I’ve been sick for a few days, and I’m trying my best to rest and replenish. Judging by that friendly Facebook “On this Day” reminder, it seems like every year since 2005, I’ve been sick in January and this is about the time when I would take to the internet to whine about it. Facebook has let me know that I’m not as patient as I would like to believe. Self-care is pretty hard for me. Am I supposed to be resting? Am I supposed to be moving? I tried doing some Sun Salutations yesterday and after about three, I felt so dizzy I almost fell over. My heart felt like it was beating in between my ears. I took it as a sign that I should definitely be resting.
This is what’s hard about being ill for me. I want to do something about it. I gulp down teas, cough drops, cold medicine, and all the spicy food I can find while rubbing eucalyptus oil on my chest and praying to any god that will listen. I need to get better as soon as possible. I’m not really sure why I feel this urgency. I definitely feel anxious about not being able to workout and be in my usual routine. I’m nervous and guilty about relying on my husband to care for me. Being sick is being vulnerable. It’s also where I get to find out if I really like myself. I feel joyful when I get to practice yoga, go for walks, wear some mascara, and make nutritious meals for myself. Can I be happy in this body when I’m motionless on the couch, with crust in my eyes, in old pajamas, coughing up mystery fluids? That’s a tough one.
During my reluctant time on the couch, I’ve been able to catch up on one of my Netflix guilty pleasures, Wentworth. It’s an Australian women’s prison drama. Think Orange Is the New Black, but without the heartwarming comic relief plus more stabbings. The series follows the story of a woman, Bea Smith, who is in prison for trying to kill her abusive husband (she changed her mind at the last minute). She starts out naïve and scared, and over the course of three seasons turns into a hardened vigilante anti-hero. In the third season, Bea is trying to take down the corrupt prison warden of Wentworth. She catches the warden abusing a fellow inmate and files a complaint with the prison board, but before she gets to testify at the hearing, she’s attacked and drugged. Days afterward, when asked by her transgender henchwoman, Maxine, what the next step of the plan was, Bea replies, “I’m just gonna sit tight and play the long game.”
Bea was not in a position of power. She tried taking the direct and seemingly easiest route, but her eagerness to succeed caused her to be blindsided. The only way forward was to be patient. While I’m not in prison, (I’m just an anxious gal with a cold) I can appreciate the difficulty in playing the long game. We aren’t patient because we think we don’t have the time for it. Yet, our own hunger to be out and through our difficulties can get us shivved (Um, I mean…lead to setbacks.) My impatience with my body’s ability to heal only causes me to do things that make me more ill. In a month or a year, it won’t matter that I spent three days on the couch resting and making comparisons of my life to female prison dramas. There’s nothing to do now other than feel and accept the vulnerability of the present moment and be patient enough to wait for the right opportunity to act. I can’t Vick’s Vapo-Rub my way to vitality, and Bea can’t take the warden down through the proper chain of command.
We’ve just gotta sit tight and play the long game.