The Power of This Pause

Guest post by Judy Freed

The Power of This Pause

For just a moment, there is a pause.

A pause from the years of well-intended, ill-informed inquiries:

“So, what have you been up to lately?  What do you do for fun? See any good movies?  Go anywhere exciting? Get together with any friends?”

For this moment, nobody is asking me these questions.  Instead, there is an awareness that “normal” day to day life has been interrupted.  The questions now are almost always something like: “How are you doing?”  “How are you holding up?” “Are you ok?”

Finally – questions that make sense to me; questions I can answer without collapsing into a too-often told tale of flaw/failure/futility.  Now – I can talk more of feeling and less of doing, without fear of being judged for it.  Now, it is commonly understood that I have not gone anywhere in particular or done anything terribly exciting – Understood because everyone else is temporarily in the same boat.  And in some ways, it is a relief to share this communal isolation.

Still, though, I remain largely invisible.  Most other people are noticing – for the first time – the experience of days and nights and days and nights with little or no human touch/ no social gatherings/ nowhere in particular to go/ no consistent distraction from whatever it is that might be arising from within.

For me – I know this territory, having inhabited it initially (over a decade ago) with the same shock and disorientation, eventually easing into a rhythm that somehow sustains me.

As I watch others publicly posting comments about not knowing what day it is, or not bothering to wear clothing, or not being able to resist eating more than might be appropriate, or feeling like they are losing their sanity because their “social being” needs are not being met – I get it.  I’ve been there.  And something in me wants to scream at the top of my lungs:  “Get over it!  You’ve been experiencing this for a few weeks. Do you have any idea how many of us have been living this way, and will continue to live this way – long after you have resumed your socially satisfying, dashingly dressed, sufficiently scheduled lives?”

The unleashed anger leaps out like a fiery flame, surprising me in its unsympathetic fury.  It screams:  “Do you mean to tell me that all this time I could have been given healthcare appointments without having to put myself in environments that stir up severe symptoms?” And “Do you mean to tell me that all this time I could have been invited to participate in a plethora of personal, professional, and performance gatherings, without having to expose myself to countless chemicals and scent-saturated situations?”  And then the big burning bang of blame: “Do you realize that if you had just been willing to accommodate my requests for being fragrance-free, I would not have needed to live a socially distant life?”

Then just as sudden as the rising of rage, swiftly comes the sadness -the grief underneath, the longing for what has been lost and cannot be re-claimed.  The years of hands not held, hugs neither given nor received, experiences not experienced.

And here is where this all starts to sound so strongly self-indulgent, as if I am pining for pity.  So in case there is any confusion (in my own mind or yours) – I’m deeply aware of the suffering all around me, as people everywhere are dying and distant and in dire desperation.  While I wouldn’t mind some compassion and kindness, I do not mean to paint a poor-me picture. That is not the lens through which I generally see the world or my life.

I hope, instead, to portray a perspective of possibility, patience, presence, perseverance, and ultimately peace.  I aspire to be a vessel for the sharing of gifts, guidance, and grace.  And so, I will close with these offerings of awareness and prayer:  All – yes, all – is temporary.  And tomorrow’s story has not yet been written.  And who I am today, how I show up to the currently unfolding circumstances, how I do or don’t open my heart to all of it, how many blessings I observe and give thanks for – these are the things that shape the path ahead.

May we stay open.  May our conversations connect us ever more deeply.  May this powerful pause serve to awaken, to renew, to transform.

And if you ever ask me what I’ve been doing for fun lately – rest assured that I will simply smile serenely, while skilfully suppressing the urge to swat you. And I will continue dreaming of the day when I am gloriously greeted with: “Tell me about how you are being a rock star of resilience”.

