By Melanie Balint Gray.
These days I find myself looking back at recent difficult experiences seeing if I can view them differently. I like to see if some new perspective has arrived, since I’m more aware that my initial view of things is never the only angle from which to see life. As I reviewed one afternoon in the fall I was surprised at what I found.
When my husband was going through six rounds of chemotherapy last year, the high-dose prednisone he was given made sleep nearly impossible, heightened anxiety, and made his nervous system totally raw. This lasted for 5 to 7 days after each chemotherapy infusion. It was sooooooooooo hard on him. And so hard for me.
In one instance his exhaustion, fear, and anger got so extreme. I’d never seen these levels of emotion emanate from this man before. I heard a voice in me telling me that I had to leave. That I couldn’t stay. A hotel. Yes, I’d go to a hotel. The words came and went. But, I noticed I remained, my feet planted on the floor, staring straight at him while he emoted. My body felt like it got jolted by every word he shouted and by any emphatic movements he made – and yet there I stood.
Was I nuts? Why didn’t I follow that voice? Why didn’t I seek shelter from the storm?
What I noticed as I looked back on this scenario was that not only was there the familiar impulse to
withdraw and shut down, but there was a counterbalancing impulse to stay put, get quiet, and openly receive the waves of the outburst. There was unspoken guidance that kept me there. I knew this wasn’t personal. It felt like he needed to allow these energies to flow and that it might be helpful for me to witness his expression of his pain. I didn’t want to short-circuit that process.
Weirdly enough, I felt I was safe. It wasn’t the safe feeling that accompanies a completely calm nervous system. Not at all! I was shaking. I went in and out of fear. But, safe I was… It was so odd.
And there was something or someone watching the whole thing occur. The present part of me which accompanies me everywhere (and always has even though I was often asleep to her companionship) was palpably there. Registering every shockwave to my nervous system, every tightening of the chest that made breathing shallow. She was there. Actually, she was me -an alert, awake, open Me.
Perhaps I was safe because I knew she’d watch over me whether I froze or ran or stayed put. The
security was in the companionship – me with Me. I, the one going through this human circumstance, was accompanied by this noticing aspect. And this noticing aspect, call it Presence or Awareness if you like, was there throughout.
This is where I begin to really stumble and bumble around trying to find the words to describe what I was experiencing. Somehow, this reunion of me with Me, seemed to allow for a different outcome. Not only could I be there for myself, I could steadfastly be there for him. Not in a completely held together fashion; any onlooker would’ve labeled me as, oh, I dunno, maybe as shell-shocked. But, that wasn’t the whole of me that was available in that moment. I was a duo—me/Me. Sort of…
I told you this stuff is hard to write about!
This kind of security wasn’t and isn’t dependent upon anything outside of me – a person, a treasured item, a burglar alarm, a weapon, or some distraction.
There was, is, and always has been Someone to watch over me…
To read more about Melanie Balint Gray, click here.