Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Both Richard and I are in the patient position right now.  He is recovering from open heart surgery that replaced and repaired heart valves.  And I am on my familiar pain roller coaster, which of course, is reactive to Richard's state.  It's as if we're hard wired into each others nervous systems.  When he has heart flutters, I have pain poundings.  When my pain is rising, he develops the empathy blues, which is not healing for his heart.

In the past, when I was the sole patient, if I sank into the pit of doom, I could count on Richard to shine the light of hope.  His commitment to my improvement would infuse me with something like hope.  His presence and kindness, replenished me.  And when I felt better, emotionally and physically, he grew lighter.  That was our pattern.

Now we are on new turf.  Both of us patients.  He can't tolerate too much doom, and I slide down the slick walls of the pit too easily when I don't hear his voice calling to me.

As unfamiliar and disturbing as this disruption is, it is also a call to action.   I confess, with embarrassment, I have gotten too comfortable with the patient position, too self protective.  This inversion of roles is actually recharging me -- inviting me to step more deeply into my own capabilities and into taking care of the person I love most.

I spent 14 hours a day by his side when he was hospitalized for 10 days.  Now that he's home, I do the shopping, the laundry, and take out the garbage.  Little things - but markers of engagement with the world.

My biggest surprise is that as I do chores for Richard's benefit, and do them with love, I grow stronger, and I have a wider field on which to show my love.

btw -- I don't recommend this route to anyone as a path to recharging and becoming bigger than you think you were.  But it was given to me and I'm liking the results.

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