Every Day is Winter: Living the Groundhog Life
Apologies for the lack of posts lately. Among the things that no one ever prepares you for, I have found, through the better part of the last decade, that to get ahead in life, I’ve had to learn to become my own doctor, come to terms with my childhood trauma, PTSD, and dysfunctional family, AND realise that I probably should have followed through on my childhood ambition to become a lawyer.
It’s all knowledge that I’ve acquired through the baptism of fire. All these great obstacles are daunting, in addition to my efforts to become a published author. It’s a tall order for anyone, let alone for us souls who have to trudge on in spite of our limiting chronic illness.
Spoonies often refer to the “sloth life”, but I feel like I’m living the “groundhog life”.
Every day for the past few years, my declining health has forced me toward being almost completely homebound, and increasingly bed bound. It feels like I stumbled into a version of the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day.” It’s like waking up to the same Sonny and Cher song, “I Got You Babe”, every day, and no matter how hard I try to push against the tide, the song just keeps blaring day after day with little hope of an end in sight.
Phil tries every trick in the book to escape his personal purgatory—from learning piano, to kidnapping the groundhog, to attempting to off himself. I don’t particularly recommend any of these besides learning piano, but I do endorse finding your personal escape strategy.
For me as far back as I can remember, books have always been a constant source of escape. I have never been the gardening type, but I have found that I make a decent indoor mother of plants. And I have acquired a newfound sense of joy in cultivating plants on my window ledge that I’ve nursed into prosperity and the harvesting of baby plants. So much so, that our house may soon resemble something of an indoor jungle.
And, by happenstance and the recent heat we’ve had here in England, I accidentally stumbled into the world of naturally fermented ginger beer. It makes sense when you think of it and after doing a little research, I found ginger is rich in natural yeasts and probiotics so that when naturally fermented the health benefits are similar to that of kombucha.
While I can never bring myself to watch overly cheesy daytime television, I must confess that I’m probably on my third rewatch of the shows I enjoy most. But, I feel there’s only so many times I can rewatch beloved movies and series before I start feel a little brain dead.
Enter the realm of documentaries. Historical, political, musical—it’s all there for the taking and I’m totally on board. Although I must confess that I am growing weary of the unending supply of documentaries that contribute to the depersonalisation of women, that is the world of murder mystery documentaries.
Amidst all this, I’m soldiering on with attempts at better health by doing weekly oxygen chamber sessions. I’m working slowly and systematically, to get my GP on board by updating her about my health to try and erode the “me versus them” vibe they created when they declared me to be mentally ill, rather than physically ill. And I’m slowly toiling away at polishing the first draft of the novella I’ve written, inspired by my experience with chronic health.
I remain hopeful that I will soon summit the Mount Doom that has been my legal drama of the past seven years, to hold the executor of my late father’s estate accountable for their failures and the tangible harm and distress this has caused. The greatest of which has undoubtedly been being robbed of the opportunity to fully reconcile with my late father’s death. Because I had to put my grief aside in order to battle the dragons that are lawyers, who by nature and profession, cannot admit to failure even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
After all that has happened over the past few years, it is never far from my mind, how much life with a chronic illness is like living in a great organ grinding machine, where our societal value is that much more diminished by our inabilities. The demons and monsters that we are forced to fight against every day, make Phil’s struggle to become a better person and get the girl to escape Groundhog Day, look tame and mild by comparison.
But, and it’s a big BUT, I have also learned to find joy in repetition, positivity in discarding rather than consuming, strength in the struggle, a new understanding of how much I took for granted in the past—so that I have an increased sense of gratitude in the good that I have in my life.
As Phil says after his transformation “When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."
It is unjust that many of us are forced to live in a sort of permafrost, without acknowledgment or adequate support. However, we do have control over how we experience the bleak and dark winter, by choosing to foster and create our own light.
And it is out of this light, no matter how small, that propitious hope will always find a way to bloom and prosper.