You Get The Choice You Asked For

September 27, 2012 at 11:18 pm (Death and Dying, Hospitalizations, Living, Living With Chronic Illness, Mental Health, Spiritual, The Journey Towards Diagnosis) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Since this whole infection/abscess situation started, I was holding onto a secret. Something I thought I might keep a secret, not make public in any sort of fashion. It isn’t pretty or nice or paints me in a good light in any way. It cuts me to the core, but I have come to a place of peace with it now, so I think it might be safe to start writing about it.

I had hoped that this business was going to kill me.

I am sworn to Loki not to take my own life, and doubly so to Baphomet that suicide is not an option out of my physical struggles. But there I was, a few weeks fresh from being dumped by the person I thought would walk me to death, and I was done. I saw no reason to keep fighting, to keep dealing with the constant pain and suffering this body puts me through. I felt empty and broken, and when it turned out that I had another severe medical crisis on the horizon I honestly thought to myself, “This is the exit door I asked for.”

When the doctors came to me and explained that the panniculectomy is not only necessary, but very high risk, I wasn’t surprised. In a round about way I had asked for this – I had begged Loki for an option to suicide, and here it was being presented to me on a silver platter, just as I had ordered. And as the news hit my other spirit-worker and shamanic friends, without any chance for them to converse on the subject, they were telling me one by one, “You’re going to die during this surgery.”

“I know”, whispered my heart. “It’s what I wanted.”

But then, because they love me and care about me, my shamanic friends start talking about fighting back. This doesn’t have to be a one choice route, but a crossroads, like any other. When they put the mask on my face to put me to sleep, if I know in my heart of hearts that I want to wake up, that I value what I have, that I have drive and focus and the desire to go through the healing process and finish the work (and Work) that I have left on the earth, then I could make that choice.

But I had to have my whole heart behind it, and that worried me.

I’m honestly admitting I was having suicide ideation. Not necessarily killing myself, but that at any moment, the bells and dings and whoops of hospital machinery would go off and I would just slip into unconsciousness: then it wouldn’t matter if my soon-to-be-ex visited me or not, or whether I had the fortitude to see him move on with his life and his loves without me; it wouldn’t matter if I wanted or did not want to continue to see my body deteriorate and become sicker over time, or if I just wanted to slowly lose grip on the run-down beater I feel like I’m driving and become that spirit-self that feels so free, so unencumbered. And there were a few moments, where my blood pressure plummeted and I felt woozy and dizzy, and I would think to myself, maybe this is it, maybe I can let go…

…but it never came. And more shamanic friends came, did divinations or just felt intuitively that I am getting ready to face what could possibly be the second or third gate in my dying process – the choice to go on in the face of the unknown.

A few days after I got home from the hospital, I had a diviner I trust do an extended reading on the crossroads ahead, and he laid it out plain for me – I had to make this decision based solely on my own experience, not my experience of other people or the desire to share experiences with others. I had to commit to seeing this “dying man” route from start to finish, that my curiosity and desire to continue to be embodied had to grow stronger than my desire to give up.

The choice is there. It’s tangible, in every moment I reach out and really allow myself to feel it. I can choose to give up now, to let this be the final curtain, and let the end of the story be the failure of the one relationship I put the most trust and effort into.

Or not. The hardest part of this crossroads, like any good past vs future choice, is that I have no idea what the future will bring. Well, that’s not exactly true; I’ve had a fair amount of divination in the last few months to try to help guide and shape my expectations and desires for what lies ahead. I know that there’s no miraculous cure on the horizon; not even the surgery I face will do much for the chronic pain, the immune system problems, the tuberculosis, the neurological symptoms, etc. That’s all part of this thing that I will be chasing until the day it takes me.

What the divinations have told me, the only information I have to go on, is that as time progresses, I will dive further into spiritual pursuits, do a lot more writing (if “The Bard” comes up one more time I might scream!), hopefully pass along some of my skills to people who will outlive me, and basically become subsumed into a life that dissects between medical chicanery and spiritual Work.

It was also made clear to me that when I make this decision, I can’t do it because of, or for, any relationships or specific people. While I was first pondering all of this, and influenced by my dissolving marriage, I waxed poetic about my philosophy that part of committing to a relationship is the anticipation of seeing where that person’s journey takes them. And yes, I do want to know what the future holds for Rave, Alex, Winter, Carla, Ruth, Lizzie, and other people I hold dear. I want to spend more time with my godsons. I want to deepen friendships and continue to experience the depths and breadths of love that are afforded me. However, this can’t be part of my decision, because if nothing else, my current situation reminds me that all relationships are temporary in their own way. It could possibly be very detrimental to my mental health if I go into this decision thinking of my relationships, only to have one or more of them come to an end in a way that leaves me regretful. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a person and a relationship, too.

