When I was a young girl, my mother told me a story from her childhood about becoming quite ill with dehydration one summer. Her caregivers gave her a tiny cup of juice every 30 minutes, and she described how torturous it felt. She was dangerously dehydrated but the last thing she wanted was to drink. I remember being completely flummoxed by this story. Why would this happen? Why didn’t she want to drink the juice? How could something so simple and curative feel so hard?
Last week I had a revelation about this dehydration and juice thing, in the middle of a session with a client, where this story of the cups of juice became a perfect metaphor for a universal struggle. We resist our cure, not to be difficult, but because when we’re suffering, the antidote is often the most unappealing thing we can imagine.
Cups of juice. We just need to get them and drink them. We don’t need to believe that we’ll feel better in the moment, or expect that we’ll actually want the juice even though every cell in our body is parched.
Maybe we could even have some juice on hand— at the ready—so we don’t have to work so hard when our circumstances get rough or our thoughts grow dark.
When we are struggling in small or big ways, we expect to be overjoyed to find a solution - like a drowning person would be about receiving a life ring. How freeing to realize that’s not necessarily the case. We have to hold our noses and drink the juice, not feeling saved at all, trusting that our relief may come later.
What area of your life is feeling like dehydration? It might be tricky - you won’t always feel the symptoms of dehydration coming on, so you need to get still and listen.
Are you missing time for you while you take care of everyone else? Are you putting off something important that feels too hard or too scary? Is your mind producing thoughts that are mean and judgmental? Are you avoiding exercise or bingeing on crappy food? Are you ignoring your clutter piles? Are you hesitating to address important issues in your relationship?
What cup of juice might help, even though it initially feels better to be distracted by your phone, extra activities, bingeing on Netflix or avoidance napping?
Is it a walk outside? Making the phone call? Sitting down to write? Going shopping for some fruits and veggies? Throwing out the junk mail? Doing the bookkeeping? Meeting someone for that hard conversation?
Maybe it’s time to let yourself have some juice.