A while back, I spoke to a friend about the phrases ‘to handle something’ or ‘to have a grip on something’ in connection with the physical ability to hold, handle, or have a grip on something as a manifestation of an emotional and psychological capability.
Another friend once told me: your body never lies. She was adamant that we have to listen to our bodies in order to keep our minds and souls healthy.
A pain in your hands or arms could be a true psychosomatic symptom of your lack of grip on life. You are no longer capable of handling things. Metaphorically, something is slipping through your fingers and you are in no position to stop the process.
I can no longer move my right arm without experiencing pain. In fact, I am in constant pain no matter what I do. I type and write through pain. My body has been screaming for a long time now, and I have been trying really hard to listen to it attentively, but I realise that I have lost my grip on something, perhaps many things, and it is no wonder that I have been dreaming of rest, of doing nothing, of simply relaxing and allowing myself to recharge the batteries that have been empty for many months. I am no longer handling my everyday life the way I would like to. My mind, body and soul find no peace. In the last three years I have been through so much that expecting anything different would be expecting miracles. Grief, illness, theft, evil, betrayal, injustice, incompetence, car accident – any of these blows of fate would be enough to break you. Facing all within a relatively short period of time takes a lot out of you. No; not a lot. Everything.
Listening to your body is one thing. Action is another. Or rather inaction.
Since February I have been telling friends that I would be taking some time off to rest. No deadlines, no creative or critical writing, no editing, no translating, no appointments – no work of any kind actually. Just rest: meeting friends, reading for pure pleasure, sleeping late, walking, swimming, watching TV, basking in the sun, laughing (a lot!).
I have never been bored in my life. Maybe I could get bored for once? How long would it take?
I had this grand plan of learning how to quilt while resting (I always find it reassuring, comforting, to see something come into being in my hands – activities like crocheting, knitting, or ironing soothe me). But now, not only has my plan of a self-imposed sabbatical been delayed because of work-related commitments I simply cannot get out of (I know, I know!) by two to three weeks, I actually cannot quilt, at least not until my arm recovers.
It is pathetic.
I realise that it is so much easier to take care of others. Now, I have to learn to truly take care of myself. I will do my job, because it is important to me, but I also have to grant myself some proper rest – because I am important to myself. When you live on your own, it is a surprisingly difficult lesson to learn. But, in the words of Manuel: “I learn, I learn!”
Be kind to yourself, they tell me. I try.