In the end, it’s just me and Death, looking each other in the eye and figuring out if I need the chicken door. (When I worked in a haunted house, the “chicken door” was a hidden early exit for those who found the experience too intense.) Because this isn’t meant to be the natural end of my life, but more an option that I clearly asked for.

If it isn’t already clear from what I’ve written, I wasn’t sure what my answer was going to be at first. Well, if you ask Alex, I was probably leaning heavily towards the chicken door when this first came to light. It’s hard, facing the reality of spending focus on ending a relationship I didn’t want to end, and moving forward in a way I had never anticipated. Add to that the knowledge that my body will only continue to hurt and act out against my will, and maybe it’s better to leave now before things get much worse. I sincerely worry about becoming a burden on my support structure – between financial needs, health insurance, emotional needs, logistical needs, it’s not like I can just pick up and start working again. From here on out, I will be living on the kindness of others in one way or another – alimony, SSDI, socialized health care/medicaid, welfare, donations, etc. No person I’ve met is happy with that sort of reality, even if it’s the only one they get.

It was also too easy to see all the negatives. I had to dig fairly deep to find positives about moving forward. A lot of it in resting faith and trust in the Gods, and although you might think that comes easier for me than most, you’d be partially wrong. Part of what shakes me about the end of my marriage is that I had prayed to Frey the day before I met my now soon-to-be-ex-spouse. I always considered him a gift from Frey, and was regularly thankful to Frey for sending him to me. His departure is his own doing – of that, I am 100% certain, in there is no divine hand pushing this through – but it still makes me question my ability to lay blind trust in my interpretation of what the Gods have to say to me. So no amount of divination, mediation, or any other sort of attempt to utilize the strands of wyrd to predict what lies ahead is completely reliable to me.

As time passed, though, and I turned on my “looking for signs and omens” eyes, I started to see a glimmer of a future I could very much enjoy. I am free now to do a lot of things, and pursue a lot of interests, that I had been hampered from in the past. One way or another, I won’t have to sacrifice my body in order to earn a living (the upside of the whole ‘being a burden’ issue), and that also means that I am free to pursue hormonal transition, living life in a less gendered expectation, and having a lot less pressure to be able to slip into heteronormative mode in times of need. (*My* family already thinks I’m a professional weirdo, and they already know about my intent to take testosterone, so I don’t need to hide that sort of thing from them; I just don’t have to put on the “good wife” drag for someone else’s parents/coworkers/children.) I can see myself pursuing differently-structured relationships – there’s a whole post brewing on why I’m done with the whole concept of marriage – in a way that works more naturally for me. I have a strong family-of-choice who understands that should I choose to live, I will need their emotional support, and they’ve been quick to tell me that they’re ready and willing.

I can see it, a year from now, two years from now. It isn’t perfect, but it’s not terrible either.

So a week ago, I chose. It was odd. It was late at night, and I was having one of those heart-to-hearts with myself about the whole matter, after having a lengthy divination done on the subject. I thought about death, and about what giving this all up would mean, and I just decided I wasn’t ready. I look forward to what the future holds, even if it’s radically different than the mere glimpses I’ve been able to discern.

When I chose, I felt it. It was as if the door to Death closed a little more. See, it was made clear to me that I’m still going to die, but that something will happen to bring me back. For years now, Raven has been trying to convince me that I was walking a Death Shaman’s path, and I think this is the final door in that process. The surgeons have been clear with me, that this is a risky surgery with a lot of potential problems, and it’ll only take one thing going wrong for everything to change.

However, I’m also prepared to be wrong, and that I will actually die from this surgery. When I felt that energetic shift after I made my choice, it was as if I had also come to peace with the other option as well. It’s not what I want, but if it happens, I’ll be okay with that too. I accept the consequence of asking for a chicken door, and if Loki decides to push me out, it’s nobody’s fault by my own. Also, surgeons are humans who make mistakes (boy howdy) and maybe there won’t be some big divine moment as much as my apnea will just take my breath away; or my blood pressure will plummet to suboptimal levels, or a surgeon’s hand will tremor and nick the wrong thing. I’m looking at these last few weeks before I go back to the hospital (I get a date sometime next week) as a chance to come to a place of resolution about the life I have already lived. Because I know that when I come back, it won’t be the same.

In that way, no matter what happens, something about me will die in that OR. I don’t rightly know what, but I’m sure I’ll feel it one way or the other. There has been some speculation as to how things will change, but I’ve decided not to worry about that until the time comes. I figure it won’t be hard to miss. I might not feel it when I wake up in recovery, but as I try to resume life as I know it, I just know that it will be like my last transformation – I’ll reach out to something familiar, and it will taste of ash. It will have been burned away, like so much of my life in NY had been. I’m definitely looking into a few logistical changes, like where I live, as something that might end up changing permanently once again. I may lose spirit companions, or be repurposed in some way, or find hobbies and other distractions that are core to me simply lose their fascination. I never thought that having gone through one shamanic transformation would be a good thing, but in this case it gives me some idea as to what may happen when I emerge from this chysalis.

