For the past seven days we’ve been staying with Pauline’s sister and her husband in northern New Mexico. We arrived on a Wednesday morning, suddenly, after realizing that everywhere we had planned on camping between the Grand Canyon and here was going to hit 17 degrees F overnight. We have no heater in our van. We planned for warmth and hit a spring blizzard in Flagstaff.
So, we decided to drive late into the night and slept in a Walmart parking lot in Albuquerque (where it only hit 30 overnight), then booked it here early the next day. I promptly found a gorgeous yoga spot overlooking the canyon and spent the first afternoon catching up on my stretching and cooking some healthy soup.
Then, within 20 hours of arrival, I was throwing up and shitting at the same time every 30 minutes. I threw up so hard I pulled muscles in my ribs. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick. I’m grateful we were here with indoor plumbing and a toilet or I don’t know what I would have done. The leap-frogging, leaky-butt phase of the hell-plague lasted about 12 hours, then I spent about three days sleeping 24-7, followed by three more moving real slow and eating plain gluten-free pasta and rice in broth.
I tell you all this because being sick like this has brought a revelation: I’ve been feeling well for the last few months for the first time in years. As recently as November I was feeling much like I have the last few days of my recovery from the hell-plague: tired all the time, achy, diarrhea daily, sleeping most of the time.
Three weeks ago in Baja we had a magical experience: we went out on a tiny dinghy in the Laguna Ojo de Libre with six other people and three giant grey whales played with us. Pauline came within inches of touching one as it dove under our boat. I would swear it was teasing her.
I remember closing my eyes on the ride home after interacting with those magical creatures and feeling my lungs open up easily, freely. For the first time in that moment of stillness in the boat I noticed that, even in stressful moments (like driving Mexican roads!), for weeks I’d been experiencing an underlying peacefulness that I’d never felt before.
Pauline pointed something else out later that day that I hadn’t realized: I wasn’t afraid of all strange men anymore. Men that can only be described as super dudely-dudes (dirt-bike riders, motorcycle surfers, etc.) have been coming up to us and excitedly asking questions about our van and our trip for weeks. Since I’m the one that did all the build-out inside, I’m psyched and flattered anytime someone is curious about the van. I invite them to check it out and answer their questions. Pauline has been shocked and in awe of this change in me.
A year ago when I tentatively repeated the intention (they call it a sankalpa) “I am strong” for the first time during Yoga Nidra meditation I felt like a fraud. I didn’t know if I was doing it “right”. Even though I was the only person to hear me inside my own head, it felt wrong to say it, like somehow I would be found out. It felt uncomfortable to uncurl myself from my constant, protective slouch. My posture unconsciously protected my soft parts from the whole of the world.
I remember being in my room and hearing people talking loudly in the hallway when I had been in silence for several days and it was so jarring I had a major panic attack. I crawled into my closet and wrapped myself up in a blanket and took a Clonazepam and just rocked back and forth until I fell asleep on the floor. I could barely look people in the eye, let alone carry on a conversation, especially with men. I remember craving silence and solitude like it was water and I was dying of thirst.
Living in this van makes me feel competent and brave and strong. When I meditate and repeat the sankalpa “I am a goddess” or “I am a warrior queen” to myself I believe it. I find myself standing up tall and straight and feeling like I deserve it. I’m wearing close-fitting clothing and feeling beautiful, like it’s obvious that I am a sexy bitch. I’m not skinny, never have been, but I don’t give a shit anymore. My body is becoming a friend, even a lover. World better watch out.