Sunday, November 28, 2010

Patterns and Immunity

Whatever cold I had last week pales in comparison to the mucous-y beast I contracted yesterday.  Derek has been laid up for three or four days with what I thought was just a more intense version of my exhaustion cold.  Turns out it was a separate illness altogether, which I am now battling.  Fortunately, I had today off and tomorrow as well, so I should fare well against it.  Sleep and stillness seem to be the only activities that still the running nose and halt the wracking cough.  Ugh.  I hope that we haven't given this to other people, as it is a miserable state to be in.  I have been told that everyone who attended the wedding has caught this same thing, though.

So, while I am sick, I am pondering old adages, like "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  In the case of illness, I think that has the potential to be true, as long as it doesn't irreparably damage your immune system.  Often as we recover from disease, we become immune to that illness and often similar versions of that illness.  Is this true for all things?  For example, does coming through hurtful relationships give you a similar fortitude if it doesn't break you?

I would say yes.  While I wouldn't encourage anyone to deliberately put themselves through the trial of an abusive relationship, I think that the experience of one does leave you with an awareness that you didn't have before.  You become able to see your abuser's particular kind of manipulations in others and avoid it accordingly.  Sometimes you even will have learned how to use those manipulations against others.  I am not sure if this is a sign of strength or of permanent damage, though.

There are novels written on the psychology of relationships and their dysfunctions.  Like our bodies are prone to certain diseases and strong against others, perhaps our choice in partners also follows a similar inheritance.  This is not to say that there is no joy in love or sweetness in partnerships, as I believe wholeheartedly that there is.  I can also see, though, that there is a pattern to the disharmonies individuals continually find themselves up against when trying to have loving relationships. 

If you have a need to help others, you find those who need help, and then resent them for asking so much of you.  If you are afraid of being abandoned, you create situations in which the other will abandon you, or choose ones where it is inevitable.  We like to prove to ourselves that we have a reason for our fears.  The best way to do that is to find someone who can prove to us all that we hope and simultaneously fear.

My brother once asked my grandpa how it was to have lost his wife after so many years together. My grandma died of post-polio syndrome after they had spent 50 years together (or at least that is the math in my head!).  Grandpa said that he thought of her every day, still, even after 18 years of her being gone.  It still hurt even after all that time.  My brother took this to be a reason not to commit to anyone, because to have such a hurt seemed too much to bear.  He would rather not become dependent on another person and suffer their loss someday.  He is also afraid of choosing the wrong partner.  What if there is someone out there that is perfect for him, but he won't know because he was busy off with someone else?  If he picks the perfect partner, will he be doomed to deep grief someday when he loses her? I am sad for his interpretation of those feelings, but I see in his reaction a truth that we all suffer.

What we fear we take to be permanent truth.  Maybe our bodies are like that, too.  When I am sick, is my body over-reacting to a perceived threat?  Could the virus or bacteria be disposed of with a lot less fanfare?  Why must my head ache, my limbs become sore, my nose turn into a faucet, and my throat burn?  Getting up and putting on clothes made my heart race like I had run a marathon today.  Is this similar to the way I panic over hurting someone's feelings?  Is it similar to the way I sometimes have such disproportionate anger towards annoying circumstances?

Of course, there are times when a giant effort to ward off death is necessary and a great idea.  I can see how I often treat regular everyday circumstances like they are a fight for my very life, though, even though they really aren't.  By overreacting in that way, perhaps I have lost the ability to percieve clearly what is and isn't a threat.

It could be a lot more pleasant and easy to simply address what comes up each day rather than push it all into categories and try to control it.  I may have a great deal of ability to get things done, but it doesn't mean that I need to control the outcome of everything I touch and become involved in.  I don't even need to have such control over the particular activities of each day.  When I label and decide "today is good for this, and tomorrow is good for that," but then that comes up today and this is put off until tomorrow, I get really upset.  Why?  It all gets done eventually, and it's been my observation that people don't really care what order I do things in as long as I do a thorough job.  It is myself, finding reasons to be upset to prove that I was right to be worried about it all in the first place.  If I can lose the worries, then there won't have to be panic and life or death struggles every hour.  And that would be fantastic!  Also, I suspect that outcomes could be a lot more powerful and exciting that way, if allowed to take their own course rather than have me in my worry and narrow-mindedness controlling it all.

I think a good goal would be to continue to be observant, but not to be worried about outcomes.  Learning to be flexible about what happens liberates the emotions and probably my body by extension.  By noticing what is going on and choosing my best possible actions, without worrying too much if it will or won't go the way I plan, I can learn to relax.  I will have done my best, which is all I can do anyway.  I will have nothing to regret.  And I won't have to worry about what could have happened if I chose differently.  What is happening right now is all there is.  I can't change the past.  I can only act right now.  The future is non-existent.  I can never touch it.  Why worry about it?  I am here.

And so, here I am, in my body which is tired and achy and sniffly.  Best possible action?  Turn off this computer and get more water, read my book and fall asleep.  Plenty of time for contemplation tomorrow!


Catherine said...

hello....yesterday we had a lecture on colds and flu. Tip of the day - all the things that make the cold feel better ie antiinflammatories, temperature lowering pills etc - work against your body's healing and prolong how long you will be ill for (just it will be more bearable). If you can take a day to lie in bed and feel all hot and nasty so much the better. Also -- all those aches and pains are coming from your body, not from the virus itself. the virus has already been munched on to a great extent and now your body is trying to clear the rest away. or something like that.

I like reading this - especially about being flexible. I was heading into college from a friends today but snow messed up all the trains. I ended up late and at a different station and decided to come home as I didn't want to get stuck. As soon as I got on the train home though I started panicking about missing out on lectures and all the rest of it -- coming to terms with a day that can be different to what I expected, and making the most of it, is both challenging yet really liberating too.

I love you!

Blaze said...

I generally try not to take any medicines at all if I can help it. I believe that they only disguise symptoms, and don't actually give my body more ammo to work with against viruses and such.

I know that my body makes the aches and pains as it fights the intruder. I wonder when the aches and pains kick in though? Is it at the beginning, or after the major munching on the virus that the body hurts so much? Probably after. But why such a vastly different reaction to different illnesses? Some people hardly seem to get sick at all!