Lurking Beneath

‘So what’s going on in your life?’

The Doctor’s question gave me pause. Or maybe I was still stunned by the diagnosis she’d just delivered: shingles.

Well, I suppose work is stressful. That’s what I told her – the easy answer. I have been very busy. But it’s a job I’ve done for 20 years and still enjoy. I mean it’s books¬†I sell. And I’ve actually been taking a fair amount of time off. No, I don’t think it’s really just work-stress that triggered this weird virus to emerge from dormancy more than 50 years after chickenpox ravaged my little body with excruciating sores and scabs I couldn’t resist ripping to bloody shreds.

I love that my Doctor asked me this question. Always up for a metaphor, I’ve pondered during this past uncomfortable week, what IS going on in my life – while wincing from stabbing pains, flinching from any touch to the affected skin, strangely on fire. What in my life awakened this virus in me now? What do I need to be attending to? Is it my subconscious screaming at me – too long ignored as I busily go about my life.

Two friends and I recently coordinated our first community building story-telling project a la The Moth, with the idea of strengthening ties in our very neighborhood-centric city. The first one, held last week, was a great hit with so many inspired to share personal stories with more than 50 strangers, that we ran out of time to accommodate them all.The power and joy of sharing stories was apparent in that beautiful space on a summer evening. Every one there was attentive and moved. Jennifer, Judith and I were elated and are planning the next for October. I did not tell a story.

I have long reaped the psychological benefit of telling stories, yet since I began purposefully writing, I have never felt so far off-track as now. I have lost my personal creative practice.

‘What’s going on in your life?’ That question. Are these stories, my own stories, that I’m not listening to – making my skin crawl and ooze? I need to dig deep, dive beneath to uncover what’s there — including toxins that have laid me low.

If I’m not carving out enough time to be contemplative and creative, I begin to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. That’s a message I’ve felt before but never has it manifested itself in such an excruciating way. Community storytelling is brilliant and I’m excited about it. I feel passionate about the importance of gathering people to listen to each other – a small local gesture against the nasty forces of this time. But I also need to heed my own hollering nerves with roots deep beneath childhood scabs. Write, sculpt, paint – get up and tell a story – it doesn’t matter. What matters is to pay attention to my heart and soul – below the surface where endless untold stories and viruses linger for life.

PS: I’d get the vaccine!

14 thoughts on “Lurking Beneath”

  1. Oh Tricia- I feel for you! Adam Gopnik has a possible remedy. You can listen to him talk about it here
    And if that doesn’t work Google his name, BBC Radio and shingles. In the meantime, I found writing and digging deep helped me deal with sciatica which is another form of nerve pain… it will get better

  2. Wow! Love reading your blog when I get the chance to…. feel better, let me know if u need anything!

  3. How the body and mind are connected! We do need to listen to our bodies, and to our souls, and to carve out time to just sit with ourselves and be. A great reminder. Wonderful post.

  4. Yes % on track with that! Love you Tricia, sorry that you are suffering though! Try some big laughs! X Jen

  5. So sorry to hear this, Tricia. Perhaps writing some fiction far away from your own life would offer some psychological relief.

  6. Tricia I love reading your blog it sounds like my life. God has a way to chill us out on his time. We can run from our problems but time comes when we have to sit down and face the music. So take time time out to smell the roses. Love, Joyce SVA

  7. Oh Tricia! Brutal!!! I am so sorry you are going through this. What a loud and painful message from your body to you! I had shingles years ago and I couldn’t wait to get the vaccine once I hit 60. I hope you are finding ways to keep comfortable….and to make the adjustments your subconscious is urging you to make! XXOO

  8. The body doesn’t lie. It tells us so many things about ourselves and the world around us. It’s good that you are listening for clues. They are there. Hope you get better soon.

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