Today has been one of those “glimpses of spring” days and I took myself off with a friend to Bantham Beach, over near Kingsbridge. It was glorious – tide going out, oystercatchers and wagtails abounding in the rock pools, an almost empty beach and enough wind for a good surf. Outings like this are a gift, especially on a Monday!
When I last wrote a blog I was enjoying early autumn sun after a walk along the Dart upstream at Newbridge. That was 18 months ago. Since then, Retreat by the Dart opened briefly last March and closed again soon after, during a very difficult time health wise. Led down the ME path in the NHS scheme of things, I arrived at September 2018 feeling like I was not making any inroads into further recovery. It seemed that every complementary therapy had a similar pattern of a boost and then slow regression. I was treading water, and feeling very low.
I sat down one day to consider my options. As synchronicity would have it I was emailing with my accountant and she then put me in touch with someone who’d recovered from Lyme Disease through a clinic in Germany. It didn’t take much to get me on the phone to make an appointment. I visited the clinic with a friend in November and had an armful of blood taken. Tests showed Lyme bacteria still present along with 2 other “co-infection” bacteria and the Epstein Barr Virus (probably picked up because of a low immune system, it’s notable for causing glandular fever and likely to have caused my chronic fatigue). Treatment started early December – 2 antibiotics and a lot of supplements, and I’m now in my 3rd month of a 5 month programme. Recent re-testing showed a big improvement in my immune system, a lowering of the EBV but still plenty of evidence of the bacteria. So there’s a way to go.
But the good news is that my energy has improved substantially – it’s not what I’d call “normal” but it’s a good enough improvement to make me feel hopeful, able to take on more activity on a daily basis, and with greater mental clarity. The uplift has been enough to feel able to welcome guests to the retreat spaces again. I knew I needed to write a blog at the very least to make that public. But what was going on at a deeper level has eluded me until this past weekend.
The simple truth is that I’ve come to a very deep and solid acceptance of my situation. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about recovery, or am indifferent to it happening. There is a subtlety to it, a kind of thin line I’ve sliced through to see that it is akin to equanimity, to saying “this is how it is, and it’s ok”. A friend sent me a book about 6 months ago called ‘Living Beyond Lyme” – essentially it’s a book about a form of therapy called “ACT” – acceptance and commitment therapy. I didn’t read it (just the chapter headings!) and one quote stands out, “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.” This is by Michael Fox the actor who was struck down by Parkinson’s disease at a very early age.
I’ve had some very dark moments over the past 3 and a half years – angry, frustrated, depressed and feeling powerless with a situation that seemed to offer no “way through”. I don’t know why I didn’t find the clinic sooner, but now I don’t need to know. I don’t know if I will fully recover, but that is ok, what is happening now is “good enough”. Whilst all the “dark matter” has been swirling around, underneath a deep pool or river has been flowing which I’ve only recently tapped into, and which has helped me to find that place of peace in myself.
The final moment of clarity came listening to “The Forsytes” on Audible – a long family saga that I watched 50 years ago with my mum on tv, but which I’ve enjoyed just as much as an audio dramatisation in my resting moments. One anguished character called Wilfred has abandoned his love, Dinny and gone exploring in the East. He writes back to her much later to tell her he’s found peace at last. She ponders this by a lakeside. “Sitting by that pond on that summer afternoon Dinny finds something that all of us must find at some point or another – not peace, not quite that – acceptance perhaps (she says) – is that what you meant Wilfred?”
It’s taken 3 and a half years to reach this point, and I really don’t mind about being such a slow learner, it seems some things need a long time to germinate and grow into something strong and identifiable. Our culture wants everything to happen quickly, the Spirit takes her time.