I learnt years ago that even if your illness wasn't caused by stress, you are more likely to heal if you remove stressors from your life. What's more, my body welcomed being released from drivers, reactions etc. that had become built in. I started to feel clean inside, calm and centred. So when my back failed, it was natural to look at anything I could do that might affect how I processed the pain.
Today, although I still have pain, I am light years away from my early despair. I no longer feel it is a punishment, a judgement of my worth. I am not afraid of managing it socially and it is not my persona. It is not a life sentence, though it will be with me for the rest of my life. Pain has given me incredible gifts because it has forced me to face my fears and change the way I interact with life. I have come through to a place of joy and grace and for that I am deeply grateful.
So if you ask me, what wrought the change? First, a single remark from my naturopath who saw me at my lowest, when my digestion and thyroid were not working and my ligaments inflamed from undiagnosed h. Pylori. I was a mess and had little confidence. I certainly felt that no one would bother with me in my limited form, unable to sit or eat.
Just one sentence gave me the power to change. She saw beyond the physical mess to the person inside and she validated me. And I remembered that on my lowest days. It was very hard at first, finding even a corner of wholeness, but I hung onto my naturopath's statement. Wholeness was there, buried and grew stronger each time I reached inside, not only affirmed but felt to my deepest fibre. I anchored it, in NLP terms, and each time it became easier.
It is this feeling of deep wholeness that I accessed in my idea, “Suppose I were whole, how would I act?” It works so well because I can see immediately how I would act if whole; the next step is to do it!
It was this essential self that my naturopath glimpsed and her remark had great force because she was a dispassionate observer and I was consulting her for dietary not psychological help. She gave me an outside view at a time when my world was shrinking – the possibility that damaged as I was, I might still have value.
Gradually, my whole self grew stronger. I would catch the crossroads moment, when two paths diverged. I recognized the choice. The pain was still there, but more bearable. My body flamed and ached, but somehow I was above it. Yes, I felt the pain and still had days that retracted, when one by one my plans are cancelled. My world physically gets smaller, but now my spirit knows it doesn't matter. Not easy to explain – just that the effort of validating my worth has changed my set point. It is no longer an argument with myself or a denial. Somehow I am now above the pain. It doesn't matter.