Grateful for Chronic Illness: #39
The body is tenacious in its teachings.
These Love letters are for deeply caring, over-giving, people pleasers who want to make the shift from Exhausted Caretakers to Empowered Caretakers.
Weekly tips, hints and guidance, in a safe Community of like-minded souls, so you can become more of your True Self. Let go of the shoulds, have tos and musts that keep you stuck and start taking some actions towards more freedom, fun and flow.
Joy and sorrow are inseparable. . . together they come and when one sits alone with you . . remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."
— Khalil Gibran
Dear Lovely You,
I am one of those annoying people you come across who can’t eat this and can’t eat that. To start with people are generally patient and try really hard to make it right for me. But there’s no hope. I can’t be helped.
Is it an unconscious way of avoiding being helped and nurtured by others? I don’t know but it’s a curious thought.
I have so many food sensitivities that, if I am invited out, I either have to eat before I go or take my own. I will even carry my own herbal tea bags or just drink hot water.
I don’t produce enough enzymes to digest a lot of foods, so it sits in my gut causing inflammation and damage which leaks into my circulation and plays havoc around my body.
I’m used to it. I manage it pretty well most of the time but it’s hard to explain (so I usually don’t try) without people getting concerned (which makes me very uncomfortable) and it’s something I have been living with for over sixteen years.
I am afraid it’s boring for people (because it’s bloody boring as hell for me!) even though I know that chronic health issues (physical, mental and emotional) are rapidly increasing and many people are struggling and often feeling alone and isolated.
I don’t want it to drag you down, that’s not what I’m here for. There are many other things I prefer to write about. But there maybe someone here that I can help…
Beating myself up again
There is a slight sense of shame still, for not having sorted it out with all the hundreds of hours of cognitive work I have done to get to the root cause and practitioners I have seen for different healing modalities.
There’s been a huge surge in Chronic Illnesses
I met a doctor on the meditation course I did. She was there to learn meditation so she could take it back to her practice to help her colleagues who were very stressed, mainly because of the massive increase in chronic illness that they had witnessed over a seven year period.
They were scratching their heads, not knowing what to do, as conventional medicine didn’t really address chronic issues except, in some cases, to manage symptoms.
I believe that many health issues are not just the result of unhealthy lifestyles and toxins but also the result of unresolved stress and trauma, unhealthy patterns of being, living in a toxic environment or with toxic people, suppressing emotions and repressing our true selves.
What helps (sometimes)?
I have many skills and tools to help myself and though they are great Resources to have, they don’t always work. In fact, when I say work, none of them is going to cure me, rather they are Resources I can use to help to support me while going through symptoms.
And the rebel in me will not even bother to use them at times because, what’s the f**king point if they’re not going to actually resolve the core issue and make me better?
And like everyone else, I still want a quick fix even though, by now, I should know better!
When nothing works, I have to come back inside to my Inner Self.
Listen. Rest. And Stop fighting what is.
Unresolved stress and trauma affect body function and chemistry as the body keeps trying to rebalance. Suppressed emotions also get trapped within the cells and create stagnancy in systems that need to be in flow.
Years of wired in, habitual mental patterns and thoughts exacerbate the whole thing.
It's a loop that it’s very hard to escape and getting our knickers in a twist about it embeds it even more.
It is especially hard if you don’t have the support and understanding of your loved ones and if they have no experience of it themselves. It’s hard for them to understand how it feels to be trapped in a continual cycle of up and down energy and up and down health, which can lead to despair.
Seeking their sympathy or pity doesn’t generally work but gently informing and educating them on your understanding of what’s going on and your frustration with not getting better, can at least keep them informed.
However, you don’t have to be ill, exhausted or a hypochondriac to get your needs met. You need to be meeting your needs yourself, every single day as much as you can.
Self-care is essential, not a luxury.
Be realistic. Tell them, this is the capacity I have. This is what I can do. These are my limits for now.
Today I have a confession to make.
And it’s not easy to admit to you.
This week I have been trying to push through when I wasn’t feeling too well.
My determination can get in the my way.
Yes, even though I am trying to encourage you not to do the same.
I have been trying to be perfect for you.
You see I want to write to you and be upbeat and smiley and positive and inspiring all the time. Ta daa…
But real life's not like that. Pants!
And I had a loud voice in my head saying: KAREN, PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH! Hopefully I don’t sound too preachy though!
It doesn't last long these days before I surrender.
My body is saying no.
My body never lets me get away with it anymore and I have to come back to centre. Back to myself.
As pain and discomfort settled in.
I saw My Inner Self.
The one that's always there.
The one whose needs have been so neglected in the past.
I took her hand and I listened deeply.
