Tag Archive | self-care

Did I Make Myself Sick?!

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Did I make myself sick?
This is a question that has always haunted me. And most recently it has resurfaced.

If we have the power to heal ourselves than the inverse must also be true… we have the power to make our bodies unwell. Right?
A week back, a dear friend was doing some energy work (Reiki) on me. During this session, she received messages from my body. This is not uncommon, and I generally find these messages very helpful.

This message was deep and powerful. My friend told me , “The reason your body is filled with so much sh*t is because you have held on to too many secrets from your youth. And by holding all of this in, it has accumulated in your body, therefore developing disease. It is time for you to speak your truth. To no longer be afraid of how it may affect other people, only to share your story. I feel that by sharing your entire truth, you will be helping many others who are struggling, silently, with similar experiences. This is your path, not only to help others, but also for clearing out all the ‘crap’ and getting well.”

I’ll admit at first this was empowering. All I had to do was write and then share, without fear, my experiences. A clear path to wellness was laid out for me!

And I did start writing. It was, and is, a freeing experience.

But I also started to think about the root of the message: by keeping these “secrets” (which for me surround years of sexual abuse at young ages; a fact my friend was not aware of, making the message all the more powerful), I had made myself sick.
That’s what it came down to. And I started to feel uncomfortable about this.

I shared a summary of this message in my monthly spiritual group. The theme was Desire; and I had written a free-floating thought poem…

“Desire, what do I desire?
A morning song without the rain
A day long reprieve from the pain
A skip, a jump, a roll in the hay
Unencumbered freedom from a body untamed…”

By the end, my desire had become simply for a life of feeling connected, “to know and be known” and towards “internal peace and love of self. To acceptance of Me; and every day I’m Here…”

But, this is the kicker: there was just one line in there that my fellow group members picked up on: “I have been told that I fore-chose this life…”

And they became incensed, on my behalf. Telling me not to take on someone else’s dogma as my own. That that would mean that all Jews murdered in concentration camps fore-chose that path, as well as other startling examples.

So I took both opposing views and sat, to develop my own.
I began to think of a young girl I know, just finishing her first year of preschool, and her almost third year of constant chemo for a rare form of cancer. And I thought, “How could a 2 year old fill her self with enough secrets to make herself sick? How could her story possibly be long enough yet, to tell, ridding her mind and spirit of this ‘baggage’, making her body well?”

Yes, I believe we all have the capabilities to make better choices for our spirits and bodies, to live from a mindset of wellness that leads to true physical wellness.

But there is also a huge component of our diseases that are out of our control. And if we get stuck in thinking, “Why am I not doing enough or the right thing to make myself well?” Along with, “What did I do wrong in my past to make myself ill?” It will only lead to a place of despair.

I have received many messages that I have the power to make myself well. But I do not believe that means I am meant to “fix myself” on my own!

It means a myriad of things: making the right choices for my body, through eating well and exercising; strengthing my circle of support with old and new friends, and accepting their help, without conditions; choosing a team of well-respected doctors who can guide me; doing just enough research to be informed without too much to fill up my head (we all know what I mean!); meditating and doing activities that lower my stress and pain levels; keeping my physical space free of clutter and my sleep space a place of renewal; taking time to laugh as well as cry; and so much more…

I also take time at least once a day to visualize a little army of worker elves marching through my body and fighting off my disease; sending it into Mother Earth to be cleansed, recycled and renewed into something beautiful and useful.

These are tools I think are helpful for any person…well- or dis-abled.

And, yes, I will continue to write my story. Just by being away from the blogging community, I have gotten “clogged up.” There is power in speaking one’s own truth, sharing it with others, and hearing their truth spoken back. This can only aid in the progress of my healing.

But can this, or myself, alone, “make myself well?” That’s a tall order! And all it makes me think is that I somehow made myself sick. And that’s a very isolating thought.

I, alone, can’t fight any of this.

That goes against My Dogma: It takes a village…. To keep the flame alive and pass it on.

I don’t know why I live a life filled with unpronounceable, rare illnesses. But that’s not my job to know or figure out either.

The only difference between me and that precious 4 year old girl is that I know I am sick where she does not (quite yet). Her attitude can teach me, and us all, a great lesson. She just lives each day as it comes. Feeling her feelings when they arrive, asking questions with out shame, playing when she feels like playing, resting when her body tells her it’s tired; and loving everything and everyone around her deeply, with natural childhood enthusiasm. Her disease is a part of her day, but it is not who she is.

She did not make herself sick, and the key to “making herself well” is already inside her: its by going forth one step at a time and not missing a beat when she has a chance to fully embrace and engage in the gifts of life that are in front of her!

