There and Back Again...
Throughout the process of stabilizing my physical self, my awareness was slowly increasing around the relationship I had with my core self and with my nervous system. My nervous system was over activated, and continuously on high alert. I struggled with insomnia, teeth grinding, tension headaches, muscle spasms, on top of my complicated digestive situation.
(Rectal spasms are literally one of the worst pains out there, and I have had two kids naturally! Shout out to anyone who has been through it. We should have T shirts made.)
This aspect of reconnecting to my body and slowly listening to myself held many layers.
I reconnected with the artist in me. I had always been a singer and a dancer. This got put to the side with marriage, kids, and career. I found an Afro-brazilian dance class with live drumming. I made my joy and sense of freedom a priority. I learned other styles of Latin and Brazilian dance and went on to perform with a local professional dance troupe for the next 5 years. In so doing, I allowed the pent up, frustrated, lost and ignored aspects of my being to feel alive and flow. This re-connected me with a vital part of myself and helped me move back into a space of joy and optimism. A huge limiting barrier for many people with IBD is the free floating anxiety of having acute bowel pain or inconvenient bathroom runs. This can be paralyzing and keeps people from going out and finding joy in their life. All I can say is this: DO IT ANYWAY. I had to accept that there was going to be a possibility that I would have to deal with acute issues in the middle of a performance! I did it anyway. I found ways to work around it, make it less likely. Did I have some bad moments? Yes. It's okay, I made it through. If I had the chance to do it again, I would. Why? Because my happiness was worth it, and I refused to allow myself to feel trapped by this disease. Simply, NO.
I spent every free moment I had listening to podcasts, reading books, finding meditations and exploring the cracks and crevices of myself. I started asking myself very difficult questions like:
--Who am I? If I remove all the roles, expectations, and shoulds who is actually left?
--Do I even know what I want? Do I even know what I am feeling in any given moment? How do I know that this is my feeling and not someone else's?
- Are my relationships based on mutual love, respect and compassion?
- Am I choosing this work that I do because it fills me with joy and purpose or because I feel I need to serve others to have value and receive validation?
-- Is this faith that I have been raised in actually what I believe to be true for me and the life I am choosing for myself?
Any process of deep healing of self, must necessarily involve a period of reflection on the person that you are currently choosing to be. If this person that you are choosing to be has brought you to a place of a deep autoimmune disease, then somewhere along the way a disconnect has taken place. The journey of healing will require you to find these disconnected parts of you and re-build your relationship with them. I am not saying that there are no genetic or physical components to your disease process. I have told you all of mine. There were a multitude. However, many people have been through similar physical experiences. Not all of them developed autoimmune disease. The point of this conversation is to open the possibility of understanding that your core energetics/ core relationship with self creates the foundational blueprint for the health of your physical body. Just as we can stress ourselves into disease, we can also de-stress ourselves out of disease. This is my offering as a way for you to do that.
I started to fully connect with the intuitive aspect of myself, and the mediumship gifts that had been a source of fear and overwhelm for most of my life. I realized that I was either born this way, or early childhood experiences created in me a hypersensitized awareness of everything around me. From a very early age I was running feelings of fear in response to what I felt around me. The most prominent way this manifested for me was a knowing that there were energies around me that other people could not perceive or chose not to. This is an incredibly difficult experience for a child to have sensory experiences that activate the deepest parts of their knowing and to have the people around you be unable to hold space for it or validate it. The unfortunate result of this is that you are inevitably forced to make a choice:
--Stand up against the doubts that come at you. Hold to the truth of what you are experiencing. (This requires great strength.)
--Abandon your inner sense of what is true or real in order to receive approval, connection or comfort. ( Close the door on these feelings in whatever way you can)
I chose to try to close the door on this. For better or for worse, this never actually seemed to work for me. I needed help to learn how to manage this and I did not have anyone around me in my life that knew how to help me. So, I lived with an agitated nervous system for many, many years. I had no template to help me place boundaries or to learn how to discern what I was actually feeling. I lived with the constant bombardment of information from the people around, from the souls in spirit around me, and from the emotional energy stored in any given place that I found myself.
It makes sense that my body became so worn out.
I realized that in order for me to actually become functional, healthy and thriving, I would have to get a handle on this to a high level of mastery. Otherwise it would continue to run my life.
This continues to be a process of learning and growth to keep myself stable and grounded. I’m 9 years into this process and although I am quite functional and healthy, I can still experience moments of overwhelm in certain environments.
Both of my daughters have similar sensitivities. It has been a beautiful process to witness their strength and no-nonsense approach to working with these aspects of themselves. It was essential to me that they develop open, honest, and clear awareness of this aspect of reality and learn how to balance and organize their energy to stay healthy and grounded in themselves. We are all learning together.
In summary, the process of systematically gathering up the lost or broken pieces of my emotional self, repairing my deepest relationship with myself, and allowing the most authentic version of me to begin to be expressed has allowed a deep sense of exhalation and surrender to come into my nervous system. I truly believe that without this deep level of self-reflection, willingness to work through the ugly, shadowy parts of myself I would not have been able to heal myself from Crohn's. This is the gift of disease. It pushes us, actually forces us, to do the hard work of telling the truth. Sometimes it is a truth we would rather not see about ourselves, the people in our lives, the choices we have made, the way we allow ourselves to be treated.
Sometimes the truth hurts.
But so does Crohn's Disease.
I'll choose the truth every time.