Returned to Life with a New Perspective

Since March 13, I've been sick with and/or recovering from Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel SARS-COV-2 virus. I don't know where or how I got it, only that I ended up going through hell for eight months before finally getting to a point where I consider myself mostly recovered. I hesitate even to say that, because every time I've said it in the past I've relapsed. The long version of this disease, estimated now to effect as many as half of all people who get covid-19, is still being sorted out. Is it persistent living virus? Is it a post-viral syndrome like ME/CFS? Is it a new autoimmune disease? No one seems sure yet. And I'm tired of trying to figure it out.

Instead, I've tried to find the positive in being this sick for this long, in coming so close to death so many times, in losing the person I thought I was, and having to accept this new version of me. The positive, for me, has come from having all of the artificial, egoic layers of my existence stripped away; in touching the true center of my soul and being, that part of me that is indestructible even by death; in truly seeing that all of us, all sentient living beings, are on the same journey, and that journey involves pain, suffering and loss, eventually. From this tender realization has come a desire to spend whatever remaining days I have left on this earth in pursuit of kindness, beauty, patience, balance. So much of my life had become a tangle of dysfunction, pain and sorrow, even before this illness. The speed and the snark of social media, the quick adulation that came with cancel culture, the immediate fix of "likes," all of it, now, seeming more and more like insanity to me.

Life is too precious and too short to spend one second of it fighting, hating, complaining, hurting, lashing out, seeking revenge. I wasted so much energy doing that. This illness, mercifully, has drained from me any desire to do so anymore. The strong opinions, the endless tilting at windmills, was all ego. Profound illness and loss strip all that away, until you are left looking out at the world with the eyes of your true and essential self.

I deleted my twitter account this week, and will be removing my Instagram account as soon as I figure out how. I'm keeping my facebook account for now, only because it is the only way I have to keep up with actual friends and family, but I am limiting my use of it to one post a week, unless it is to post a link to a blog I've written. I do this to slow down, to reconnect with real life. Before my illness, I'd hike or trail run in this ever more dissociated state, where I was no longer seeing my life through my own eyes, but through the hypothetical eyes of my "followers." This is not a life. It is certainly not a good life for someone trying to recover from Borderline Personality Disorder. It is not good for me, and I know that very clearly now. My energy, before this illness, was powerful, but very negative. It is exhausting to live that way. I cannot do it anymore.

This week, absent the distraction of social media, I have found myself both anxious, as I detox from it, and also more grounded, and more creative and productive. Social media can, for creative artists, provide a sort of false instant gratification, emotionally, that robs us of the impetus towards making art. It feels good to be at peace, to be grateful to be alive, to have reconnected with the simple soul I was when I was born, to shed the skins of ego, anger, artifice and pain, to accept, to let go, to just Be. This is the blessing of pain, of suffering, if we allow it - it reminds us that we are all on this same short journey, and our job here is, quite simply, to love.

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