So much has happened since spring sprung. All the much has meant I have been inconsistent with making posts here. I hope you will join me in acknowledging and celebrating the ways that I am creative and reach out when I can. I'm working on forgiving myself for not doing more.
This spring, I became entranced by online barter network, "simbi" and noticed that I felt satisfaction from doing a little something for someone (like sharing a recorded story or teaching sign language) on my own terms when I happen to have time and energy. This inspired me to consider what else I could do as long as I edit the process to suit my limitations. I applied to volunteer at East Bay Rape Crisis Center, hoping I could offer my skills back to the community. I also became certified as a professional cuddler (the one on one equivalent of a cuddle party). I then negotiated a work-trade spot for myself to become a cuddle party facilitator.
As all this inquiry and work ramped up, I started feeling more pain in my abdomen. Crazy pain. The kind that kept me in bed, just trying to tune out of my body. It felt like everything in there was glued together and it hurt to move. I had a couple of weeks of this before I made it to the ER and had a bunch of tests done. I had amazing help from friends both new and old. One brave soul spent 8 hours in the ER with me, others came daily (!) to walk the dog I was tending at my house sit. When I lost my next house sit because I wasn't going to be able to walk that dog, my ER friend stepped up and hosted me at her house for a month. The end result of the medical crisis and about 4 weeks of profound pain is that I appear to have Endometriosis ~ yes, on top of everything else. Endometriosis is a condition where uterine tissue migrates and grows in other parts of the body. I have been suspicious that I have had this for a long time and as it turns out, I have had symptoms that match Endometriosis for as long as 20 years. So this revelation that I was right, this is real, and now maybe we can do some treatment is HUGE. There are no plans for surgery yet and right now my symptoms are managed (with some scary relapses) by just being on birth control. I am still feeling pain, but it isn't incapacitating me like it was in those terrifying weeks.
All the things I had started exploring and saying "yes" to caught up with me in the aftermath of that terrible discomfort. I realized I needed to say "no" to the cuddle party intensive training, as well as cutting back on so many things. This pruning has been a rhythm in this illness and I've asked my doctor to go over my medical history with me and review all the different perspectives we have had about my healing. Other updates on things I tried to do are as follows: I have had one cuddle client so far and found myself feeling pretty overwhelmed about holding space for someone when I am so tired and in pain. I still haven't figured out how to be reliable for someone else and still true to my limits. East Bay Rape Crisis said "no" to me volunteering there because the accommodations I requested for my disability were too much for them. How disappointing to try to give with my last ounce of resources and be told no. I did take part in a photo shoot for disabled folks who are survivors or assault. That event was so well managed for disabled folks: a joint project of Sins Invalid and San Francisco Women Against Rape. I offered to volunteer for both agencies and told them I'd be in touch after my retreat in August. I also inquired about volunteering for the Transgender Law Center in SF. Between volunteering and planning to do more marketing for cuddlist in August, I will have lots on my plate! Yes, my best beloved, I plan to say no when I must.
Cuddling is an offshoot of therapeutic work ~ emotional work for sure. It may be that I don't have the strength or stamina for it. I never realized how much it takes just to be present and hold space. I notice how much my heart comes alive when I craft something. If professional cuddling is not a way for me to generate some income, I may try to see if crafting, on my own time can buy me a dinner or a coat. See attached image of the process of carving the wooden earrings I am currently sporting.
As I fly off to the east coast for a summer in tunics in the woods, I wonder what the future will hold. Stay tuned, friends!