A year has passed since Rex drove out of my life. Yesterday, I woke with a bad cough and headaches and felt sick all day at work. By nightfall I had a fever and chills. I could barely walk and my skin, muscles and bones hurt. I never get sick. The last time I was sick was in 1984. So what went wrong.
Anniversary dates of a death or an ending to a relationship can take on physical symptoms. While emotions are busy churning up tears, all the organs are under siege by stress hormones. Vision becomes blurred, thinking is unclear and the final stage is to get flu-like symptoms or a really nasty cold that bites. This is the body’s indelicate way of discharging all of the emotions. So today on this anniversary, I am in an intensive care unit of my own making, still wishing I were dead. I’m just not that lucky.
For the entire year, I’ve been taking an inventory of all the things he did to me. You can take that to mean this inventory needed the entire year to accomplish such a list. I did this not to marinate in resentment, but to break down my own denial system. Locking into how he treated me and others brought so much more clarity about the content of his character. Strangely, while I got the big picture, rage and love were still cuddling up next to each other. The flu may be an ending to all of this.
I feel weak and injured and will do anything to feel good again – what could I eat? Drink? Should I sit up, or grab my microwavable bed buddy and lie down? I want to feel good. Everything hurts. Back, head, skin, and stomach are all compromised. I find something that does the trick. I heat milk, sugar and vanilla and sip it. I turn on the TV and watch Gary Sinese who looks like Rex did forty years ago. I see an actor who does what he loves, loves his family, is gifted, handsome, sexy and at 53 looks 33. Since clarity has not set in yet, all I know is that I “feel” better – so the cortisol and insulin levels must be dropping.
Now I begin thinking about how to change my life and I start with looking for things that make me feel good – all the time. This means saying no to those people, places, circumstances and jobs that don't make me feel good. This sickness of heart, mind and body is showing me how.
I miss him and I miss my dog who died five months ago. I miss things I never knew. I miss the whole megillah. But how can you miss what you never had? What was never there? The dog was glued to my heart and mind. For 18 years, he was there, in mind, spirit and body, a constancy born of unconditional love. He was always there waiting for me to come home so we could go out together and visit friends, walk, eat, dance and play together. He was nineteen when he died of natural causes. He didn’t one day decide to wander off with several other lady friends. I miss my dog terribly. But not the way I miss Rex. I miss Rex the way you miss a heart attack, or a nuclear attack. I miss him the way boxers miss the final blow. It hurts and stings. But by the final round, you’re glad it’s over.
Meanwhile, platitudes make my eyes cross. And anger comes out sideways, not at Rex, but directed toward the President of the United States or the mail clerk at the post office who takes her time chatting with each customer WHILE I’M ON MY LUNCH BREAK. Anyone and everyone but Rex.
I feel challenged beyond belief, so last night when I discovered I could find comfort in a cup of milk and Gary Sinese, I realized I was finding things to make me feel good. One of them was choosing to stay home today. The medieval and ill-founded British way of toughing it out no longer serves.
In future, I will be searching for more ways to feel good that will produce those good feelings. For today, I’m housed in a cocoon of comfort and warm milk, behind a sign that reads: NO VISITORS ALLOWED.