So that’s one of the big secrets I’ve been sitting on in regards to my current situation. It’s why I haven’t been as present online as I normally am; I’ve taken a large amount of time to think and journal and meditate and talk and look for omens so I can figure out what I want out of this opportunity.

I want to live. Let’s hope that’s what happens. As I like to say at the end of every will-working, “this or something better for the good of all concerned.”

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17 Comments

  1. Terie G Spencer said,

    Love and light to you, Del. Your thoughtful and honest writing (and your thoughtful and honest life!) is inspiring.
    Teege

    • Del said,

      I try. This was very hard to write; it’s not every day someone just ups and owns up to feeling suicidal. I’m sure it’s not a shock to anyone who knows me or who has seen me in the last few weeks, but it’s a weakness I was loathe to admit. However, that stupid Bard tile keeps coming up, right in a way that can only mean, “Hey dumbhead, you promised to be writing about this stuff, and you aren’t doing your job.” So I did. I hope it serves as an inspiration to others who face similar situations and know that there’s always a choice.

  2. Rebecca said,

    Love you.

    • Del said,

      Thank you. I may call on that as time progresses. I will admit to having a hard time feeling “love” from anyone lately, even when it’s been radically apparent. I am trying to, as best I can, because I know it plays an important part to all of this, too.

  3. Wintersong said,

    Reblogged this on BarkingShaman.com and commented:
    Del continues to walk his difficult path with grace and fortitude, talking about the things that most people would be tempted to leave unsaid.

  4. AmyAmy said,

    So much love, albeit from far away.

  5. NimuesWit said,

    Because you’ve asked, I’ll hope for you to live.

    Whatever happens, though, please know that reading your blog has been intensely meaningful for me on a number of levels. Sometimes it has been uncomfortable, sometimes it has made me nod along, and sometimes it has brought me to tears. For as long as I can, I’ll be listening.

  6. Sharon said,

    I am here, to help in any way I can. Sending love, light, and laughter—to use when all seems dark.

  7. Fala said,

    You have strength and courage that is rare in this world. Not always easy to feel, I know, but you have it.

    I will hope for the best outcome for you… and most especially for the one you want the most. 🙂

  8. Tricia said,

    Your strength to face such decisions, to talk about such decisions and to blog about such decisions continues to blow me away.

    I can see why you haven’t been around as much, that’s a lot to work through on so many levels – and then to work through how to post it (and not wanting to post it).

    I love you Del, and I’m concentrating on your last line: “this or something better for the good of all concerned.”

  9. Moira Parham said,

    When I divorced, a friend pointed out to me that when one loses a spouse, regardless of the circumstance, one goes through the grieving process. It’s the same effect; someone who was very much a part of your daily life suddenly isn’t there anymore. I know I hit the depression phase, and was having an internal struggle for a bit where I just couldn’t imagine life without him, or without anyone. Then I got over that hump, and am pretty damn happy these days. I can’t even imagine the extra pain you have. A divorce is bad enough, but you also have life threatening health issues to deal with. That you are still able to get over that hump and move on speaks to your incredible strength.

    Selfishly, I hope you keep on keepin’ on, because I think you’re a pretty cool person, and you are someone who forces me to think with your insights.

    I can’t speak to the health issues of course, but with regards to losing a spouse in the manner you did, trust me when I say it gets better. As for your health, I will keep my fingers crossed that this surgery goes well and does all that the doctors think it should.

  10. Renee said,

    Not only do I want you to continue to live, but I simply can’t imagine a world without you in it. Even though I haven’t seen you in what feels like forever, you’re still there. And just knowing that is important to me.

    I can’t begin to imagine the strength it took to write and post this; I salute you for it.

    I am hoping to, at the least, spend several hours talking with you over the phone over the next few weeks. Whether I can visit in person will depend on a lot of things, including when your surgery is scheduled, but I’d like that too. You’re pretty darned awesome and I want to get to share more of that. Is that selfish? Yeah, but I’m hoping that you can still get something out of spending time with me, too.

  11. facingthefireswithin said,

    Well, we had talked privately. If you need that “pre-fight” talk, let me know.

  12. EVCelt said,

    I continue to hold you in my prayers… and they have never been about outcomes or specific results, but about what is best for you- “help him, bear him up, help his doctors find the right diagnoses and treatments” is the essence of what I ask for you…

    Let me know if you need to talk privately or anything.

    I love you.

  13. Elizabeth said,

    I am glad to hear that you’ve chosen to live. You’re in my prayers, as always.

  14. Shakti Lemaris said,

    Witnessing. Holding you in my heart.

  15. Ainslie Podulke said,

    I have been touched and challenged by your words. They lead me back in my own direction, sometimes. I will be on the lookout for whatever the future brings of you. My little child heart is sad there is a chance I may not read your beautiful words again.

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