, is gone. Even sitting outside and watching the birds is not giving me the sense of calm and comfort that it usually does.
This, though, has led to a useful realisation/reminder: All those years when I was not doing much, not achieving anything, seemingly avoiding creative work, were not due to laziness, or my not trying hard enough, but due to my body’s real inability to function (though this does not mean there aren’t other things that might be holding me back too). In my good years (and other isolated moments), with energy available, I was compelled to act—to write, to shamanise, to work on becoming a better person; now, I rarely feel any compulsion to do anything, because my body is struggling so much. And because the body and mind are entwined, working together, what affects my body impacts on my mind, my mood, my ability to think and concentrate (and vice versa).
(It interests me, the connection between mind and body. How, for instance, there is now evidence to suggest that imbalances in the microbiome of the gut are implicated in mood disorders. Thus, our ‘mind’, and the way we think and feel, is not independent of the body, but very much integrated with it, and influenced—even determined, in some sense—by it.)
I didn’t want this blog to be about illness. I wanted it to be about writing, art, creativity, nature, shamanism—my unique journey through life, with illness, if it appeared at all, as merely a background note. But illness has crept up on me, consumed me once more. Everything is difficult, when for a while it was easier, and this is endlessly frustrating.
I do not feel like myself. (I am full of snarls.)
I’ve no doubt that the person I was a few years ago, buoyed by a greatly enlarged imagination and sense of purpose, is still here, somewhere. Yet she has withdrawn for now. Proof, I think, that what we think of as the ‘self’ (mind/consciousness/personality/soul) is completely embedded in our bodily/biological form and functions—and therefore when the body is not functioning well, when it is exhausted, deficient, imbalanced, a new self emerges. Is this a false self? Or merely different? A little of both, perhaps.
Under such circumstances, it’s difficult to be positive, to be inspired, or to want to post here. But, after a couple of weeks of not writing, I felt the need to write this, to explain my absence, my silence. I hope that it will not be long-lasting, and eventually I will have the desire and ability to resume more regular posts. And, blog aside, a return to, if not who I really am, at least who I want to be, with a sense of purpose in my creative work, and my small place in the world.
I’ve been trying (very, very slowly) to learn a little more about the plants that live around me, so the above photos are of plants that I have seen/found flowering in the bush not far from my home.