I’m fairly certain my therapist and most people who work with folks who have memory and cognitive issues will balk at this post; nevertheless I’m going to write it anyway.
Part of my morning practice is to read from a selection of books of inspirational short essays or thought-provoking poetry—many of which I’ve read through at least three or four times. I’ve created a little nook in my living room with a comfortable chair positioned so I can see across the valley and watch the birds, and a small table on which I keep my books, journal, a small candle, essential essences, a candle snuffer, a pen and in the drawer, some tissues. After lighting my candle, I take a few deep cleansing breaths, select spa radio on Pandora and open my first book.
This morning one of my readings was from David Whyte’s book Consolations, from an essay entitled Withdrawal. I’ll cite a few lines which spoke to me:
“Withdrawal is often not what it looks like—a disappearance—no, to withdraw from entanglement can be to appear again in the world in a very real way and begin the process of renewing the primary essential invitation again…We withdraw not to disappear, but to find another ground from which to see; a solid ground from which to step, and from which to speak again, in a different way…”
Dealing with MCI has often felt like I’m disappearing—not in a physical way, but rather a cognitive one. I many times use the expression, “I’m losing me.” The me who was intelligent, witty, articulate, keeper of the family stories, engaging, competent, independent, confident, and social.
These days I avoid—withdraw—from crowds. There’s just too much going on for me: too much stimulus, noise, faces. But to paraphrase Whyte, I’m finding other grounds.
Nothing pleases me more than to socialize one-on-one, or to spend a weekend with my ‘safe’ group of college women, or to have dinner or see a movie with my family. Once a month our Circle of Women meet to discuss our spiritual connectedness: with one another, with those who share our planet, and with the unknowable Universe itself.
Next month Keith and I are taking our teenage granddaughter to California. Our itinerary avoids the cities and instead focuses on the State Parks to experience nature together and create lasting memories.
I’ve felt a bit of guilt over these various withdrawals, like I’m doing something wrong because socializing and staying engaged are repeated suggestions for possibly delaying dementia. But after this morning’s reading, I feel more sure than ever that this form of withdrawal is exactly right for me.
I’m trying to live in the present moment. I’m trying to avoid stressors and welcome the new ground of withdrawal which helps me cull what doesn’t serve me well and embrace and explore what gives me pleasure.