This does not jive with how I see myself in the world: to be on medication, a middle-aged woman, forever. For one thing, I see myself as young. I don't know what kind of mental and emotional padding allows someone to get within spitting distance of fifty while maintaining such an impression, but there you have it. I still think of myself as closer to college than retirement. Clearly, a bit out of touch with reality.
To my great astonishment (and shame) I cried when I learned this... not the diagnosis, the treatment. Steroids, forever. I realize there is a level of self-absorption here that is probably troubling. I realize too that part of my infant-tantrum response has to do with the fact that I have gotten off scott-free for years, during most of which I treated my body pretty badly. Got morbidly obese, didn't exercise, ate most of my diet out of a bakery. Still, all that time, I had great bloodwork, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, no joint problems. Lucky, lucky and undeserving.
Now, I am a middle-aged lady who has to take steroids and I'm... not exactly having a meltdown. But something is being shaken and stirred in me. My own mortality is real, more real than it has ever been.
There are people I love who are reading this who have far greater challenges, physically or emotionally. There are people I love who would prefer this diagnosis to the cards they have been dealt, which makes me feel like a real crybaby. I don't mean to say this is anything... remarkable. But. It's a change. Let's just say, it's a change. I think of myself differently this morning than I did yesterday morning.
So I lay in bed last night (this morning), my mind meandering through the 23rd Psalm.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
(Amazing, how automatically and cross-generationally this psalm becomes the plank in the water onto which we climb).
2He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
(Makes me lie down... forces rest upon me, and time, and nourishment... takes me to the place where I can be soothed... if I will be open to it.)
3he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4(No words... just opening a space.)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
5(Look, I know this isn't the darkest valley... my God, that gives this thing some perspective. This is just... a bad neighborhood.)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6(I feel Beloved breathing beside me... she is the hands of God caring for me right now. God, whom she doesn't even believe in... God, whom she considers at best a childish delusion, and at worst a name invoked while committing criminal acts of cruelty... but God flows in her and through her as she loves me.)
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.(No words... sleep.)