How does one heal their bodies when faced with a chronic disease? I’ve had 38 years to ponder this question and during that time have moved through stages of denial, numbness, towing the line, handling it, pushing through, cracking the whip, false hope, and those were on my good days. On my bad days I would self flagellate for not achieving the perfect remission yet.
Healing is a completely personal experience, entirely different for everyone. I’d never be arrogant enough to think I could tell anyone what road they must take to get there. The best I can do is to describe my own experience, to pave the way, so it doesn’t have to be so hard.
My experience has been that there are many levels of healing and all are intertwined. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, energetic; all of these things create the web of life we experience. So many healers only deal with one layer and ignore the rest. So many people in need of physical health are never reminded that the physical body is like the tip of an iceberg. It’s what we see, feel, experience are in awe of and frustrated by, but underneath the vast ocean lies an immense structure of information that holds that iceberg, our body, up. Without it we begin to crumble.
Because my journey with disease began before any conscious memories took hold, my story of healing is patchy at best. I do know that the immense pain I must have felt as a kid affected my memory; there are many periods of my life that never took hold in my brain. Numbness and disassociation were survival techniques I shared with others I later read about in college when I was taking an abnormal psychology class. How horrifying and interesting it was for me to realize that I related to people with MPD, multiple personality disorder, 98% of whom had undergone severe physical and emotional abuse at a young age. Like them, faced with extreme discomfort, I began to leave my body. Instead of creating different selves, I numbed the one I had. I was always “fine” when asked, would push myself beyond my limits daily, and toughed out the pain. I later took disassociation to a new level when anorexia became a part of my life. Not acknowledging hunger was just another form of what I’d been so good at my entire childhood.
During that time denial was the name of the game and it seemed to work. Not in any way to heal me, but to get through until I had the experience and maturity to move forward on my own. When I entered my twenties I discovered that I didn’t have to be who I always feared I was; a leach on society. I became an occupational therapist and was good at what I did. Even at this young age I found that my level of understanding and compassion far surpassed most others. I knew what to say and how to say it to the elderly man who was crippled from a stroke because I knew intimately what it felt like to be him. Sitting on the hospital bed wearing a one size fits nobody gown. Having strangers walk into your room unannounced, grab your arm before you knew what was happening, to poke you yet again. Knowing that your life had just turned a corner and there was no going back. If only you could have seen ahead, and stopped before you got here.
I was discovering that I was a healer, but it took many, many years to fully bloom into that role for others and myself. The path I took was turbulent, and also one that I wouldn’t change, for each step I took brought me into deeper understanding of this mystery we call life.