The last two months for me have been an interesting study in how to heal. In the post before this one I wrote about a middle-of-the-night freak-out I experienced due to days of not sleeping. Along with the insomnia, which seems to have grown in intensity the past few years, I’ve been dealing with some aggravating physical conundrums and…the biggie…anxiety. I’m not really a panic-attack type of girl – it’s more a generalized, chronic condition – but it can certainly push me up to the edge of the pea-pickin’ cliff. When all you can see at your feet is a pitch-black abyss and you feel you’re inches from tumbling in (or maybe even willingly jumping), it’s time to reassess how you’re processing life. That’s what I’ve been doing.
A few weeks before my massive meltdown, I celebrated my 40th birthday spending the weekend with three of my favorite people. They honored me by carving time out of their busy lives and making arrangements to be present with me in person for an entire 48 hours (one came all the way from Kentucky!). Then sweet birthday messages started flooding in, and that – along with the presence of three of My People – was almost more than my spirit could take. All the time I’m craving affirmation. Like, ALL…THE…TIME. I crave it from my family, my friends and mere acquaintances (humanity in general, really). But when the affirmation inundated me, my first instinct was to RUN. (In some cases to the water closet. Anxiety manifests in the digestive tract on occasion. Everyone knows that, right?!) As my therapist put it, “because when people put you up on a pedestal, you’ve got a lot farther to fall”. True.
After the weekend, I came home knowing the outpouring of love would simmer down (it did), and I figured my anxiety would simmer down in response (it did not…not really). I continued feeling overwhelmed with life and underwhelmed with sleep. The last few days of March walloped me with four subsequent nights of insomnia. So, on the Monday morning after that sleepless snafu, I made an appointment with my doctor, as well as a new-to-me therapist who specializes in anxiety. The doc started me on melatonin. That night, I slept. Tuesday night, I did not…and had the aforementioned meltdown in which I raged and unanchored a shelf from my bedroom wall. The following morning, on the advice of a friend and out of unmitigated desperation, I contacted a woman who practices Reiki (time to hit the google!). We conversed for three hours and I felt the teeniest bit of hope that my circumstances might possibly improve. On Reiki Woman’s recommendations I started drinking reverse osmosis water and gave up eating gluten. (The chlorine/fluoride in tapwater and gluten all have a rep for disrupting moods and causing anxiety/depression.) My out-of-town holistic doc ran blood tests, put me on some supplements, and endorsed Reiki. I also had several folks recommend essential oils; one even donated a bottle of “Peace & Calming” to the cause 🙂 The Reiki practitioner, my new therapist, my out-of-town doc, and a few acquaintances all suggested I make a point of practicing “mindful meditation”. This, by far, has been the greatest challenge for me. Very, VERY hard to quiet my mind. That noggin of mine is quite the busybody.
So. Since that first week of April, I’ve made some changes. I’ve begun my reassessment of how I’m processing life. I’ve been pondering relationships with my loved ones, as well as events from my past. I’ve thought a lot about how to nurture myself and let Love provide all the affirmation for which my spirit stomps its feet. That affirmation thing? For years I’ve made a fool of myself seeking it from people. And for years I’ve heard that being a child of Love is all the affirmation I need. Those wiser than me have said it. And, maybe it sounds corny, but I think Love has been whispering it to me too: Love is all you need. (or maybe it was the Beatles…) The idea is simple; the practice is not. I think most of humanity – some of us moreso – have a consuming need for affirmation from others. But just like any addictive substance, the affirmation will never fill you up. Not fully. And the irony is, the more you TRY to fill up with your substance of choice, the more it starts to destroy you. So, much of the last couple months I’ve spent thinking about how to release my substance of choice: the affirmation of my husband, my friends, my family of origin, various acquaintances and people from my past. It’s part of my road back to health. And duh-ANG, it’s hard. Have I mentioned healing can be painful? Wowzers. Yes. HEALING CAN BE PAINFUL.
