When Positive feels Negative

I tested positive for Covid-19 in January of this year.


There was an element of inevitability - my partner worked in a school providing support for key-worker children and we lived in an area with one of the highest rates of infection.


When it entered our household, I took it as a personal challenge not to contract it in the first place then, when I did, not to let it interfere with what I wanted to do.


Initially symptoms felt relatively mild - the smallest of coughs with occasional throat-clearing, a soreness in my chest, temperature fluctuation for about the day, but then there was the lethargy. So tired. A wave of exhaustion that didn't recede.


There was frustration which, at first, I thought was at it feeling unfair. 2020 held extended periods of cruelty and avoiding Covid had been listed as one of my 'achievements'. But, the more I felt into it, the more I realised it was disappointment and sadness.


I had been invaded.


As someone who went years without being sick, I now had the entity portrayed in the media entering my home and my body.


No matter how many people you are surrounded by, you can still feel isolated and this can be magnified by illness. Despite the knowledge that millions of others were encountering the virus, including my partner, it still felt like a very personal, separate experience.


Historically, I had a complex relationship with illness. As a child observing and experiencing how the attention it could bring was addictive, how this sometimes lead to hypochondria in order to feed that addiction - an unmet need to feel seen, cared for and loved. Potential for identification with illness, falling into the trap of believing that it's the only thing that can make us matter. And, those in my life whom I had witnessed making no attempt to heal and had been taken away from me.


It was a loaded and heavy area.


Part of me was scared that if I gave in, I would be taken away too - as if laying down to rest other than at bedtime meant I would never get up again. The way this belief manifested was for me to treat Covid-19 like a common cold - I had never let a cold get in the way of what I wanted to do. I switched into an unhealthy mode of rest-aversion.


Rest-aversion meant refusing to rest when it fell outside of schedule - self-care becoming robotic and when it felt convenient, not fully paying attention to the natural flow and cycles of my body, ignoring the availability of energy. Fear of illness had forced me into a mode where my attention to self-care became muted.


My partner modelled recovery perfectly - slept when he needed to sleep, completely stopped, fully allowing the process of the body's desire to heal to unfold . In stark contrast, I continued to attend online events, cook meals from scratch, pack my days with perceived productivity - I didn't want my home to become a miniaturised version of the outside world - a place of disruption, changed plans, cancellations.


Fear.


There was also the sense of responsibility to others. My work, the way I viewed my life in general, meant I felt a duty to tend to the needs of others, to show up in support of them. I was intermittently forgetting myself. It was also serving as a distraction from my vulnerability, my humanness.


What this showed me was that there was still work to do.

Care work.

Not work.

There was still Care to do.


Reflecting on this period, I realise I have been given an opportunity to deepen the relationship I have with my body.


Myself.


I recognise the need for compassion for my experience of illness and the limiting beliefs I had built up around it. Also, the importance of gratitude:


For being able to breathe without restriction or pain.

For my immune system coming to the rescue.

For how my body supports me when I sometimes forget to support it.


To show my appreciation, I promise to continue building my capacity to Care. For me.


It's not work, at the very least it's maintenance. Essential maintenance.


Wishing Only Love.


https://www.marissamccallam.com/work-with-me


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