As written in the Gospels, demons can live in our minds, causing our bodies to act in absurd ways. Whether through faulty circuitry or the intake of simple substances—alcohol, cigarettes or pot, prescription or other drugs, eating too much or too little—slumbering demons can awaken and cause the body to act in abnormal ways. Prescription meds, however, could be a healthy choice in certain circumstances.
The following story helped me better understand the impact my behaviors have on those close to me.
At eight o’clock one cold, early January, new moon night, Shiloh the Lab and I thought we heard faint footsteps on the front wood deck. He rose from his bed, looked at the door, and gave a pitiful, low-energy woof. When the doorbell rang, he glanced back at me lying on my sofa and uttered another plaintive woof, then walked back to his bed and lay down.
I didn’t answer the door. I didn’t even move. The day had been stressful, and, after tubbing for a half hour till night cast its dark spell, I’d fallen asleep watching a movie called Waking Life. In addition, I simply did not look good. The idea of facing a human being, even one who totally accepted me, was beyond my comfort zone.
Had I been in healthy form, no matter what my appearance, I would have answered the door. But following two weeks of an unhealthy condition that sucked all my energy into a deep, black hole, I felt like, and looked like, a leper. Earlier that Friday I’d treated myself to a long-overdue ophthalmologist appointment for my eye and eyelid condition. Nights from two till four a.m., my completely desiccated eyelids would itch, turn redder, and no matter what lotion, oil, or butter I would slather on top of my eyelids, they would still feel like crisp bacon and itch like I felt—crazy. I surmise Eli, the long-haired, feral cat who lies upside down on the living room floor in the sun licking his paws, has something to do with my eye problem, given the number of protein strands seen flying around and that I’ve pulled from my eyes. Or maybe I wasn’t smoking enough medical marijuana.*
|Photo courtesy of Bob Groat © 2002|
By the time I plopped into Dr. Ophthalmologist’s chair, I’d been using prednisone eye drops his associate prescribed over the phone on New Year’s Eve three days before. Despite the racing-heart feeling after dripping the steroids into my eyes, the drops had diminished my elephantiasis-of-the-eyelids appearance. My doc said, “You have allergies. Didn’t you have this problem last year?”
“Allergies to what?” I asked.
He couldn’t say, but strongly shook his head to my thinking it could’ve been wine out of a box I’d consumed on December 13, some of which I could’ve used after he offered no specific reason for my misery. Sure it could be the severe wind and cold during my daily hikes, or makeup (though I opened a new tube of mascara), or dryness in the house (and I gave my Lennox a new 3M Filtrete filter), or using the wrong skin-care products (did someone say “cheap”?), and yes, of course it could be animal related (knucklehead). “You should see a dermatologist,” he suggested, furthering the physician network.
Argh! I’d recently seen my dermatologist, who took off more cancer cells. I was beginning to think by the time they threw me into the furnace, I’d be thinner from all the scraping. ’Course there’s never any scraping off my grotesque belly.
When I left Dr. Ophthalmologist’s brand new building, lighter of credit but happy to have received a 20 percent discount for having no insurance ($84 for 15 minutes), I headed to the mall. I’d not visited the Citadel in five years due to my mall allergy, but I needed to expose myself because it was one of the only places to buy Clinique products locally. Any activity involving too many people and spending money, particularly at the same time, such as a mall, Catholic church, or courthouse, causes severe reactions from my peace and tranquility pathways. Pubs, however, don’t elicit the same effect.
At Dillard’s Clinique counter, I met a kind, lovely lady called Margaret who provided me with hypoallergenic, fragrance-free skin solutions for my eyelids and other areas of exposure, the cost for which I will review upon receiving my inheritance in heaven from Obama. After thanking her sincerely and asking her if we’d become friends would she offer a me discount, I went to Walgreen’s, bought eye drops ordered by Dr. Oph, and left lighter of credit still.
So because I rarely leave my house, except for daily hikes, nor do I drive more than 1,100 miles per year, Friday was stressful, though it was also an ophthalmic relief, but not enough to rise from my sofa to answer the door on a dark, new moon, Friday night.
As I lay in bed that night wondering who might have stopped by and rung my bell, I thought of all my boyfriends, and their nationalities, and their professions, and why I’m not married, and well, you know how wondering minds can wander while a head rests on a pillow. But the last person my brain stopped on before falling asleep was my neighbor, Hannah.
Twelve hours after my doorbell had rung, a fire engine was at Hannah’s place, then an ambulance, then, shockingly, they carried Hannah out on a litter. I crumbled inside, felt negligent. Why didn’t I answer the door last night? What happened to her between ringing my bell and now? I was privy to a lot of history, but seeing her on a stretcher was not what I had expected. I held my breath and watched them drive away with her in the back.
I called another neighbor, Dee, who is equally close to both Hannah and me in knowledge and spirit. I told her I felt like excrement, that I should have been there for Hannah. Dee told me not to worry about not answering the door because I didn’t know who was there, no one called in advance, and it was dark. “People have their problems, and you can’t be there for everyone all the time,” she offered. I still felt no better. People know they can come to me anytime for anything.
Relief swept over me. Knowing Hannah was safe, alive, and home, I could finally exhale. I realized I’d been holding my breath, worrying, and wasting time all day. I bid Dee adieu and cried. Carrying a burden for eight hours made me emotionally raw. I picked up the phone and asked Dee if I could come over and talk for a few minutes. Unloading the day’s stress and suppressed tears helped—it awakened me.
Until we deeply embrace another’s pain and experience the emotional repercussions of his or her psychological or physical disabilities, we stand on the outside shaking our heads. And when we care about someone, really love that person, it matters not which of you is actually going through immediate agony. The secondary and tertiary effects can be equal to or greater than the actual experience itself.
Radiating that concept into the energy field, I wonder how many are affected by only one person’s affliction, be it addiction, a physical disability, a mental disorder, a nervous habit. Any behavior that goes beyond moderation for an extended period of time can be included here and emit a profound negative spirit that others feel as if it were their own.
My friends, this is life.
I am a little wiser today. I see more clearly the impact that my complex-PTSD and its associated behaviors has on others, and I am working to become a better me.
* I really don’t use marijuana, but I’m not against it.
Thanks to RJM for listening and helping.