First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on December 1st, 2021 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/leave-if-only-behind-and-live-in-the-moment
Cold weather is the perfect time to make soup, I thought to myself. I pulled out a medium-sized pot and placed it on the stove as I went searching for a few other ingredients.
Red lentil soup is one of my favourite homemade soups to make. I always top it with a swirl of pepper oil or a dollop of yogurt. This time I added a teaspoon of garam masala for more flavour.
My dad and mom came into the kitchen as the aroma of onions and carrots filled the room. I was caramelizing them in the pot. When I almost bumped into my dad, he gave me a hug. And then my mom gave me a squeeze as she took a plate from the cupboard.
The warm kitchen became smaller with so many of us in it. I didn’t mind the company though. I am at home recovering. I was in the hospital for a time after a recent episode of psychosis and mania.
My brain needs hugs as much as I do. It is sensitive to ongoing stress. New medications are taking time to work and helping me find equilibrium again. I keep reminding myself that everything is going to be okay. All things work together for good for those who love God.
When I first got sick and hospitalized at 17 years old, my family was there for me too. They are like strong trees rooted around me, offering me the care I need. When strong winds come, and they do come, I have learned to bend and sway and lean on the prayers and support of my family.
In my parents’ living room, pictures hang on an accent wall. In one there is a cluster of tall trees together, and a few other paintings show trees on their own. One scene is in a storm, and another is by a quiet lakeshore. I have come to love this set of paintings. They are loving reminders of who I have surrounding me. Through all kinds of weather, I have a resilient, caring, and compassionate family.
When I met Margaret Trudeau, the former wife of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, at a Vancouver hotel, she asked me a question. “Isn’t accepting your illness the hardest part?”
I immediately agreed with her.
That evening she shared her story of coming to terms with bipolar disorder in her own life. It was a tremendous struggle for her to accept, which ended with hope. I wanted to hear her speak after reading her memoir Changing my Mind.
When I am having a blah kind of day, I remember that this will pass and that there’s always a new day. It’s at times like this that I notice grief is wanting my attention. I never expected my life to be this way. So many twists and turns and uncomfortable side effects to medicine. I grieve, wondering what my life would have been like without mental illness.
This is when I take a deep breath and accept that I have an illness and that’s okay. Grieving is also a necessary thing to do. I don’t want to bury my feelings anymore, and so I find natural ways to let my emotions out in a healthy way.
I read the lives of the saints, especially St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Josemaria Escriva.
St. Josemaria Escriva writes about the love for the present moment in his homily “Passionately Loving the World.”
There he advises, “Leave behind false idealisms, fantasies, and what I usually call ‘mystical wishful thinking’: If only I hadn’t married; if only I had a different job or degree; if only I were in better health; if only I were younger; if only I were older. Instead, turn to the most material and immediate reality, which is where you’ll find the Lord.”
Finding Jesus in the little moments of the day is the journey I am on. My life turned upside down at the end of summer, and I had to find peace in the turmoil. If I think about the past I get depressed and if I think about the future I become anxious. So appreciating the moment has become my best step forward.
As I heal and care for my mind, body, and soul I am mindful of how I feel throughout the day. Grief sometimes shows up too. A bowl of hot homemade soup feeds the body well. Family and friends bring necessary companionship. And with Jesus’ love and protection, I can handle anything.
Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.
“Leave behind false idealisms, fantasies, and what I usually call ‘mystical wishful thinking’: If only I hadn’t married; if only I had a different job or degree; if only I were in better health; if only I were younger; if only I were older. Instead, turn to the most material and immediate reality, which is where you’ll find the Lord.”From St. Josemaria Escriva’s homily Passionately loving the World