Portraits from a July 2007 visit to an open house of The Gilbert Clinic in Maryland:Eileen Melia, Toni Marshall, and Elly Brosius, a rare instance of same time, same place.
by Elly Brosius, MS
Intersecting Stories about Affirmation Ministry Quilts and Meditations by Eileen Melia usually feature the quilts and writings with colorful photos and quotes. This one is more about the quilt maker and meditation writer, Eileen, and two leaders of a support group she joined to whom she gave quilts and writings. It brought to you by the letters M and E.
Eileen, Toni, Me, and ME
Eileen, Toni, and I have an uncommon condition in common. Much of the world refers to it simply as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME. Here in the USA, you see more ME/CFS. We each have our own expressions for it and of it. The myriad of names and the seemingly infinite ways it can affect a person are an ever evolving story for another day or blog.
We came to know one other mostly by phone, a few times in person, and some by e-mail. Each of us was too ill usually for the upright posture and stamina required by in person visits. With our heightened nervous system responses and sensitivities to lights, sounds, smells, foods, uprightness and stress, physical meeting was too risky to our precarious functioning. Read Chronic Fatigue Syndrome isn’t what you think it is – it’s much worse by Stephanie Land in a HuffPost Healthly Living blog for a March 2016 view on ME/CFS.
In ME, energy feels either non-existent, inaccessible, or unable to flow constructively, to varying degrees. That’s what it feels like to me. When some of us in the smaller support group using gratitude for healing committed to techniques and attitudes to support energy instead of depleting it, our lives got less scrappy, some symptoms even lessened. We are grateful for any miracles of relief like those. Many folks with our conditions only experience getting worse over time or being stuck.
If I were to design an art project for Eileen, Toni, and me, it would have an ME in the title to honor the ME condition in our journeys. Additionally I would highlight another ME, one that stands for Mother Energy. Noticing, nurturing, and celebrating the healing aspects of more unconditional mother energy is a key to ever ascending quality of lives.
“Dear Elly,” wrote Eileen starting the cover letter accompanying my In The Garden of Life quilt.
“This quilt is made with heartfelt admiration and appreciation for your staunch spirit which belies the multitude of physical challenges that CFS/ME, FM and OI presents. Your spirit is a testimony of your care and nurturance of others who are similarity afflicted.”
Not all mother energy is in an uncorrupted, able to help heal something state. Some mother energy smothers or otherwise creates new upsets or activates old wounds. Being at the ready point to heal our own mother energy and share the most whole version of it with others, Eileen, Toni, and I practice the ways of being more unconditional with each other. As we welcome more divine versions of Mother Energy in and through, our conditioning and our conditions have eased.
While I was blessed with a loving mother, an awesome godmother, supportive, fabulous aunts and friend of the family “aunts,” Eileen is a mother and godmother figure I accept into my life consciously as an adult. Toni offers me experienced mother wisdom and a person with whom to work out godmother and Mother God issues.
Eileen has more life experience than I, more job experience, more people experience, experience with kids and grandchildren. When she worked, she was a nurse, as my mother’s mother was. I feel a feminine, maternal, medicinally nurturing vibe with her. She doesn’t judge me. And, as she wasn’t responsible for physically raising me, we didn’t have to go through the tensions of testing boundaries.
Toni has an offspring just younger than I. Toni has more job and life experience. She shares and listens and laughs. We can laugh, cry, shout, cuss, and be honest about things never said aloud be. We can talk of things we never knew as motherly or sisterly in our experiences on the earth plane.
Eileen and Toni honor and support the mother figuring I do in phone calls and in the support group setting. They let me know how important it was for them to experience my watching over them and out for them when they joined the group.
Eileen sends childless me a Mother’s Day card every year and it just feels right, not ironic. She encourages me and thanks the mother in me. She sees beyond traditional definitions and she senses the motherly archetypes in play. Her greeting cards are an important piece of the affirmation ministry to me. When quilting is too demanding, we remind her the gifts of her cards are special and enough!
Doubled Over and Lifted Up
Frequently doubled over ill and dysfunctional though most don’t see or acknowledge it, we homebound women are taking the time and energy to value ourselves and each other as is and to value and our own and each other’s present gifts. That’s pretty special in the ME world. We notice how our gifts might not have been expressed the same way had we not had set-backs and must-sit-downs, need-to-lie-flats or else. The same sensitivities that kept us away from sounds, flickering lights, and perfumed parts of the world have unusual upsides critically needed in an often insensitive world. We’re doubled over, and we’re lifted up by what what down there and who we found who was also down and out.
For shifting a painful or high pressure symptom, one technique I came up with is saying “I welcome you” to it with panache. People roll their eyes until I explain how just like they like being heard, so do their symptoms. Symptoms are the body’s communication they have been played them down or ignored them completely. Even when complained about loudly and acknowledging something is wrong, a push through mentality and reality has been necessary.
Something is going on that needs observation and different attention. To coax out the information to change things, a big gesture or olive branch to the body might be required. What gets people to try it is when I give them permission to make the hurting sounds that go with the symptoms and use swear words if that helps. For example, “Iiiiiieee owwwww bleeping welllllcommmmmmme you.” Eileen reminds me my vocal demonstration on an Elly’s Gratitude Group (EGG) conference call was quite memorable and helped her do it and through it to eventual release and benefit.
In the EGG, we attempt to value acceptance of self and whatever’s happened. We are practicing living that acceptance, with gratitude. Physical weakness is an extraordinary fertile place for many kinds of strength to grow. Having to be more and more passive and accommodating to the body’s growing list of what feels like inadequacies can birth new creativity in coping.
When the mind’s ideas and the medical field’s, too, fall short on fixing, one has the option to learn more about heart, feeling, and healing. Receiving and accepting more of what is, as is, especially if one has been an over doer, an over helper, an over giver is vital for recovering energy. Receiving and accepting compliments and gifts in a wholesome way instead of in pieces, instead of with deflection can fill one enough to straighten up after being doubled over from pain or grief.
Eileen’s cards and quilts with meditations inform the chosen recipients about their capacity to receive. Can we accept her blanket approval with our blanket acceptance? Can we handle unconditional Mother Energy? Toni’s affirmation quilt is full of Serendipitous Graces; In the Garden of Life is where we find mine. Both have provided us rich material in answering those questions for ourselves thereby improving our ways of helping ourselves and others receive more. We give information for coping now, we give compliments for what has been managed so far, and we give encouragement that more relief is possible. Receivers take what they can or will. Eileen is playing an important part in Toni’s and my watching over others in the ways that we can, with ME, and with our particular Mother Energy.
©Elly Brosius, 2016. All rights reserved. Excerpting is allowed with credit and direction to original content. For full reprint permission, email@example.com. Photos by Elly Brosius and Toni Marshall.