My story matters. As does yours. There are so many layers and components to me being where I now am, that no matter how many words I write will probably never express the full detail of my life. I don’t want to get bogged down in my story or the details because I’ve spent a very long time dragging the sad parts of my life with me. I’ve now felt the sadness, grief and despair and I’ve moved towards freedom and love. But I also think that I need to share some context so that I can then continue to focus on what really matters- coming closer to consciousness and choosing love in every part of my life.
I think the easiest way for me to describe what has happened is by asking you to think about your life. To reflect on the things you do every day and then to imagine them all disappearing at once. I once had a normal routine that I took for granted, even sometimes begrudged due to its monotony and repetitiveness. I’d wake early to exercise (gym or a walk/run), I’d come home wake my kids, go through the morning in a rush- breakfast/packing lunches/feeding the dog/hanging the washing, I’d drive my kids to school, grab a coffee and head to work. I’d work all day in my job that I had spent my entire career working towards, then I’d spend the late afternoon/early evening dropping kids to sport/music/friends/work etc. I’d go to the shops for groceries, maybe have a quick catch up or phone call with a friend, before heading home. Dinner with the kids, cleaning up, housework. Then I’d do a bit of writing/reading/TV on the lounge with the kids. Before falling into bed exhausted. This routine, with mild variations (such as every second week I wouldn’t have my kids and would then travel long distances as part of my job with the Government) had pretty much been my life for the majority of my adult life. It was what I had come to rely on, it was familiar and probably like you- I pretty much knew exactly what was happening each week.
But during this time something else was also happening- I was also becoming ill and had been managing symptoms of IBS for close to 2 years. But now fatigue, major food intolerances, chronic constipation, muscle weakness, unexplained weight gain and severe brain fog had become my reality. I tried to find the answers as to why a once perfectly healthy 40year old female who took really good care of herself, could suddenly feel as though she had aged 20 years in the space of a few months. I saw nutritionists, was regularly at my local GP of 13 years, a Biomedical Doctor, a Rheumatologist, and a Gastroenterologist. I had test after test, colonoscopies, gastostrophy, bloods, urine, breath, faecal samples. I took compounded medication, eliminated sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, soy, gluten, etc. I slept more and I eliminated anything in my life unless it was absolutely unnecessary. I stopped going to the gym, out with my friends and working around the house. In the space of a few months I very quickly deteriorated to the point where I had to take a month off work so that I could do nothing but rest.
My once normal life changed so rapidly in a matter of months. I had no control over what happened next. But in the space of three months both of my children suddenly left home, I had to resign from my job, I had no way of supporting myself, I lost the majority of my friends and I became so sick that I could barely leave my bed. My once normal life was gone and I fell into a state of absolute despair. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, PTSD (from previous traumas) surfaced and I was in a constant state of fight/flight/freeze mode. I had no where to be, no one to look after, no partner to give me the support that I needed and no desire to be alive. I felt completely alone and isolated.
I tried to get help, I was flying across the State seeing specialist after specialist, I was seeing a Psychologist fortnightly, I was regularly at the Doctor, & in and out of hospital but I kept coming up against brick walls. Mostly I was being told that I had depression (& I did but this was a symptom rather than the underlying cause). I reverted to a child like state, and I stayed this way for close to 6 months. The only thing I could think was ‘I haven’t done anything wrong, why am I being punished’. I was depleted in a way that I had never been before, I cared about nothing. It felt like I had died except that I was very much still alive and living a nightmare. I couldn’t eat, or poo, or move, I couldn’t talk or think or leave the house, I couldn’t pay bills or get dressed or wash my hair. I couldn’t talk on the phone or send a text. I had no idea what day, time or month it was. I was sick, I was grieving for my children, for my life that I had just lost, I wanted nothing more than to wake up and go straight back into my boring familiar routine. I wanted to escape my body and slip effortlessly into somebody else’s life. I wanted to be anywhere except where I was. But mostly I wanted to be dead.
The thing about illness is that everyone thinks your just dealing with the illness- with whatever it is that is going on with your body. But its not true- at least not for me. In the stillness I was dealing with everything that had happened in my life, the mistakes, the shame and the guilt of every ugly event that had happened. I was dealing with the ‘what if’s’ & ‘if only hadn’t done that’, ‘if only he hadn’t done that to me’. I was thinking about every single person who had hurt me. I was remembering all of the things that were wrong with me, all of the ways I had failed at life, all of the expectations that I hadn’t fulfilled, all of the things that I had wanted to accomplish and couldn’t. But mostly I was dealing with the reality of being me- in the ugliest, messiest, rawest version of myself. Illness – I would discover- was never about sickness, illness was the opportunity for me to make peace with myself and my life so that I could begin to focus on what really mattered. I had to completely destruct before I could become whole.
It took me three years. I remember thinking when I resigned from my job that I just needed three months of rest and I would be fine. Never did I think it would take three years. Three years of finding the right people to help me. There were so many things I did to be okay and while I could sit here and tell you in great detail about the month long stay I had at an integrative health retreat where I had daily psychotherapy and somatic therapy, the faecal microbial transplant I had to restore my gut bacteria, the food that I ate, the supplements that I took, the healers that came to me at the time I needed them, the move I needed to make so that I could be near the beach, the meditation, yoga practices and spiritual books that bought me back to life, and the ways in which I forgave myself and those that had hurt me. The thing is this was MY JOURNEY which doesn’t mean the answers I found will be right for anybody else. The real key to my healing was having the time and space to figure my way through and believing there was a greater purpose for it. I needed to work through all of the pain and betrayal and find a way to make peace with everything that had happened. I needed to relive my story so that I could start telling a different one. I needed to be alone in a way I never had. There was no quick fix, cure, time line or magic pill..this was about me healing myself in the way that felt right for me. Nobody could have told me ‘how’ to do it. I followed my instincts, and my intuition. I researched everything and I took on board the things that felt right. I saw health professionals and walked away when it no longer felt right, I found new people that could take me further on MY journey. I stayed true to myself in every way. NOBODY ELSE WAS LIVING MY LIFE, NOBODY ELSE KNEW WHAT WAS RIGHT FOR ME. And that is how I recovered. Above everything else I listened to myself and I learnt how to conquer the fear that I was never going to be okay.
So you see, the story does matter because it is the foundation of where I am now- just as your story is a reflection of where you are now. I ran from my past for so long but all I was doing was dragging it with me in every way instead of stopping and confronting and feeling what I needed to feel. I no longer see any of my past as a ‘bad thing’, I don’t wish that it never happened, I’m not resentful and I’m not re-living it. I’m not upset at the medical system, I don’t feel animosity to the people that in some way probably could have done more to help me, I’m not angry at the people who were unable to be there for me, I don’t blame my children for leaving when they did nor will I spend the rest of my life making them feel guilty. I have forgiven the people that have hurt me and I have forgiven myself because I know it has all happened exactly as it was supposed to. I know to hold on to any of it would only mean that I am letting myself down and moving me further away from where I want to be. I’ve moved on but I still respect my story- but I don’t need to tell it in absolute detail. I’ve let go of the need to stay attached to it and I know that it has led me back to where I need to be.