My conversations with Reiki Woman and the therapist have been integral. Their words and insight have turned me down a more hopeful path. They both keep reminding me that the process of healing will take months, possibly years. Intellectually I know this, but when you’re desperate to feel better, you wanna feel better NOW. But it helps to have professional healers – ones who promote it and walk people through it and know what it looks like – assuring me that HEALING TAKES TIME.
I’ve had several mini-epiphanies throughout this pointed healing process. Like the evening I crossed paths with an acquaintance at a community event. I’ve reached out to this woman before, trying to initiate a get-together; I feel like we have some commonalities (including struggles with anxiety). She’s always been kind but never responded to my initiative with much enthusiasm. After I exchanged passing hellos with her, I stood there feeling like I should approach her again and try to strike up a meaningful conversation. She might need a FRIEND! I thought. She might need a friend who understands what it is to feel ANXIOUS! I thought. I was going back and forth on whether or not I should approach her and gettin’ super-angsty about it when, like a smack on the forehead, I realized: she can’t help me heal. She can’t nurture me the way I need to be nurtured right now. She has her own stuff to deal with. It’s okay not to pursue that relationship. At this point in my journey, I need to gather around me only conduits of healing, just as I would if I was recovering from a bodily injury in a hospital bed, surrounded by nurses, doctors, and physical therapists. I need to nurture my SELF, not her.
And I finally had my first Reiki session just this past week. Reiki Woman was in my home for four hours playing her bowls, talking geology, and digging her fingers into the lymph glands down my spine. Before she left, she reminded me to drink lots of water to help along the detoxing process (massaging lymph ducts stirs up all kinds of hoo-ha) and warned me that I might feel lousy for the next day or so. I fell asleep around 3am, woke around 7:30am and felt fine. Until I checked social media (blasted Facebook!) and something set me off. I then proceeded to sit on my bed for three hours and experience Blubberfest 2014. When Reiki Woman texted to check on me, I explained my situation and she replied, “Ah yes, EMOTIONAL detox.” Emotional detox, eh? Not real familiar with that term here in the ol’ USoA but it makes sense. Ridding my body and spirit of excess guilt, fear, and anger? I’m down with that. So there I was, within six hours of my Reiki session, in an emotional free-for-all, regarding a very specific situation in my life. A situation that’s felt emotionally burdensome for some time. About two hours later, I carried that burden to a previously-scheduled appointment with my therapist (loving the timing!), and it was so, so good. I had had two very clear thoughts about said situation during my cryfest, and my therapist made the exact same points without any prompting from me. It brought clarity. PAINFUL clarity…but the start of another branch of healing for me. Or maybe the Reiki brought clarity. Or maybe they both did, together. Hard to tell.
Sleeping helps a lot. A LOT. A whole freaking lot. It’s still not what I’d prefer…I miss the days when I slept a solid eight hours, when my bedtimes could be all over the board without repercussions, when I didn’t have the responsibility of being on-call 24/7 (my life-stage as a parent of young children). I can see ahead I have some bridges to cross – rickety jungle contraptions that are swaying a little too much for my comfort level – but I also have some new relationships with people who specialize in healing and some old relationships with people who’ve loved me for a long time, and those help immensely. The healers, combined with the steady love of My People, have given me so much hope. They’re stepping out on those creaky, wobbly bridges ahead of me and saying “You can do this. Here’s how. And by the way, it WILL take time to traverse this thing.” Just ain’t no way we runnin’ across.
So that’s where I am at the moment. I feel silly sharing my “healing process” ‘cause, um, I can’t imagine it’s at ALL interesting to anyone besides, um, me. All My People are living it through with me firsthand so they already know what’s going on. Otherwise…meh. I suppose I’m writing and sharing because…writing and sharing are healing too, in different ways. Writing it out helps me process my thoughts, and I enjoy the creative challenge of making my thoughts into semi-interesting sentences. Having a creative outlet you enjoy does wondrous things for the mind and spirit. As far as why I share it publicly…I view putting my words out there as me extending an outstretched hand, open and waiting for another. And almost every time, someone grabs hold. That heals too.