Judy Freed is a theater artist, musician, dancer, writer, and psychotherapist. She is passionate about using creative expression, theater, and performance to build community, break down barriers, and reveal the common threads that weave our stories together. More information about her therapy work and her art can be found at her website: judyfreedhealingarts.com

 

3 responses to “The Power of This Pause

  1. Very well said, thank you for writing this very compassionate piece. Our very unique community has been experiencing this social isolation as a means to protect ourselves, while others freely wear their chemicals since we’ve slowly and painfully uncovered what we were facing…and Now those others are gaining a glimpse of our reality. But as you eloquently stated, their world will allow them to resume activities while we will resume our position of sitting on the sidelines and taking one for the team, so that they may continue to wear their chemicals and enjoy freedom. Something about that feels off, but we’ve been accommodating them for so long, the thought of giving up their perfumes would be outrageous and a violation of their human rights….so I’ve been told….hearing the whining about loneliness, social distancing depression and anxiety sounds like balancing the scales, if only to give those that are deaf to our pleas a glimpse of our reality. This does nothing to solve our lack of freedom issue, but hopefully moving forward, maybe this knowing may help us in creating legislation for a scent free environment and eventually oblige companies to disclose ingredients in perfumes and scented products as did the tobacco industry, thus allowing an awareness and conscious choosing of buying and using those products. Let’s hope this pandemic sets the stage for a new awareness…

  2. Thank you Judy.
    It is refreshing to see one like me who has retained communication skill your insight adds clarity to my personal situation. I can’t help but wonder if getting rid of the scented products would be enough to allow me to resume a full life I am sure it be a great start but I sometimes feel ill from chemicals when I cannot identify a scent. It goes without saying there are many things that should be taken out of the environment not just scents. While removing scents not being enough is the first thing I write it is not the most important part for me it is just how my brain now works on a grab it while you can think it bases with memory issues take away the grace of free flowing organizing of thoughts based on priority… this may become so jumbled I erase it lets see where it goes.
    While I think we need to share outside our comfort circle this and so much more that nobody wants to know….

    I quieter more personal bit of me has been given a voice in your words here I will not tamper with your perfect expression:

    “Then just as sudden as the rising of rage, swiftly comes the sadness -the grief underneath, the longing for what has been lost and cannot be re-claimed. The years of hands not held, hugs neither given nor received, experiences not experienced.”

    The parts nobody sees or normally hears loss grief… and for me as family members stumble over trying to accommodate my illness to include me and I bravely pretend there accommodation was enough… wearing masks and getting thru events only to be bedridden for a wk or more after… I watch them I refuse to let there attempts be in vain too…. I will not let go of all ever is that shortens my life so be it. There has to be something worth the bother of living when living becomes so mundane sad and painful. I make what may seem like strange choices while living with mcs others would think safer is better… and we are surely not all the same.

    While I am locked away the people I love are changed by this too .. on top of that they are aging… we are all leaving here… I don’t want to miss a chance to connect so I make choices… what is the sense of being on earth alone to those I loved pre mcs I owe something to … I owe them to try my very best to sustain a relationship with them so they are not another notch on mcs belt… yep for me there is a lot more loss then my own … people losing me … tho today it may not look like much of a loss to those who love me it is I try to never forget this.

    I have read the most common reason of death for folks like us is suicide I don’t want to go to deeply into this mud but should anyone need to chat about it this is a topic I am familiar with… The anger and grief you talk about which I rarely see in print are just two of the lock down emotions there are many more we don’t often share on web pages. These struggles are taking out some mcs people by suicide. If I was to raise a voice it would be in attempt to spare as many as I can from that fate at the same time… I would not suggest a shrink… but support in living this …kind of life… lack of works here.

    I understand the higher path of the spiritual in this situation the reach for meaning beyond what was my normal understanding .. to put substance behind the loneliness put some clothes on grief and take a look at it from a higher level outside myself when I could not bear to sit with it any longer… I have learned many more ways to sustain my soul while in lock down… while being stuck. One bit I read seemed to fit went something like this … when we cannot expand physically we can attempt to expand vertically… I can’t explain it very well but it is one thing I experienced during the long bed ridden beginning of my first bed ridden lock down… for me it seemed to come naturally without any effort it was only in reading it after wards that I recognized the experience.

    I have run out of steam and no longer know if what I wanted to say got said but I did want to say Thank You Judy cause your works spoke to me in what i recognized as my own truth… if I did that then maybe for today that is the best I can hope for … here is to tomorrow for us all keep thinking about tomorrow and looking for ways to heal
    peace to you all

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.