Following Jan Richardson and the on-line Lenten Retreat, I am struck by her words last week when she reflected on wilderness and landscape. Pondering Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness she writes that the wilderness, while not desired, is nonetheless formative for without time spent in that landscape we can never have clarity.
Clarity like this doesn’t come cheap. It takes a wilderness. Perhaps not a literal one. But a space where we can shed something of the familiar, the habitual, the comfortable and known; the routines and rhythms that we have shaped our lives around — or perhaps bent and broken our lives upon. And in that space, we begin to see and to know: who we are, what we have been formed and fashioned to be in this world.
I’m thinking about the landscape of my interior life, the thoughts in my head and how it feels for me to be living in this body right now. It’s an odd time. I have much to be grateful for. I ought to feel at ease, peaceful and content. Instead I have heart palpitations, anxiety, perpetually tight muscles (even after a massage), a restlessness, headaches and tight jaw from clenching my teeth. Weight gain, particularly belly region – which cannot be lost, or is near impossible lose. A lingering sense of agitation and irritation despite exercise and meditation. And an almost constant feeling of fatigue. Yesterday my chiropractor affirmed my symptoms and my suspicion that I am suffering from adrenal fatigue, post stress. The years of strain I experienced from 2008-2011 have left my adrenal glands worn out from too much exertion, too much adrenaline. The treatment – long hours of sleep, multiple vitamins and a B-complex supplement, extra calcium and magnesium, more protein, less carbs, lots of vegetables. This all makes sense as I have noticed that I feel better when I eat a diet high in protein and low in carbs. And, I need a lot of sleep, which I have been resisting, thinking I should get up early and exercise! Of course exercise is crucial for this recovery time too. And it could take upwards of two years to repair the damage done to my adrenal glands.
The landscape of this wilderness time, this late winter of snow and freezing temperatures, is changing. I need to shed some of the routines of pushing myself to do more and try harder. I need to spend more time relaxing, eating a little better, doing more yoga, making sure I meditate every day, and take those vitamins daily….
Trauma is like this – the aftermath lingers long after the episode has passed.
Then the trauma was a spiritual crisis, a virtual meltdown of everything I knew, leaving me bent and broken.
It’s no wonder I feel it in my heart – for it was shattered. Now, like someone with Post Traumatic Stress disorder, for which the symptoms of adrenal fatigue is similar, I am mending, slowly.
Perhaps one day the interior landscape of my being will feel like my normal self again. Perhaps one day both my mind and my body will be relaxed, at ease, and calm? I hope that one day my ongoing fatigue will be replaced with energy, my mind alert with a clarity of thought?
One can hope.
Hope is the one consistent quality of my interior landscape which survives all else.