On Accepting What is Offered

by Dawn W

If you’ve encountered me in person (or on Twitter) for the month of July, you know that I’ve been sick pretty much the entire month. I had a cold/allergy issues. I had a sinus infection. I had pneumonia. Correction, I technically still have pneumonia as it takes weeks to fully recover from.

No one likes being sick, but I especially hate it. You’d think that my overwhelming narcissism would love it. After all, being sick is an excuse for attention and sympathy and cuddles.* Except I don’t like pity, and to my mind’s eye, sympathy and attention look an awful lot like pity. Admitting that I’m less than perfect is hard for me. (See previous post and also the last 31 years of my life). So, I downplayed the sickness as much as I could. “I’m not sure I’m going to make it to dinner tonight. I have pneumonia and I’m actually kind of tired. Sorry!” This is an actual email I sent, you guys. I know it looks stupid. I would drive across town to shake sense into someone who sent that email to me. But it makes sense for my life.

My beloved friend family decided that being sick and quietly suffering while still working/volunteering/trying to run a committee/living life as normal was not an acceptable plan. So they banded together and did a number of wonderful things.

They banned me from church and social activities. Seriously. I was told in very clear terms that I was to stay home and rest instead of doing anything.

They reminded me that self-care is more than taking time to recharge after a day of extroversion and reading good books. It’s about saying no to things even if you want to say yes. And it’s about saying yes to the things you don’t want to say yes to. Like help. As my dear friend put it, I had to learn to accept the “kindness of the Kingdom.”

And then, dear readers, my friends and church family decided to feed me. For almost a solid week, a meal (usually enough for two or three) appeared at my door. Homemade soups and casseroles and fruits and vegetables and all the healthy things my body needed that I didn’t have the energy to make for myself. Every single time I felt guilty and tried to push away the gifts, the answer was always the same. “St B’s is family and you are loved.’ (I could write an encyclopedia on how much I love my church).

Some amazing and fascinating things have come out of this. I’ve realized that all my people still love me even though I’m actually human and get sick. That’s astounding to me. I’ve learned to expand my definition of self-care. I say yes to different things now. Things that bring me calm or joy. I am learning to say no to things even if they give me joy and fulfillment while I learn boundaries. Because I can’t give my whole soul to every endeavor. If I do, there’s no soul left for me. I’m learning to spoil myself in small ways. (Pedicures, anyone?!)

To all of you who prayed and cooked and chastised and loved me through a month of sickness and beyond, thank you. You are all my happy place. Now that I’m feeling better, let’s hug it out next time I see you.

*Author’s note: I always want cuddles but never ask. Feel free to hug me next time you see me. Seriously. I may make a sarcastic remark but I’ll actually be really chuffed.