I caught the virus early.
It was March, 2020, and I had just had a successful art show opening at a local shop. I felt quite wonderful. I was sitting with a colleague in the space and discussing the show when my ex showed up to take a look. I was happy to see him. Though we had ended things, I was trying to keep our friendship intact, but even this was proving to be quite a strain.
He and I talked for a bit, he bought a few pieces, I hugged him, then, he left. Three days later, I woke up with what felt like an elephant sitting on my chest. I had caught the virus from my ex, and what is worse, for the next 18 months, I would struggle with recurring symptoms popping up randomly, knocking me down and out for weeks at a time.
It is a challenge to describe the psychological impact this type of illness had on me initially. I had always been such a healthy person; I was the healthiest person most of my friends knew, and my illness scared most of them to the point that they were all taking extra precautions around their daily tasks. As for me, every few weeks, I would start to feel great again, even healthy, and that would hold for a couple weeks, maybe a month. Then, I would fall back into sickness, oftentimes with new symptoms, but always with the debilitating exhaustion that kept me from getting out of bed for anything but the necessities of feeding and relieving myself.
The time that I spent on my loft bed in my tiny house felt like forever, and simultaneously felt like no time at all. I was too tired to read or do anything approximating work, and my eyes hurt too much to fill my days with the endless watching of shows or movies. The one thing I could do was meditate, and I did that, along with breathwork, as much as I could. Much of the time I would end up crying. My body seemed to need to purge itself of some long-held toxicity that I had been clinging to for too long, and I seized on this moment to do so through tears. When I wasn’t crying or meditating, I was sleeping, on average about 16 hours a night.
I still struggle from time to time with brain fog, emotional surges that seem to come from nowhere, and days where my energy level is so low I can barely make it out of bed. But I am better in many ways and I am so thankful every day that I made it through.
The great gift that this experience bestowed is that I treat myself with so much care, so much tenderness, that my entire life has changed because of it.
I have cut people out of my life who are too stressful to have in it. Once I began to look at my life through the lens of how my relationships directly impact my health, I cut out several that I noticed were depleting me and my energy reserves.
I work at a pace that is much slower than it used to be. I don’t say yes to things I don’t want to do. The pace of my life has slowed down so much that active reflection and heart-centered engagement is more easily included into my days. In fact, my behavior is quite altered, being so even and considered, and all of my relationships have improved because of the care I take with my boundaries.
I now see my life as a work of art, one that must be carefully considered and treated with the respect of a valued work. I have no fear of missing out, because I am so present in every moment that I am awake that I have no time or space to even consider that anything other than what is happening in front of me is of any concern.
It would have been wonderful to get to this space without having to have gone through the fire of Covid, but being here now, I can’t help but be grateful and happy that this is where I wound up.