It’s as simple as that. Not secrets, not truth telling, Just Living.

When Your Resilience Is Tested

Churchill going thr hell quote When your resilience is tested, where do you go? Who do you turn to? What well do you draw from?

There are times when life pushes back one too many times, and I think, “I Just Can’t Do This Anymore!” And… yet, I do. I keep getting back up and taking steps forward – even if they’re itty, bitty baby steps.

Do we all have resilience in reserve? And, if so, is it something we are born with?: Each of us granted a certain set amount of resilience from the universe. And when the well runs dry… well, the well runs dry. There is no overdraft protection on this account.

Or- is it more than that? A bank that receives deposits as much as it gives us the power to withdraw? Think of it like this: every time we experience a stumble in life, yet find the skills, tools and support to get back up and keep going, we remind our soul, the core of our existence, that we have the power, the determination, the inner strength – – the resilience to face the most difficult of circumstances and survive.  We deposit these resilient memories into our mind’s bank.

And “survival” isn’t always “pretty.” In fact, it can be pretty darn painful. Often, we come out of the experience sporting battle scars- – both the kinds that can be seen and the unseen variety.

I used to look at the criss-crossing roadmap that now constitutes me belly and feel pride. Each mark was another war wound – – a battle I had faced and conquered. For just the fact that I am alive today to tell of it = success. I need to remind myself of my Inner Warrior now and again.

Which brings me back to this Resilience Bank. Every memory, experience and story of survival adds to my well.

Personally, I think it is a combination: each of us is born with a certain amount of Resilience Reserve. Some of us may be granted more than others. Or, perhaps, we’re all granted the same amount, it’s just that each of us perceives this well differently. A half-full vs. half-empty kind of mentality. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s there, for each and every one of us. It’s what we do with it that matters.

As the old adage goes: “It doesn’t matter what happens to us in life, it matter how we react to it.”

“We are naturally resilient. We have the capacity for growth and positive adaption in spite of the constant barrrage of stress we all feel on a daily basis.” (excerpt from The Resilence Scale webpage).  Test your “Resilience Score” HERE.

But the most interesting and complexing thing about resilience is the stark fact that we actually have to experience strife and hardship in order to build it.

Think about that for a moment.

It worries me that we are so concerned with young children feeling worthy and successful, that we actually shield them from failure. The exact thing that creates self-reliance. Aren’t we actually doing a disservice to this younger generation?

Think back to some of the most monumental building blocks of your youth. Many of them are uncomfortable to relive. But, at the same time, they are also the experiences that shaped us and helped us to learn integrity, cooperation, self-reliance, perseverance, and resilience. We had to learn how to handle failure such as our team losing a game, or disappointment like when our 6th grade best friend decided to stop talking to us in 7th grade, or determination like when we got a poor grade on our report card because we had slacked off on studying.

Failure builds character. When we rescue loved ones from experiencing, and in turn overcoming, strife, we steal this opportunity from them.

These starts and stumbles of my youth prepared me for the difficult adulthood I’ve had to endure. Because my parents and teachers didn’t rush in to save me, I learned self-coping skills (even if I didn’t see the advantage to this at the time!).

Last Sunday marked the 8 year anniversary of my colon perforation and my first near death experience; the night they told my husband and me that I had a 10% chance of living, and to say our goodbyes.

Today, I have a choice – – I can drown myself in that memory or I can look at it in a different light – – recognizing that albeit these last 8 years have been enormously challenging, I’ve been alive to experience them. I chose not to say goodbye on that fateful night and I continue to make that same choice today.

The last 3 weeks have been some of the most painful in my life. My Trigeminal Nerve is inflamed and Angry- causing shooting pains across my check to my nose to my jaw. The lightest of breezes and gentlest of touches can set it off. Combine that with a continuous cluster migraine that’s like an icepick in the top of my head, and it can be unbearable. Yet, I am bearing it.

Am I scared? Yes. Am I angry? Yes. Am I in excruciating pain? YES. But, I also remember that the fact that I am feeling these big emotions means that I am alive. And if I pause and remember, I can use my past experiences to get through today. 8 years ago I was in more pain than I ever thought possible. And, yet, today, my mind shields me from truly remembering the intensity of that pain. I was drenched in fear then- of the unknown. Of the known. But I soldiered through. The pain passed. The fear passed—and eventually even transformed into hope.

So if I had resilience then, what’s to say I can’t tap into it today? I just need to practice it, nurture it, fill up the well, drop by drop.

