I can move again! My feet, my mind, my entire being feels like it has been lit up from the inside out. The frozen stagnation of the past year plus is starting to thaw. In bits and pieces, here and there, my body and mind are easing.
Increasingly over the last several weeks I have felt myself transforming. I feel stronger, wiser, clearer, more balanced, and more ready to face the world than I have in longer than I can remember. My hopes for healing and taking back my life are starting to be evidenced in the reality of my life. I truly feel like I am a Woman on Fire, transforming like a phoenix from the ashes of my grieving.
2 things have stood out for me like great flare ups of the fire burning brighter and brighter inside myself. While each day there are baby steps forward in this fire dance, these 2 things I write about today leave me feeling so excited at the powerful testament they are of me finding me again.
1.) MY FEET CAN MOVE AGAIN! I mean really move, not just shuffle forward forced by sheer will. They are moving with purpose, joy, rhythm, and ease. I first noticed this a couple of weeks ago when I returned to NIA after a 4 month absence. From the very first song on the playlist that night, “Girl on Fire”, I was awed at the fact that my feet could actually move to the beat. Anytime I had been at NIA in 2015 my feet just couldn’t do it. I would try so hard to get the steps right and pick my feet up to move through the routine but it always came out as this awkward, stumbling shuffle of a movement. I could move my upper body but there was no way to get my feet moving.
I felt such pure, giddy, childlike joy as I felt my feet springing through that hour of NIA. Each and every movement that night was easy and more fun than I could have possibly imagined. I truly felt on fire that night, my body moving like flames in a large bonfire – bright, bold, and free!
This ability to move my feet and really my entire body with more lightness and energy is growing. I’m dancing, walking with power, riding my horse, cooking, seeking new ways to exercise, and simply loving feeling my body strengthen and flow. Amazing, simply amazing!
2.) MY MEMORY IS RETURNING! One of things that is most deceptive and all consuming about grieving is the fog that settles into our brains. While somethings are more clear than we could ever want, the ability to remember things that once came easily is lost. I’ve always had a great memory for details, schedules, events, etc. and have been able to do so much from memory. During the first year of grieving I almost completely lost the ability to remember anything that wasn’t written down. And even if it was written down I didn’t always remember it. Literally I had times that I would have a thought about something I wanted to do and within the span of taking just a couple of steps I would have forgotten it already. As patient as I tried to be with myself, I felt moments of deep frustration and even despair that I would ever be able to function well again.
During the application process for setting up long term disability insurance (I’m working hard to cover all my bases these days), I was interviewed twice – once over the phone and then a month later in a person by a nurse who came to my home. It’s a long interview process to determine how physically and mentally fit I am right now. Part of that process is a memory test in which 10 words were read to me. I then had to repeat as many words as possible in order. This was done 3 times with the list being read to me first and then the 4th time, after several other exercises, I had to recite as many words as I could remember without having the list read to me first.
The first time I was interviewed over the phone was right around the year anniversary date. I laughed throughout the memory exercises because it was so hard to do. I think by the end I could recite 7 of the 10 words but it was a struggle. As frustrating as it was for me at least I could laugh about it. I’m pretty sure the interviewer was baffled by my reactions even though I explained that I was grieving and had a foggy brain.
The second interview was in our home almost 1 month exactly after the first. Going into the interview I felt more focused and clearer than I had during the first. I was determined to do better with the memory exercises. I told the nurse about my first experience and shared that I hoped to do better. She smiled with encouragement.
Not only did I do better, remembering all 10 words by the second round, the nurse was stunned when I was able to consistently name all 10 words in order. She said in all the years she’s been doing this she’s never had anyone be able to repeat all 10 words in order several times in a row. Woohoo! I almost leapt for joy around the room. I love being one of the rare ones. But most importantly it was a powerful sign that I really am taking my life back and I am healing.
Daily I am seeing more and more evidence that the fog is lifting and my ability to remember is returning. I still have moments that things are just beyond my grasp to mentally do but it feels more like a normal part of life. In the foggy times I try to be patient with myself and just wait for the fog to lift. And then once it does I practice strengthening my mind so I can remain clear for longer periods of time.
Movement and memory. Regaining these two things leaves me fired up and ready to try new things. Many moments occur every day that I am caught by surprise at what I can do again. More things than I care to mention that I had forgotten how to do or simply couldn’t connect the synapses in my brain to make it happen. In these surprise moments I am first stunned and then filled with such joy that I am regaining access to my entire being. Awakening bit by bit, I am daily able to move my mind and body just a little bit better. Soon I will be ready to fly!