I dreamed that there was a great big bear. It had just come out of a lake and it stood on its hind feet. Its fur fell in wet, v-shaped fronds from its tummy. Its tiny eyes rolled. It sought the sun with its long top lip. I put my arms around it, buried my face in the soggy beast, and felt safe.
Obv I find bears terrifying, so this dream partly means I feel the need to ally myself to something terrifying because I currently feel in need of an inordinate amount of protection. Perhaps a more significant part of the meaning of the dream is that I need to actively embrace the things that are frightening me. My subconscious is always fiercely literal.
I have been suffering from pretty crushing anxiety recently. It has to do with issues, some emotional, some practical, the silt of which has been kicked up by recent events, and by the fact that, in general, change is hard. And I am still working hard to change. Move one supporting pillar in your life and the supports for the rest of it shift. Everything changes. I’m doing some major renovations in the area of my health and levels of wellbeing. Surprisingly, (not at all surprisingly), that has major knock-on connotations to the rest of my life.
When you’re very incapacitated by sickness you don’t think about the future, about relationships, about ambitions, about hope. None of those things exist. When you become a little less sick, suddenly all those things pop their heads over the parapet. “Hi,” they say. “We need to talk.”
I say “a little less sick”, because I’m still butting up against the absolute, unscalable wall of my physical limitations. I am much stronger than I used to be. I exercise every day. But my window for being active remains as narrow as it ever was: do my exercise, forfeit some housework. Do my exercise, forfeit seeing a friend. Do this exercise, forfeit a walk later. That isn’t changing. Despite having more muscle now, and a body which is less often a hellish place to be trapped in, I am not becoming capable of longer or more bouts of activity. My “spoon” count, if you will (oh how I hate that term), remains the same. As the months pass I begin to wonder: is the best I can hope for that I will be stable, not relapse, not be in pain, but still largely incapable of having a life? Will the fruit of my labour be that I am well enough to want a life, but not not well enough to have one?
Well, this is a wobble. Wobbles were always going to happen, always will. I’m not enjoying it, but I’m not freaked out by it either. I’m not going to trim my sails. And I’m certainly not about to cave to anxiety at any point. HA! Everything with M.E. takes a minimum of a year before you know whether it’s working. It’s just how the condition is. Ultimately I may have to adjust, to roll back the picture in my head, which was of me having a full life again, travelling, gardening, going out, maybe one day meeting someone, working – I may have to scale it down to me not doing any of those things after all.
Not knowing is the biggest bear of all. It is one of the bears I must – at least temporarily – embrace.