I have been a big fan of yours ever since the first time I went through A Course In Miracles eight years ago. I have your tapes. I read your books. I even listened to almost every single episode of your year-long radio show back in 2008.
So I was thrilled to see that your latest workshop was available to purchase, and I bought it right away.
Everything was going along swimmingly until I got to Part 3, until you said what you said about the person who was suffering with Bi-Polar disease (an area that I know a little something about myself, like the way that the Pope is a little bit interested in religion.)
I expected you to have words of kindness, and acceptance, and compassion. But instead you said this:
“…you just have to realize that [people who are sick, people who have illnesses] are stuck at the level of illusion. They believe in the power of the disease MORE than they believe in the possibility of being healed.”
Oh: and the part about how we shouldn’t be taking any medicines because we are “participating in the casual use of anti-depressants“? Unbelievably hurtful too.
It’s really easy to view the body as “just a suit of clothes” that’s not real when it’s working fine and you’re not in constant pain.
But that really doesn’t work when you spend every day, and sometimes every moment of every day, for days and days and days in a row in constant, agonizing pain. Physical, or mental, or both.
When your illness has taken you away from your friends and family, and given them back a seriously ill parent, child, or spouse instead.
When you know that everyone is so worried about you, but there’s nothing any of them can really do for you.
When you miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, baby showers, and your nephew’s first birthday. And you know that you’ll be missing even more things and disappointing even more people in the future.
When you’re constantly faced with all the things that you used to be able to do, but that are just too hard for you now.
When you feel like you’re no longer contributing meaningfully to life, and feel like a giant burden instead.
When you have no idea from one hour to the next what you will or won’t be able to do, or what your pain will be like.
When someone asks, “So what did you do today?”, and your only answer is that you pretty much spent all day, and every single ounce of your inner reserves just holding your shit together and getting through the day. And knowing that they will never comprehend what an enormous, unbelievably amazing, superhuman feat that really is. That this is what we, the chronically ill, do every single day. This is our job, even though you never get a paycheck or any professional accolades in this line of work.
When you finally get one problem managed, and then two more spring up out of nowhere.
And when all you can feel is guilt over all of these things.
So I really don’t need you to hold the goddamn space for me to be able to “rise above the level of the physical body, beyond what our senses tell us to what we know to be true.”
I need you to say, “I’m so sorry.”
I need you to say, “How can I help you feel a little more comfortable.”
You talk about living in the holy instant, in this moment RIGHT NOW.
Well guess what, honey? THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE DO. All. Day. Long. Moment to moment. Breath by breath. Getting through.
We are not “stuck”.
We are not unenlightened.
We are not NOT trying hard enough to be better.
We are not part of a giant pharmaceutical conspiracy.
We. Are. Sick.
We. Are. In. Pain.
We are doing the very best we can. And our very best is pretty damn awesome.
So maybe, until you contract your chronic illness, or your mental health problem, or your constant, unrelenting pain that grinds you down to the bone and takes away the only life you’ve ever known, you could just stop talking about something you appear to know nothing about. And leave the interpretation of, and the meaning-making of, and the dealing with our illness to us.