Apparently, I look like someone who meditates.
Or so thinks a neuropsychologist I’ve been seeing. For several weeks now, I’ve been a member of a chronic pain group. Twice a week, we see a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and the neuropsychologist. It was the neuropsychologist who had been talking about mindfulness, about the need for us to be aware of our feelings, our thoughts, our behaviors, and the ways in which the three co-exist and influence each other. One of the recommendations she made was that the patients experiment with meditation -- slowing our minds, focusing on our bodies, breathing deeply.
At a recent appointment, I confided that meditation isn’t something that comes easily to me. My mind wanders. A lot. I find it hard just to sit and breathe and relax. And she was surprised. Because according to this doctor, based on the clothes and jewelry I wear and the type of purse I use, I look like someone who regularly meditates. I laughed. I had never heard that particular assumption before. (Years ago, a student’s parent once remarked that because of all my silver rings, I must be a real “party girl.” At the time, I was flabbergasted because “party girl” is certainly not a term that accurately describes me.)
So much for people keeping an open mind, and not making assumptions or having preconceived ideas about someone based solely on how they look and what they wear.
As we talked further, it was determined that part of my problem is the need to be in control. Well, obviously, I’m used to being in control. I was a public school teacher for twelve years; I had to be in control. I’m the mother of a five-year-old son, again another job that requires control. According to this doctor, I need to work on letting go, accepting my current medical condition, and surrendering to it.
I just don’t know how to do that. I realize now that I’ve spent a lot of time and energy essentially trying to either fight or ignore my medical condition. I realize that I had foolishly thought I could keep on going, much as I had before my illness. I had regarded my autoimmune disease as a minor inconvenience and kept barreling through, working and mothering the way I always had. Leaving my teaching career was a huge step, namely because I couldn’t ignore the fact that I am living with a chronic pain condition that isn’t going away. Life as I knew it, had to change. I had to change. And I was fighting it, every step of the way.
I don’t always like change. I don’t like it when Yahoo changes their mail service, or when I have to learn how to use a new cell phone or alarm clock. I am a planner, and becoming someone who qualifies for a chronic pain group, certainly wasn’t part of any of my plans.
I had thought the neuropsychologist was going to tell me that my coordinated outfits and matching jewelry were further proof of my need to have order and be in control. She did tell me not to completely give up on meditation; that maybe buried within me somewhere is a Wendy who meditates. I don’t know about that. For now, I’m just Wendy who is trying to figure out who she is and how she’s going to keep it all together.