Updated: Jul 9, 2022
For decades I was sick with chronic illness, diagnosed eventually as Lyme Disease after years of doctors shrugging off my failing health. I tried everything to heal, changing my diet, going through intense treatment for seven years with a doctor in another state. I just got worse. And one day my life changed because my body put on the brakes, and I ended up mostly paralyzed, barely breathing. I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called Guillaine-Barre, which attacked my nerves, causing searing pain and progressive paralysis. I couldn’t move, couldn’t make facial expressions. All I could do was face the fact that my body was refusing for me to continue on the way I had.
Lying in a hospital bed, I realized I had no choice but to face the emotional pain and trauma I had accumulated. I began a long dive into myself, to save my life. What I found was painful. I had dissociated from my body and from early experiences of abuse. My psyche had shut out the memories of it. And what I was left with didn’t make sense...not until I slowly began to remember what had happened to me in my young past.
Abuse is often a sneaky adversary in the mind of a child. It can get compartmentalized to maintain sanity. It can get justified in the recesses of the subconscious, creating unconscious beliefs about the self, creating a shame body that is unknowingly the target of self-hate. This was the web I found myself tangled in, and I felt helpless within my own body. But my ill health finally made sense. I discovered I hated my body for the unwanted attention I received. And my body knew it, even if my conscious mind was unaware. How can one heal the body when they secretly despise it and blame it for causing suffering? The answer is, one cannot. Not unless they can delve into the darkness and discover the unconscious beliefs that are held there. Not unless one heals the deep pain held in the cells of the body. And energetically it becomes necessary to repair boundaries and release the energies of shame and blame. They are toxic. Hating the self is toxic, and it is an indicator of a severe lack of self-compassion. We can hate ourselves for patterns we get stuck in, for self-defeating or harmful behaviors, for painful relationships that replay through our lives. But at the source of all of these things is unidentified deep pain and a strong need for compassion and self-love.
So for me, healing meant going all the way back to these traumatic experiences, remembering what I could in order to find understanding and compassion for the pure and innocent inner child within me. It meant learning how to love myself enough to see why these patterns were happening...to understand what I was meant to learn so the patterns could end and I could change my behaviors to what aligned with my wishes and true nature. What I found through all of this was that my true nature, like all of us, is love, joy and expansiveness. Slowly I remembered who I really am, and with each new revelation of the unconscious, with each painful understanding, came a new sense of freedom and lightness, as if I was peeling away layers of outmoded egoic false identity to allow my inner light to glow a little brighter.
I have gone into the darkness and come back to say that nothing about ourselves is as bad and scary as we may think: not the temper we may hide nor the secret abuses we once suffered. Living lives as human beings can be difficult, but if we awaken to the challenges we were each given, if we face our fears and grow beyond the limited identity we once accepted about ourselves, maybe even accessing the spiritual assistance that we are provided with, then we can transform our lives into beautiful tapestries of meaningful and authentic beauty. We can become healers for others just by being our most authentic selves. Freedom and joy are contagious, and we can plant seeds for it in the world just by discovering who we really are and being that unapologetically! This is the hero’s journey, my friends, and it is well worth it.
I wish now that I had understood this earlier, before my body had stopped me in my tracks. If I could have known then how buried trauma, emotions and beliefs can create such distortion and wreak such havoc, perhaps I would’ve listened more closely to my heart. But then, everything happens in perfect time. One thing is certain, it has become glaringly clear to me that our bodies and our health is an indicator of what is going on behind the scenes in our emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. For those of us who have been sick without relief, our bodies are giving us a gift, a wake-up call, an intervention. There is wisdom there for us if we can only listen for it and start asking questions within. We can heal ourselves.
I stopped treatment the day I got divorced. It was a leap of faith for me, and I was afraid. But in my heart I knew I would never heal unless I focused on healing my inner wounds. (Please note here that I am not recommending this choice to anyone else. Medical treatment is often necessary to maintain support for the body as we heal the other aspects of ourselves.) Had I not received medical treatment for Guillaine-Barre, I most certainly would have died before I had the chance to consider healing my inner self.
All of this is to say that pain is a teacher we can learn from and heal through if we recognize it as such. I know so many people now suffer from what is dubbed “auto-immune.” We are told by doctors that our bodies are hurting themselves when they have no explanation to fix our pain. But perhaps consider that it is a message from our bodies to look deeper. What are we missing? What aren’t we aware of internally? What beliefs do we hold subconsciously about our worth, our goodness, our lovability? What do we deny or reject about ourselves? There is treasure we can discover as we excavate our true selves from the confines of the identities we learn to hold onto. And that treasure is the authentic self. As we work to recognize this authenticity and to be that, we free ourselves to expand into our full potential. We tune into our natural intuition and creativity. We remember child-like joy. WE HEAL OURSELVES. The journey may be difficult, but it is worth it. We are all worth it.