Coming Back to Myself

Darndest thing. I’ve been away. A very odd sort of journey. In the Land of Illness. It’s not a place I’ve been much in my eighty-eight years.

I should explain that at the tender ages of ten and eleven I was at summer camp–Desert Sun in Idyllwild, California. It was run by a marvelous family, all Christian Scientists. Every Wednesday night and Sunday morning there’d be a “Meeting,” and we campers could choose between the Christian Scientists’ meeting and the Non-Christian Scientists. I chose the former because all my counselors and my boyfriend, Corky Hammond, were there. The counselors were sterling young people mostly from Principia, a liberal arts college in Illinois with Christian Science “…the cornerstone of campus life.”* Every person involved with running the camp was, to me, a glorious human being.

Wednesday night meetings were devoted to people standing and bearing witness to the power of faith. One story has stuck: That very morning, Anna, our riding instructor, was thrown from her beloved horse. Her horse had been spooked by something, was rearing up, and as Anna lay on the ground, she was terrified the horse’s hooves would come crushing down on her head. “But I prayed and prayed, and sure enough Maya’s hooves didn’t come near and I was finally able to get up… My faith saved me.”

As it happened, my mother’s father was a practicing Christian Scientist and as a child Ma went to meetings with him. All her life she was non-religious but gave illness very short shrift–and lived to be one hundred. Between my mother and Desert Sun, the notion of “mind over matter” rubbed off on me. Served me well.

Until now.

Around the end of August, I was for some reason hit hard by an entity that totally knocked the wind out of my sails…I walked around for weeks under a black cloud…couldn’t escape it. Then came another blow, my husband’s potential illness…and then the massacre in Israel…

I fell into bed.

Now, in retrospect, it feels as though I went away. On a sort of journey of hiding. I could not find myself. Where was I? What had happened to me? Why did I want to be under the covers all the time? Where was my trademark energy?


My mind was gone too.

Thus I could hardly bring my blooey mind to bear over my wimpy matter.

Bill was a dream…got over the cough that had seemed life-threatening, took over the household for me…Cameron (fifteen-year-old grandson) pitched in…friends were immensely caring and helpful…Uschi (our German Shepherd daughter) came and sniffed and spoke sweet nothings to me.

After a couple of weeks, I was diagnosed by a doctor with “depression”–how embarrassing is that for a good Mind-Over-Matter girl?

When undiagnosed by another doctor, I was immensely relieved. It felt right. Depression didn’t fit. It had purely been helplessness, panic.

Panicked fearing what would happen when next I had a run-in with The One Who Put Me to Bed, I had a chat with an insightful family therapist, a man who has pulled Bill and me through a few knotholes.

Neil gave me the answers: “When you’re about to see them, first give yourself a good talking to” (as in “It’s not your problem, you can’t do anything about it, just relax and love them–“)… “Then deal with any insults with humor. When the shots come, just say, “Ouch! that stung!” or “Oh I should have worn my armor…”

My panic flew out the door.

That was Wednesday. Yesterday I was able to put together and mail off a long overdue New-Great-Granddaughter package with a shawl I’d knitted, a Suiseki stone, and three children’s books for grandson Samuel’s family. That felt wonderful.

Today is Saturday and for the first time in a month I walked our whole Uschi Morning Walk with Bill. The morning sun felt marvelous.

And here I am at my desk able to tell you about my bizarre journey.

Thank heaven I’m home again. The fear/panic/illness just clean fell away.

I’m Sylvia again.

Good to see you!

No intention of letting myself stray from home ever again.


*Wikipedia, accessed October 28, 2023.

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