I have been going nuts lately.

This is supposed to be a month where I am exploring the idea of taking joy in each moment. My husband and daughter are leaving on Friday for two weeks in England. I want to be immersed in mudita – lost in joy at their good fortune. Instead, I am terrified.

PaintingDue to multiple sclerosis, I am significantly disabled. I can’t get out of bed, get dressed, go to the bathroom, make food or do much else without the help of another person. I can independently use a computer or a TV, but that’s about it. I have the help of personal care attendants. While my husband is gone, someone will come in the morning to get me up and set for the day and someone will come in the evening to feed me and put me to bed. If everything goes smoothly, I will survive.

But what if it doesn’t? Chances are, I will still survive, but there may be discomfort, dismay and medical intervention involved. I am delighted that my husband and daughter can make the trip, but there is an underlying current of fear at being so entirely dependent on people who are less experienced with me and my body and don’t have the inventive problem-solving skills which come so easily to my husband.

I heard yesterday that fear is trying to keep me safe. Still, it bubbles in my stomach and tingles in my limbs in a discordant buzz to any reach for joy.

PaintingWhen I sat down to paint this morning, I painted joy first and then painted fear. I reached toward the dark colors, but this panicky fear is brighter than that.  Apple green went in amidst the gray and then a scarlet. I scratched my jangling nerves onto the surface with a stick.

Then I added the bright pink that I used when painting joy. Even a few dashes of it brightened the whole painting. Fear is still dominant, but even a little joy lightens the burden.