Resilience doesn’t mean I’ve discovered some magic button to prevent me from experiencing some future strife (I wish!). And it doesn’t mean I bounce back from hardships unaffected or unchanged. It does mean that I don’t let the fear of these difficult experiences keep me from experiencing life now. It means that I know that in the past, it has passed. Which means, that this too shall pass. I will be okay. I will survive. maya encounter defeats quote

Striking Balance and Scheduling “Me-Time”

 

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This clear message to focus on self-care appeared on my daily calendar right on the heels of a similarly veined conversation with a friend. We were discussing our recent struggles with being over-booked; striking a balance between committing to too much and leaving enough space for down time.

The struggle with balance is not new. We toss around this subject with regards to our diets; to love, life and work; to our children and our partners; to our hobbies versus our paid endeavors… the list goes on and on.

But what often gets thrown out first is time spent dedicated to just being. To replenishing the spirit. To feeding the soul.

To taking time to love yourself… so you then have the capacity to love and care for others.

To saying, “Stop! Enough is enough; it’s time to fit in some me-time!”

Our society does not encourage this habit of self-care. We live amongst a go, go, go mentality. The idea that if you say no to one opportunity, another one will never come your way. That if you take time to pause and rest, someone else will take your place.

When my body fell off the gerbil wheel and effectively shut itself down as my autoimmune disease announced it was now taking over control of my ability to do or not do, a new challenge arose in the strive for balance. A similar struggle is heard echoed by friends with various chronic illnesses (mind and body). We spend so many days as slaves to our disease, that when we have a “good patch” we want to take full advantage of it. So, we too, push, push, push, until we reach overload and crash.

I recently read about why we have resistance to letting go of these patterns of behaviors. It comes down to one of two fears: 1. A fear of losing something we already have or 2. A fear of not getting something that we want.

When stripped down to this straight forward approach, my friend and I could clearly see the impasses in our behaviors. For her, it was an abundance of exciting opportunities to suddenly participate in the craft she loves. She feared losing this new-found standing in the community as a respected musician. And was afraid to say no to even one opportunity, leading to being “put off the list” and never asked again. As well, she feared losing this dream. She had prayed and the Universe had delivered; how could she turn down that?

For me, I didn’t realize it came down to such a blunt answer until I said it out loud. I fear losing my life. I fear that each day may and well be my last, so I certainly do not want to squander what precious time I do have, and the beautiful opportunities presented to me to spend that time. For me, it was (and is) this insane grasping at all life has to offer after another extended hospital stay.

So where does one go from here? …

The first step is asking yourself that very same question, “What am I fearing right now?”

Then it’s reminding yourself that you are no good to anyone, especially yourself, if you do not incorporate “me-time.” You could say yes to everything, forgetting your own needs in the process. Think back to times you’ve made that choice. Many times we run ourselves into the ground to the point where we may show up for each thing, but are not wholly present for any one thing.

Remind yourself you have choices. My friend decided to keep her present commitments, but to not commit to taking on anything new for the fall. As for losing out? She can let these generous offerees know that she is fully booked now, but is still interested and would like to check in with them in December.

Me? I listed my obligations and put them in order of priority. What is most important? I had to cancel almost half of my “dates” and trust that there will always be something new around the next corner. Also, I will be better equipped to fully enjoy the choices I “kept” because I put moments to pause in between each.

Which leads me to the most important suggestion I have…

Look at your calendar right now and schedule time for yourself. Yes, at least a full hour of “me-time.” Put a big X through it. Do not attach any thoughts to how you are going to spend this time. This is truly down time… you’ll know what you need when you get to it. It is NOT a time to do errands, or catch up on work, or clean the house, blah, blah, blah! Do something that recharges your soul; whether that’s a nap; a walk in the woods; or watching funny kitten videos on YouTube. This is your time — relax, rejuvenate… refuel.

Your first reaction may be the same as my friends, “but what if I schedule it during a day/time that I don’t really need it?”

It doesn’t matter… take the time no matter what. Treat it as responsibly as you would any other appointment with a colleague, doctor, etc. You wouldn’t cancel or double book on someone you respected, so don’t do the same for yourself. Respect yourself as highly as you do others!

Once you get in the habit of honoring yourself with a “me meeting” each week (or several times a week!), your mind and body will start to naturally remind yourself when it’s time to fit in some self-care.

I have shared this idea with some who have met it with aplomb, and others still that have great resistance to the idea. But, can you honestly say you can not find one chunk of time (just 30 mins) that you can dedicate to yourself for just this week?!  At least give it a try…

This is the first step in retraining yourself to put yourself first.

So that you may be fully present in all things and for all others.