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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Itsy Bitsy Spider

I tossed my bathing suit and towel bag into the back seat of the car, feeling refreshed and energetic after my morning in the physical therapy pool. In my mind, I was sorting out the day’s to-do list: grocery store, dry cleaners, and committee meeting in the evening. I barely noticed that when I opened the car door, it hit my left arm.

“Don’t even ask where I got it, let’s just say it was another automobile accident with a car that was not moving at the time.” I wrote to my cousin Barbara. “The bruise is deep and it took 3 full days to show purple on the surface. Then, I went into four days of denial, so I didn't call the doctor for a full seven days.”

My cousin Barbara says she is going to start calling me “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial.” Denial is my favorite coping mechanism! Like most coping mechanisms it is not effective in the long term. Once I came back to my senses and could see the bruise without judging it or myself, I was able to admit that I needed to pay attention.

It is the refusal to let go of my ego that causes suffering, not the bruise. It is letting go of the plans I made, the expectations I have of my life and myself. Like the unsuspecting insect stuck on a spider web filament, I struggle to free myself from my entanglement.  The spider knows I’m there. It watches and smiles and waits until I am exhausted.

The bruise wraps around the upper left arm almost from shoulder to below the elbow. After two infusions of cryoprecipitate, it is now in that motley fading-out period and looks like a very large multi-colored tattoo. It doesn’t hurt anymore, unless I use the arm muscle.

I could learn a lot about mindfulness from that eight-legged crawly.