During the time span of being sick for over two weeks, and really sitting with the emotional (and psychological) aspects that came up from a diagnosis with Bell's Palsy that had me feeling far different than the image being reflected to me in the mirror, I knew the overall message was to rest, and why I chose not to listen before it came to the rollercoaster that was delivered isn't entirely revealed to me, yet.
The (acknowledgement) of the cold came first. A minor but stubborn, foggy head and germs invaded my system, leaving me feeling strange and emotional, as my colds tend to leave me, but the numbness and partial facial paralysis was something I couldn't prepare myself for. To feel yourself change while everyone around you sees nothing different reminds me of my days out of high school, following the call of the Goddess more deeply and sensing that my overall being was entirely different, yet I remained looking the same to others who knew me well -- or so it would seem.
I felt different, I felt numb... and I panicked. I have spent about half of my life dancing the shadow dance, mostly leading on the dance floor, other times allowing my dance partner to rule, stomping on my toes, belittling my efforts, and convincing me that my efforts were worthless -- the dance of depression that is often felt and very seldom seen -- granted this is one of those dysfunctional aspects of the shadow when not partnered in love, and I have been revisiting those memories for a couple of months now.
Last month I did some healing work with a dear friend, leading me to the center of pain that had been buried, left behind and waiting to be discovered, and what has transpired since that healing has been nothing short of amazing and fucking ridiculous... I can't help but laugh at how the Universe presents these gifts, and how we either rip off the wrapping paper with eager desire or we carefully (frightfully) peel away the tape, ever so slowly, unsure of what comes next, perhaps wondering if the package itself is going to be the best part of all.
My gift came in the form of a cold shared by a stranger I met for a few short minutes, though her spirit must have sensed that my spirit self was asking for a retreat -- a time to simply let my guard down and go within, but not too far, no, not too far, but just enough to examine myself from this newly healed persona.
The gift was wrapped in the form of a Bell... and I felt distorted. Mutant even. I didn't want to be seen nor touched. Dramatic when the reality is that my condition was extremely mild and hardly noticeable at all, but then again, what we feel is far different than what we appear to be. I felt different, and I didn't like how it felt. I didn't like how it controlled me, and I loathed how much control I gave it.
In my dance with depression I have always come out victorious. My friend had said how impressed he was with me, how far I have come, how I am the definition of what magick can really do for someone. Perhaps. There was this ping in my body of discomfort in having heard this out loud. He had even said that he felt that I needed to hear it, that I needed to be told how much I have accomplished, and I realized that "ping" was there to remind me that I am still working on that layer of compliments that my inner child so rarely received.
In a moment of panic, before the diagnosis, before going to the ER to find out what, exactly, was wrong, I looked at Drac with pained eyes, complete vulnerability permeating the room, and I was able to say, for the first time out loud, "I'm scared that now that I have made the conscious choice to live that that choice will be taken away from me..."
Even relaying it in my mind is painful... it's sad... sad for that little girl 16 years ago who felt the only option was trying to end her life... sad that she hid, so buried, so frightened, so abandoned and so alone, in her own darkness, housed by two beings separated, and it took 16 more years to come to a place where she could be peacefully integrated... and upon her integration she became frightened all over again, that her life would be changed in ways she couldn't control.
Our minds can be rather dramatic, but the drama unfolds into action, hopefully, that inspires change... transformation. I gave power back to a voice that was silent for too long. I can't say that it doesn't still scare me to some degree, but I'm not as squeamish as I was before.
And so, in that time of Bell's and sickness, I sat... I sat under my favorite blanket and just... sat. I pulled out my journal and wrote, not much, my thoughts felt they needed to be more internal than stretching themselves onto paper, which journaling tends to be my normal approach to almost anything.
I needed quiet. I needed to keep my hands busy, distracted, so my mind could just focus on one thread to the next. Somehow my mind convinced me it would be a good idea to go through my stash of yarn and unravel all the skeins to form into solid balls... and so I began, one skein at a time, taking small ones at first, then larger ones, unraveling each and just rolling them up. It went by faster than I anticipated, and it was calming. My hands were busy, my mind was relaxed, there was nothing to do but simply ravel this yarn up. That's it. How permissive!
I saved one particular skein for last. I purposely saved it for last. I bought this amazing sock yarn last year while vacationing in the mountains. The womyn at the yarn store happily spun all the yarn into tidy balls for me, except this particular one in which the machine she was using was having problems. I told her not to worry, and she switched out the yarn for a newer one to make the process easier for me. I came home, put it away and told myself I would get to it later.
