When Things Fall Apart

When Things Fall Apart

One day, about two months ago, my “sweetheart’s” life changed abruptly ~ life as he knew it, life as we knew it. His body began a chaotic fight within. Symptom after symptom began showing up and he made various trips to Urgent Care centers. He doesn’t have a primary care doctor because he is normally so healthy and fit. The doctors they kept sending him home with “it’s just a virus” and there was “nothing” they can do. I have a love-hate relationship with doctors. Maybe it’s more accurate to say I don’t always trust in them. It’s complex, and some of that is from layers of complex trauma – my mother died from a sepsis infection in the hospital, a podiatrist screwed up a foot surgery for me, and on and on.

I was so scared that the doctors were missing looking deeper because this is so out of the ordinary for him! Rashes, intermittent fever day in day out for weeks (and still continuing), debilitating joint pain. A week ago he had some symptoms that I insisted he go back again to get checked — that voice within that knew it was serious, and long story short, it WAS serious and he was admitted to the hospital. Trust that inner voice. Trust that gut feeling. Go with it. Sometimes it is difficult to discern between what is over-worrying or what is a genuine concern. It’s important to really go deep within. Listen.

He was released from the hospital with no real answers yet other than ruling some things out. It looks like he may be experiencing autoimmune challenges and the ER doctor told him to see a specialist. (Still waiting for an appointment- argh!) An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes the immune-system misfire. (Source Autoimmune)

It’s been quite the emotional ordeal for me to see my beloved suffering and feeling so helpless in providing any ease. As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), and with my trauma being activated, and the normal worries of “what if’s” my nervous system has been in chaos! I’d like to say my mindfulness practices have helped, and they have to some degree, however, mindfulness also teaches us to be with whatever is arising, and the fact is, sometimes it feels like things are falling apart and we fall for a while. He has had some things under control and seems a bit more himself in the last few days so I am also feeling relieved and better able to re-focus on my work and my own self-care. I’ve had to let go of some planned things and I may have to do some more and hopefully people will understand. Some won’t – I’ve already disappointed some people.

What I’ve been reminded of in these past two very long months is that things are impermanent and no matter how hard we fight to keep things the same, the fight is what creates the tension and struggle in our lives. Whether we are talking about the weather, or our feelings, or our health, or our relationships, things change. They just do. And to fight this reality is to create our own suffering. And so I realized I can still share a sunset with my beloved and if he is unable to open his eyes because he is in pain, I can take it in for him and send him my warm wishes. I can still pour a cup of tea for him and we can feel the warmth of the mug on our hands, and sip the healing ingredients, I can still laugh with children at school, and I can cry my tears as I go out the door hoping he will be ok on his own while I work.

I also realized that gratitude is an essential elixir – in fact he was the one to say “you know, I can’t complain – I have had a very good, active life and I just may need to make some adjustments but I’ll be alright.” He has been asking me for help with mindfulness and meditation, something he hasn’t done in the past, so I get to share my passion with him and feel like I can be helpful after all. I am currently training in Subtle® Yoga — Subtle Yoga is a sustainable yoga practice that adapts to varying needs depending on your health, lifestyle, age and energy. It’s therapeutic and balancing with postures that are accessible and adaptable. I also recently finished my Restorative Yoga training ~  the timing couldn’t be any more serendipitous. These will be so perfect for him. And for me.

Learn more >>> Slow Yoga for Resilience

In a book I read years ago, “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times”, Pema Chödrön writes:

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”

And in another book I have, “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness”, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes:

“Catastrophe here does not mean disaster. Rather it means the poignant enormity of our life experience. It includes crises and disaster but also all the little things that go wrong and that add up. The phrase reminds us that life is always in flux, that everything we think is permanent is actually only temporary and constantly changing. This includes our ideas, our opinions, our relationships, our jobs, our possessions, our creations, our bodies, everything.”

He also tells us

“We all have limitations. They are worth befriending. They teach us a lot. They can show us what we most need to pay attention to and honor. They become our cutting edge for learning and growing and gentling ourselves into the present moment as it is.”

If it feels like your life is falling apart, may your day be blessed with many mindful moments of joy and full catastrophe living! Don’t hesitate to reach out for help! That’s what I train to do, even as I journey through my own challenges.


Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

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