She was relieved. Glad I was finally there for her again.
Inner Self said - STOP. Be with me. (Pointing to her chest. Her heart) I need you.
We chatted for a while like old friends. We’ve been here before many times.
I used to think I knew best.
I know better now.
We decided to let go of some things.
To postpone some others.
The weight fell away from our shoulders.
The anxiety settled in our tummy.
There's no rush. We have all we need.
She said she had a message for you.
So here it is from my Inner Self.
Go inside and take the hand of YOUR Inner Self.
Go on. Go ahead.
Sit with her/him and listen.
Take your time.
Let her/him show you what she/he needs.
Let her/him rest. Let her/him play. Let her/him express.
Let her/him cuddle up in the warm with a cup of tea.
Listen. Listen more.
Stop listening to what's out there
and listen to what's in here (points to heart again) instead.
Then we carried on our conversation
She turns back to me and says:
I need you too.
What do you need?
Come sit with me a while. I sometimes feel like an unwanted guest. Diminished. Unimportant.
I know. I know. I’m sorry.
Come let us walk a while now. Take my hand again. All these robes you wear. All this armour. All these roles you play. Do you like them?
Some of them are not me (I admit).
All these people that rely on us, they need to know… We need to rest. To stop. Please rest more.
I've been trying to get your attention for a long time. Now you're here, can you stay? Can you be with me?
Not to tolerate or endure but really be by my side holding my hand?
All I want is to feel safe.
To know you're there.
To comfort me. To reassure.
To let me rise high up onto your shoulder and show me proudly to the world, however I am feeling.
Accept me. Respect me. Be Me.
Then it changed
Last night was a different sort of night. I slept a lot longer and more peacefully. After almost nine hours of sleep (instead of the five hours I have managed the last few nights) the world looks and feels completely different.
I woke up feeling grateful that my body has, yet again, slowed me down so I can gain more clarity and integrate what I am learning. More slowly, more compassionately and more deeply.
How have you been doing with your Self-Care this week? Any confessions of your own or are you as enlightened as the Buddha? 😇
How I took care of myself
Self-care doesn’t have to be radical if it’s done consistently. As well as the basics, I read. I listened to podcasts. I watched some gentle, unchallenging TV. I stopped pushing myself to do anything.
I listened to Adele pouring her heart out on this playlist:
With tenderness I allowed myself to stop and take a pause from the shoulds.
In the past I might have felt frustration, guilt or bitterness but I feel none of these now.
This is my time. My Life. My choices.
The power of gratitude
At times I felt a sense of gratitude when I was feeling unwell the previous few days. It seems almost counter-intuitive but it allowed me to be tender and patient with myself.
Gratitude can be used as a powerful tool to help us through the darkest times not just the lovely times. Making it a daily practice can truly transform things.
In her campaign to rethink what gratitude means, Tanmeet Sethi says:
Gratitude for a lesson learned or human capacity cultivated from a past trauma, helps the brain assign a new meaning to that suffering. (Notice I did not say you need to be grateful for the trauma itself, you don’t need to excuse an evil or injustice) You get to rewrite the narrative.
Allowing ourselves to be grateful for the things we really don’t want to experience but can’t change can be transformative.
Feeling unwell and having unwelcome symptoms wakes you up. It tells you there’s something you’re missing still or something you have forgotten again.
My lesson: It tells me that I need more time, more patience and to cultivate that determination I have so relied upon in another way. To turn my determinetion to strive and succeed to determined patience.
I can not and would not want to be rid of a quality that is a very part of my nature but I can point it towards other qualities I need to develop within myself. Pointing determination in instead of outwards.
My body is healing
Healing doesn’t always look like we think it should. It can be uncomfortable and painful. Think of how a cut heals. To start with it feels sore and gets inflamed as our defenses get into action to attack invaders. Blood clots to prevent bleeding and seal the wound. It gets itchy as it begins to dry up, then sometimes feels sore again as new tender tissue is formed and it tightens back up. We know that’s all normal. And it’s the same for the body. It’s going to go through various stages of healing and as it does sometimes it’s going to be uncomfortable or even painful.
Letting our minds get in the way of that healing can keep us stuck in a hanging healing. One that keeps repeating.
Having a sense of acceptance and gratitude for the healing process helps to shift us out of those repeating loops we so often get stuck in.
Meet Your Inner Self with the sort of Respect, Compassion and Generosity you afford your Loved Ones and others, for she/he is the most deserving of all, and afterall, without her/him there is no giving to others.
From My True Self to Yours
PS. Meet me in the comments. How have you been doing with your Self-Care this week? Any confessions of your own or are you as enlightened as the Buddha? 😇