This I Believe
At fellowship I’m part of a three-week class to develop "this I believe" statements, and tonight we are to bring our final draft. I’ve been at this all afternoon, at times high on Vicodin, which, between that and the stupid pain that flared up very, very badly today, made this rather poignant work. I have two and a half hours to figure out a way to read through this without breaking down. Don’t think I’m going to make it. But for better or for worse:
This I Believe
I believe in a universe that takes care of me.
I have been aware of the universe as a caring, encompassing force since I was very young, and my connection to it has always been personal and real. There is a tangible, nearly visible connector between myself and the center of that universe, and this connection is mine, mine alone, and always there for me. No matter what life’s wound, I have always been able to reach out for that line to the center, and it has healed me, and brought me back stronger and more connected than I had been before.
But six months ago, I began to experience unexplained and frequent bouts of chronic pain. Though I have found a diagnosis–“joint hypermobility disorder”–and some wonderful therapists, the path to health comes with a great deal of discomfort. Worse still, I often don’t know if the pain I experience is progress or regression. Often the pain makes me feel very lonely; others try to understand or empathize, but I’ve found that pain is a very private experience. It also tends to make me more fragile emotionally, and other things bother me more and faster than they would if I were not fighting the pain.
What upsets me most however, is not the pain itself, but what I find out about myself while I am experiencing it. I discover that I am not as happy, or as strong, or as competent as I thought I was. The pain becomes a loudspeaker for parts of myself that need more care and more attention, and they are all too often parts I do not know how to heal. I become, when I have this pain, a person I did not know I was, and a person I do not like. And while I still feel that connection to the nexus of the universe, for the first time, it isn’t helping alleviate the pain. This makes me feel betrayed, and I have tried, many times, to turn away from it.
But I have discovered that I cannot. If I try to sever myself, nothing happens. I can be angry or furious, and I can be insulting, and it doesn’t matter. I cannot cut that connection. No matter what I do, that connection remains strong. And it is there in those failed attempts to sever myself that I am forced to admit that it is not the universe giving me this pain. I don’t know where the pain comes from, or its purpose, if there is any at all, but I know that this connection and that nexus is not the source. I cannot see how the universe is caring for me, which makes it easy, when the pain comes again, to believe that it isn’t. But when I let go of everything, when I surrender the pain and the anger and the fear and the loss, when I do not even look for it anymore, that is when that connection is the most present. It does not cause my pain. It is not, this time, relieving it, either. But it is caring for me nonetheless, and it is supporting me, because this, I am finding over and over again, is a connection that cannot be broken by anything. Not even me.
I believe in a universe that takes care of me. I may not be able to understand how, and it may not always be in the way I would like. But it is always there, no matter what I do. And I can’t believe, though sometimes I am tempted to try to deny it, that a force that constant is anything but love.