08 Mar

The Price of Your Gift: part 1

SW_Ian Dennis

“The price of your gift is discipline.” I heard a voice say, somewhere. The telephone line crackled a bit as I took that it.

I hadn’t, until that exact moment, heard much of the conversation being, as I was, completely enrolled in my story of victimhood and the shit circumstances I currently found myself in.

I had called my good friend out of desperation. For weeks I felt myself slowly slip down the grease lined slope of my despair as I battled another back injury that had effectively sidelined me from my life. The most confounding fact of my predicament was that everything had been unfolding for me in perfect timing.

Over the previous summer, I had taken a summer contract in Texas. Since the job entailed a rigorous physical regime I had committed t exercising and improving my body, mind and spirit; firstly, as a strategy to simply survive the gig, but my small efforts over time started to yield results that I had earlier thought out of reach. I was mediating every morning – giving thanks for what my life already is while focusing on a possible outcome that would shift my trajectory of prosperity and vitality by owning it in the now. Then I put my words into action by exercising, visiting my chiropractor twice a week, eating a clean Keto diet and writing 800 words every day.

In six months I had lost 35 pounds, finished my third book and completed my contract. Back at home, I was feeling fine. So fine, in fact, that without any perceptible pain in my body, I thought I was in the clear. Maybe the trauma that my body had held so tightly had been exercised, massaged or nurtured out. Maybe I just kidded myself that the practice that I had created was no longer needed. I still meditated every morning, but my writing gave way to a new project: getting ready to do my first proper presentation on someone else’s stage, pitching a program that I had recently, but no completely created.

I forgot to exercise, neglected my monthly massage and kidded myself that I could forestall my guilty pleasure of sitting in the hot tub or languishing in the float tank downtown. I had a lot to prepare for, after all.

In the end, the presentation went well enough, and even had some people take my up on my offer for my new program which focused on radical self-responsibility and self-nurture. Everything, as they say, was going swimmingly.

That is, until the day before Thanksgiving when, with the imminent arrival of my in-laws to our new home, I cleaned out the basement and piled everything into the garage so that the local workman could strip the walls of the rotten peg board. We wanted to remediate the mold that was a persistent pest to our sinuses.

Several days later, complaining of back pain, my kind wife suggested that she give me a proper massage. After about fifteen minutes, I rolled off the table, fell onto the floor into a fetal position, compressed with an intense pain I had not know since before my second back surgery ten years previously. From there, things only got worse.

The specter of going back on opioids to manage the pain left me in panic. When Jennifer asked me if I was scared of taking them again, I could only nod though my tears. “Why?” she asked. “Because I won’t want to stop taking them.” I choked out. After a 5-year stint riding the Percocet Express before and after my last surgery, I had been to that movie and I knew too damn well how that turned out. Once off of them, I promised myself that I would never let things get so bad again.

Jennifer generously took on the task of delivering the second webinar in my program as I listened to her presentation laying on the couch, feeling like a failure.

After several appointments with doctors and specialists resulted in a progressive plan of care ultimately ending with surgery should I not respond appropriately. It was slow going: hours spread out on the couch, unable to do much expect exhaust the Netflix library of progressively more depressing films followed by short twenty-minute bursts of productivity in the office or the kitchen doing something, anything to feel like I was of value in our partnership. It was bad enough that I couldn’t produce a revenue flow, but there was something I couldn’t quite swallow with ease when Jennifer would say, “Adam, you’re only job is to do you. Heal yourself. I’ll take care of everything else.” I would reply with a pained smile, “Thank you.” Her generosity and perception was only eclipsed by my resistance to the assistance she was offering. It should have made me feel better, but somehow it made me feel more diminished: Adam, lessened.

I knew it was my own ego bullshit, built from years of masculine indoctrination: what a man is supposed to be, how a real man is meant to act. Knowing where my conflict came from somehow did nothing to diminish my remorse. Painted into a corner, emotionally, I did the only thing I could think of before my current state of my head had me doing or saying something to someone I truly loved that I would regret for the rest of my life. I phoned a friend.

But not before struggling with the decision to do so. I already felt like a fraud leading a program about an aspect of living that I was so clearly failing at. I harbored the suspicion that the Universe was doing this to me on purpose. ‘You think you can teach this stuff, Adam? Maybe you should learn how to walk your talk before getting too big for your britches, son. Here take some of this and see if this doesn’t bring you down a peg or two.’ The contrast between what I knew was possible for my life and what was actually presenting was fucking painful.

I also struggled with my decision as to who to call. I hadn’t told anyone outside of the house what was going on with my health: not my kids, my mom or my other friends. Who, after all, wants to hear about me being in my shit? What would I expect from that admission? Some halfhearted commiseration or feigned interest in the particulars of my bowel movements? Give me a break; everyone is fighting battel all their own and have enough to worry about with me calling and looking for a shoulder to cry on. Especially if I was going to play the victim in this particular vignette; I didn’t need anyone else to help me collect any more evidence why this all sucks so fucking bad. I could carry my own water on this one, thank you very much. GPK had fought and beaten cancer twice, his life was on fire, purpose focused and living large. Even though I didn’t want to burden him with my bullshit conversation, I knew that his frequency was higher than mine right now and he could assist me. Not that Jennifer couldn’t; she had been a great help but our entanglement as lovers came with certain fears – hers of being left alone, mine of being controlled – made for a complicated dance. Unbiased clarity was what I was in deep need for now.

GPK still hadn’t said anything. He waited patiently on the other end of the line until the 2X4 of conscious awakening has connected with my skull, just in back of left ear. The reverberations of what he said were still ringing in my skull when I blurted out in my confusion, “My gift? What?”  I wasn’t aware that I had any special gifts, superpowers of abilities like other thought leaders, shamans or sages.

“Your life is your gift, man”

To be continued: you better fucking believe it.

Also published on Medium.

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