jennifer d's blog Part 2


By Jennifer D

I lay between crisp sheets, in a comfortable bed, in a pastel room, in a stately old hotel overlooking Washington Circle in our nation's Capital, the District of Columbia, and I felt as if I might die any minute. My head pounded, I had to squint my eyes because of the glare, every muscle in my body ached. I was scared and feeling sorry for myself.

My business trip had been planned for months. But last week my son had been admitted to the hospital with Meningitis. He was quarantined, because the doctors weren't sure if his was the bacterial or viral form of the disease. We were allowed to visit him, but only from some distance, and we had to wear masks and gloves.

I had promised myself and my husband that I would cancel my trip if our son  were still in the hospital when I was scheduled to leave. Fortunately, the doctors declared him not to be contagious, and he had come home the day before. But now here I lay, apparently with symptoms of Meningitis, 3,000 miles from home. I was miserable.

Suddenly a voice inside my head asked, "Why have you started this day so differently from other days? Why haven't you said the Serenity Prayer? Why haven't you recited your daily affirmation?" I wanted to respond, "Because I'm sick, dammit!" But the stronger part of me prevailed. I said my prayer, emphasis on "courage to change the things I can." I thought, "There's a phone right here beside the bed. A couple of blocks away is one of the best hospitals in the country. If I have to, I can call for help." Then, somewhat calmed, I began to recite the affirmation I repeat each day:

I am healthy: in body, and mind, and spirit.

I enjoy the prosperity of loving family, caring friends, a comfortable home, and  fulfilling work.

I have sufficient time and energy for everything that is truly important to me.

I am deeply grateful for all these blessings.

I said aloud, "I am healthy ... yeah, right! Just look at me! I'm not healthy!"

As I thought about my physical health, I thought of my friend John who loved to dance, and whose right foot had recently been amputated. I thought of my friend Al who loved to read and who was rapidly going blind. I thought of my amazing friend Terry who--from his wheelchair--advocated eloquently, loudly and often for accessibility and who administered an important program to help people with disabilities. I immediately felt ridiculous about feeling so sorry for myself, I who occasionally got a cut or a bruise or, like today, some kind of annoying respiratory virus.

I went through the rest of my affirmation, giving each phrase a little more thought than I usually did, realizing with each point just how lucky I was. My use of the word "prosperity" was deliberate. I might not be able to afford a luxury car or a big fine home or even to go out to an expensive restaurant more than once a year. But what made me prosperous, made me rich, were the wonderful, loving people in my life, the personally rewarding work I was paid to do, the time to do volunteer service work as well as to sew, garden, read for pleasure, visit friends and family, attend various events.

I also took several minutes to reflect on how my 12-Step work had influenced my attitude, looking at the half-full glass, giving up worry and replacing it with faith. Yes, I really was healthy. And I felt enormously grateful for all the blessings in my life. I thought, "Easy does it." I was in Washington, DC for a one-day conference. It would begin in an hour and last until at least 5:00. Instead of thinking that I was too sick to attend, I thought, "How about if I take it one hour at a time? I'll check in with myself every hour to see how I feel, and then I'll decide if I continue for another hour or come back to bed in the hotel room."

When I checked how I was feeling at 9, at 10, and at 11, I decided to continue. At the noon break, I went upstairs and rested until the meeting reconvened. After my rest, I felt okay, and was able to make it to the end. I realized I felt much better about myself than I would have if I had succumbed to self-pity. I looked forward to making the flight home the next day, returning to work with helpful new information, but--most importantly--returning to my son who was still recuperating from a condition much worse than mine. I went home energized, feeling stronger, fortunate, very grateful ... affirmed.

Jennifer D.