Going Down

I Fell In A Hole. I'm Climbing Out.

Friends, what follows is a discussion of some medical issues. If, for your own self-care, you need to not be witness (even in writing) to someone else’s medical challenges, it’s okay. Take care of you. XO, Asha


In about two and a half hours a doctor is going to stick a camera down my throat on a long tube— through my esophagus, into my stomach, around in my upper intestine, and then back out again. Hopefully, this will allow them to diagnose why I am experiencing chronic deficiencies of certain vital nutrients and amino acids, which could have serious, long-term effects on my health.

They will sedate me in order to make it possible to stick this enormous tube down my throat. This is protocol, so it must be necessary for everyone, but it is definitely necessary for me. I have a hypersensitive gag reflex which is intimately tied to my anxiety level. This became apparent immediately after my ex-husband and I separated nearly nine years ago. I started spontaneously vomiting— on and off, all day, every day.

This went on for months. I lost 20 pounds in the first six weeks. The doctor put me on anti-anxiety meds, which calmed the spontaneous vomiting to once a day. That stuck around for over a year and a half; nearly the length of time it took me to finalize our divorce.

My therapist used to tell me that the vomiting made sense. I couldn’t digest the thing that was happening outside of me, so my body refused to digest anything inside of me; the macrocosm and microcosm of my life mirroring each other.

Luckily, following my most recent break-up, I only descended into non-digestible hell for a couple of weeks, so they won’t have to put me under completely to accomplish this pretty standard medical procedure. Still, I’ve never even been sedated (if you don’t count the anti-anxiety meds for those two years) or put under general anesthesia, both of which scare me.

I’m a little freaked out at the moment.


What do you do to work yourself out of an anxiety hole? Breathing should probably be the first thing, though it usually isn’t for me. I have to be reminded to ground down into my body, which is ironic considering this whole process of medical testing is about wanting to attend to the health of my body. [Sigh.]

Where I tend to go first to pull myself out of an anxiety hole is gratitude, which I was reminded of by my friend Martha, who I recently interviewed about that very thing. Martha is fantastic and smart. So, here are my gratitudes for today:

I am deeply grateful for my friend Suzanne. When the practice told me that I needed to bring someone with me to the procedure this morning because I wouldn’t be safe to drive afterward, I was initially sad and stumped. All I could think about was my recent break-up and that I no longer had a partner to depend on. But what must be done, must be done, so I screwed up my courage and asked. Suzanne didn’t skip a beat; she just said yes. And this morning, first thing, she texted me and reminded me to breathe. Thank you, thank you, All that is Holy, for Suzanne, who is loyal and smart and true.

I am deeply grateful for my friends, Carrie and Cat. They came all the way from Pennsylvania and Ohio just to spend a couple of nights and a day with me this past weekend. They have known me since I was fifteen, and have always felt I was great as exactly the one I am. We will likely as not grow old together, puttering around a little farm somewhere. Carrie cooks and bakes beautifully. Cat can make anything grow outside. I’ll mind the house plants and make things beautiful. To know, no matter what, that likely collective future is waiting for me makes everything else less dire. Thank you, thank you, All that is Holy, for old friends who are a forever home.

I am deeply grateful for my house and my cats. My house was waiting to enfold me when I returned from the day’s drive to Pennsylvania, and my cats forgave me for bringing dogs into the house for the weekend. I felt safe, contained, and accompanied in all my overwhelm, which is no small thing. Thank you, thank you, All that is Holy, for my home, which holds me.

I am deeply grateful for this body of mine, even as she ages and confounds me. She has gotten me this far faithfully, even though I have barely been able to stay inside her for years at a time. She is a good walking body, a good hugging body, and a good loving body. Later I’ll try and take her for a ramble by the lake to show my appreciation and let her stretch her legs. She loves that. Thank you, thank you, All that is Holy, for this body, which carries me faithfully.


What does all of this have to do with this long, rambling conversation we’re having about integrity? It is simply this:

Our real lives— authentic, imperfect, full of unknowns— are the reality we’re dealing with. They are the daily practice ground for learning to show up and be with what is in a way that is consistent with our values. They are where we fortify ourselves and the people we love so that when big challenges arise we have the strength to stand our ground. The very fact that they are full of challenges is why they matter so much. Otherwise, how will we learn? And how will we ever appreciate the poignant sweetness of our joy?

I’m so grateful to be in this real life with you.

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Hey, loves. Can you share this with someone you care about? Or dip into the archives and share another favorite? I could sure use your help to spread the word. XO, Asha

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