This was later. I had done them all, I wasn't feeling well, I needed a distraction, I didn't want to do anything but just complete this (which, for a Capricorn, is a big deal, since we are masters of beginnings but fall prey to the art of completion at times)... and so I began unraveling this orange and green yarn. I felt excited to think when it would be done I could eventually start up a new project, asking myself why I put it off for so long... then, in a moment (because everything really is but a simple moment), the yarn tangled.
And I mean t-a-n-g-l-e-d. And it tangled some more. And some more. I had somehow managed to make such a mess of this yarn that it was nothing but knots and tangles and a complete and utter disaster of fiber. Those little people that sit on your shoulders began to guide me on what I should and shouldn't do... "Trash it... it's not worth your time" the rebel said... "Stick with it, you'll feel so proud once it's done and you've completed it" the idealistic one said...
I came back to this documentary I had watched a couple of months ago, "How To Cook Your Life", and this one line the Zen Master had said about washing rice -- how when you're washing the rice "wash the rice" -- and it has become a mantra of mine since then, to remind me to be in the moment of everything, in full awareness, whatever I am doing I am "washing the rice". It has since become an inside joke with my spiritual mother who will often hear me recite this line when I know I need to really be with something.
Wash the rice.
So, I told myself, while all of this was going on, that I wasn't going to be distracted, that I wasn't going to be angry about this mess that was in front of me, but that I was going to take a spiritual approach to this unraveling and just "wash the rice".
I began to look at it as a metaphor of my life -- in looking at this mess, how will I handle it -- how do I handle messes that occur in my life now? Do I accept the anger and become fueled by it (which has its benefit when the anger isn't destructive), or do I embrace compassion, for myself and the situation, and work to heal? So I began to unravel, ever so slowly, and the first day saw little results. I wasn't discouraged. I told myself that tomorrow it would be complete. Hours into the second day the anger started to bubble. Drac had come up to me and asked how it was going and I just muttered through gritted teeth, "I'm washing the fucking RICE!!!"... and he laughed. We laughed. How insane I must have looked!
By the third day, with two balls forming on either end -- one neatly rolled together, the other done messily, knowing it wouldn't be permanent because I consciously wanted it to be neat -- something shifted. This no longer became a tangled mess of yarn... it shifted into a healing session. This was a healing of the moment, a past life regression, a glimpse into the future, all rolled (no pun intended) into one. Life was mirrored by the knots. Sometimes tight, sometimes loosely formed, other times tangled into other threads, with an uncertainty as to where it began, where it would end, if it would ever end -- much like depression: when you are in it, you can't see beyond the scope of the pain. You are in the moment with it to a degree, but you are also wrapped up into the pain of before, and in looking at the overall picture all you can see is the pain that will continue. You can't see it ending, because it looks too tangled to ever end.
Each roll of the ball, going over and under, untying, pulling and tangling some of it up even further... it all had this synchronicity to it. It was entirely synchronous.
I can't relay everything that happened as a result of this one skein of yarn, how the threads unraveled easily when I stopped looking at the overall skein but instead looked at what was in my hand in front of my eyes at that very moment... I was washing the rice. I can't begin to explain how life, my life, human life, spiritual life, became clear to me as a result of unraveling yarn. I can't explain how the one side of "perfection" that was neatly rolled ended up being the much smaller ball, and how the "imperfect" one became the one twice its size... or how I consciously chose to unravel that larger one to morph it newly fixed into the new one; thoughtfully, slowly, expressively... I can't explain how when it was over there was both an excitement of completion with having done it in mindful pleasure, or the sadness that enveloped my moist eyes because it was complete... life lessons were learned and immense healing was birthed from these simple fibers that became a metaphor for life.
What will become of this fiber? My spiritual mother suggested a creation that could be passed down with the stories and lessons learned and gained from this experience... something to share with my daughter, full of the mysteries of life and of wombynhood... and upon this suggestion I heard Spirit whisper that it should be an altar cloth... and so it will eventually be.
Two weeks later my cold has left my system, my Bell's is nearly released, and the yarn awaits new creation. I have been reminded to celebrate the artist in each of us, including that which painted this place and time for me to embrace illness and heal through/with it. New dance steps were learned, with vital messages of Being without justification.
In the end, "washing the rice" became the best medicine.