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My Funny Valentine – a diaversary post

February 14, 2011

It seems trendy to dislike Valentine’s Day. So often it’s discarded as a giant marketing ploy and relationship boobie-trap of a calendar date. But I actually like Valentine’s Day. Like any holiday, it’s a nice excuse to do things extra-special. I’ve had some wonderfully romantic V-days with partners past. I think back on them fondly. It’s not a bad holiday.

Today is Valentine’s Day, but it’s also my nine-month diaversary. That is, it’s been nine whole months since I was DIAgnosed with DIAbetes. Nine whole months!

Though I am single right now, and have been since the summer, I am certainly “involved.” This Valentine’s Day I’m tending to my own very intimate, life-long relationship. One might even call it a marriage. Diabetes isn’t exactly the ideal partner, but he’s sure constant as hell. And we seem to be getting through things, learning lots about each other along the way.

No marriage is perfect. D and I are doing our best.

~

On April 21st, I picked up a book in a beautiful second-hand bookstore in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called The Pregnant Virgin. It’s written by Marion Woodman, a brilliant, semi-cultish Jungian analyst in Toronto who writes about women and the feminine unconscious.

I read one of her books five years ago. Actually, I started to read it. The first hundred pages blew my mind. Every word was about me. Then half-way through, something scary happened. I was sitting there reading at a Toronto coffee shop, when it dawned on me: if I turn this page, I am going to learn so much more about myself than I’m comfortable with, that my whole world will just fall apart. I closed the book.

It was too late though. Within two months my boyfriend and I broke up, I moved cities, and then started a long, painful and wonderful journey away from academia and towards music and creative writing.

So when I saw A Pregnant Virgin in that bookstore almost 10 months ago, I knew I had to read it. I was in a strong and joyous place in my life, and open to a life-changing read. I poured through it on my plane ride home to Montreal that same day, April 21st, knowing more with every page that this book had synchronistically been brought to me.

The very next day, my vision started getting blurry. A week later, the fatigue began. Within less than a month, I was giving myself four shots of insulin a day and burning through test strips.

There’s no way of knowing for sure, but I’m quite certain that was the last day my pancreas produced enough insulin on its own.

~

In A Pregnant Virgin, Woodman likens the process of birthing one’s consciousness to a nine-month gestational period. Creative processes of any kind, she posits, often take nine months from germination to fruition. Her own experience writing that book, she said, took nine months, and in the first two she suffered regular morning sickness. “I feared miscarriage,” she writes.

The same is true with the birthing of the self. In Jungian speak, the coming-to-consciousness of the self can be a long and painful process when we’re negotiating all the social roles we expect ourselves to play. Becoming conscious is hard. Transformation is hard. Change is hard. We often need to go deep into a chrysalis, or a womb, and experience transformation in the safety and grace of a private container. Sometimes, to become the self we know we are, we just need to withdraw.

My life changed more than I was expecting it to after reading this book – something I now call the Marion Woodman curse. Within two months, my boyfriend and I broke up, my pancreas punked out, and I lost my job. If ever there was a time I needed to go deep into the womb of transformation, it was now.

So since discovering this book, “nine months” has become a significant milestone. I treat it with the same big-dealness as a six month or one year. Today’s nine month anniversary is meaningful. That it lands on the International Day or Romance is, well, something to think about I guess.

~

I don’t have to ask Diabetes to Be My Valentine. Diabetes is mine, and I am his. Rise up, my love, my fair one – but just don’t “rise up” my blood glucose. You’re the last thing I think about before I fall asleep (bedtime check) and the first thing I see when I awake (pre-breakfast reading and Lantus shot!).

To quote the great Fiddler on the Roof song, “if that’s not love, what is?”

~

Nine months, and my diabetes feels ready to come out of the womb. Nine months, and I’m growing more confident in my control, and less terrified of mucking something up. I’ve done things like go on a shortish run without any emergency glucose. I’ve gone an entire evening of drinking wine and nibbling on cheese without bothering to test. I’m not saying these are totally responsible activities, but it shows I’m relaxing more into life with diabetes. “Diabetic” is occupying a more proportionate piece of my identity pie-chart. Nine months, and I’m exactly where I need to be.

~

So what will I do for my Valentine this 14th of February? Well, I sure won’t treat us to fancy chocolates. My romantic gesture may look more like a long run with extra testing. I’ll buy us flowers. I’ll thank diabetes for teaching me important lessons. If I’m lucky, diabetes will take a hint and treat me extra special today too (no surprises, please…).

If I’ve learned one thing about relationships over the years, it’s that success equals sacrifice. If two partners put each other first, they’re both bound to come out as winners. I’ll hope that, by looking out for diabetes, my diabetes will look out for me.

Happy Diaversary, and thanks for being my Valentine.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Katherine permalink
    February 16, 2011 12:21 pm

    You really felt that way about a book? Like if you turned the page you would have an unwanted life-changing epiphany? Wow! I think I need to read it.
    I love you Sarah!

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