As I turn Thirty Five …April 16, 2018 7:37 am
Today I turn 35. In the lead up to this Birthday there has been so much going on, as well as various thoughts and inner shifts that I want to share with you in this post. It’s a story of ups and downs and how life can become a little brighter when you least expect it.
Only a few months ago, I felt a level of apprehension (and if I’m honest, anxiety) about this birthday approaching. Not because I’m worried about ageing… if anything I am enjoying the wisdom and self confidence that comes from being a little older. The issue has actually been that reaching this mid thirties milestone was reinforcing all the areas of my life that have felt full of lack in recent years, as well as the awareness that my life is so far from where I expected it to be in my mid thirties.
No matter how much I consciously practise gratitude, there are many things on hold as a direct result of the level of chronic illness I have lived with for the past number of years and the restrictions it has placed upon my life. This naturally has resulted in a level of sadness and frustration at times.
Things such as my career, embarking on potential relationships, desires to travel, starting a family… as well as the much smaller things that many take for granted (such as having a bit of routine to each week, being able to socialise comfortably and other things such as my writing) have all been put on hold due how my health has been in recent weeks/months/years.
Getting through each day and anchoring back to my heart and some level of peace in the present moment is what has helped, as well as being grateful for the small things in each day.
But it hasn’t stopped the darker moments from creeping in or the background fear that my life may always be this way.
As I shared with you a couple of posts ago, the last few months have been especially challenging for me physically speaking. However, as is often the case when life tests us the most and pushes us to those moments of absolute despair where we find ourselves thinking ‘I can’t cope with this a moment longer’ lessons and gentle inner shifts have thankfully come as a result.
There’s no external distraction when the fatigue and neurological symptoms are so severe that you struggle to even watch tv or read a book.
You are literally trapped inside your body and then forced to face yourself. With that comes pain. But also a stripping away of all the little things everyone else gets swept up in. You end up living in a strange parallel universe. As if someone has taken you off the path of your life and put you on a desolate one that runs along side it.
You spend your days trying to find a way back to the world everyone else seems to be living in, the one where body’s work and there’s freedom to do what you want, when you want. To go after your dreams and goals and just be out in the world expressing yourself.
After spending a lot of time last year searching for answers, (medically speaking) yet at the same time feeling I was going in circles and not really getting anywhere, the last few weeks things have started to unexpectedly shift for me.
I put much of this down to the stripping back I spoke of a moment ago.
Getting to a place where I was painfully aware of life passing (the birthday milestone approaching) and feeling as if I wasn’t getting any closer to finding a way back to health forced me to surrender completely and then look inwards.
I happened to come across the work of Dr Kim D’eramo during a particular day where I was feeling hopeless, lost and like the fatigue was crushing me to the core and it was as if a lightbulb went on for me.
She teaches how so many people attempt to heal chronic illness by searching desperately for answers (a place I have certainly been stuck in during the last couple of years). We can also find ourselves in a place where we constantly ask ourselves ‘what’s wrong with me’.
Both of these things are normal reactions to chronic illness. Of course you are going to want to find answers. Of course you are going to search.
But what I suddenly realised, was how this was consuming me. Especially with social media and following the stories of others in a similar position. We can see a variety of different treatments and protocols working for others and then wonder if we should be doing the same? It becomes utterly overwhelming.
The problem arises then in the fact that everyone is different and what works for one may not work for another. We can be left feeling like there is a million and one things we need to do in order to get well… which can then lead to a feeling of stuckness and thoughts like ‘How on earth am I ever going to find a way out of this’ and of course underneath all of this … fear.
When I reflect on the last three years in my own life – the new diagnoses that have kept coming, the various abnormal test results, fluctuating symptoms, awful relapses as well as additional things such as my Dad passing away, it’s so clear how much stress my mind and body have been under without me even necessarily realising it.
It also became clear how much I have been in a state of resistance to illness (despite having come such a long way when it comes to self love/self compassion) and immersed in the fight against it.
Almost instantaneously, I realised how this has been blocking my healing.
I realised that somehow, I needed to find a way to let go.
To come back to my own inner wisdom and healing resources rather than searching externally.
I decided to go back to basics. To listen fully to my body. To let it guide me. To sleep when I needed to sleep. To be super gentle with myself. To visualise healing. To do what felt good and let go of forcing anything else.
I promised myself, that for the next six months, I would let go of searching. I would concentrate simply on loving my body and my soul. I would soften and sink into my life as it is now, and visualise opening up and being receptive to healing.
It was like an invisible layer of tension lifted.
It all sounds like very basic stuff doesn’t it? But it has transformed the way I have felt in the last few weeks.
I can feel energy starting to shift and moving in my body. I am (dare I say) actually feeling better than I have in a long time. This has surprised me, given that there are still physiologically things going on in my body that do need addressing when the time is right.
I shall still attend hospital appointments and of course continue doing all the things that I know support my healing, but in a more grounded way now. One that sees this as additional stuff to support my body as I heal, and not things I need to frantically do in order to find the perfect combination or one answer that will heal me.
My body needs some respite and peace, and that is what I plan to give it.
I am living my life for today and making the most of the joy that can come in when we let go of anxiously searching.
(I will just say here, that of course there is a time and a place for everything. For example, two years ago when I was at the beginning of a huge amount of abnormal test results and deteriorating health, I did need to take further action. Our individual journeys are exactly that, personal to us, and we need different things at different times. I’m simply sharing where I am at right now and how much releasing the search, the pressure and looking outside of myself for answers has brought a shift in energy and levels of peace for me personally.)
As for my birthday approaching, the frustration/anguish I felt about it only a matter of weeks ago has also lifted. I expressed my feelings as and when they arose throughout the past months, but I now realise that everyone’s life is different.
It’s true that I have missed out on many of the opportunities I would have loved to have and there has been a lot of suffering in recent years. I may not have a career right now, or a family of my own, I may spend many weeks unwell and at home, but I do have many blessings.
Some things have even come into my life as a result of living with ME/CFS. Such as appreciating the smallest of things, noticing how beautiful nature is, the depth of precious friendships I have as well as an even stronger bond with my family due to all we have been through together.
I also have learned how to treat myself with love and respect – something that was once a foreign concept to me back in my twenties.
I could go on with this list, but what I am trying to say is, I’m happy with the person I am as I turn 35.
My life may not be where I once may have thought it would be at this age, but it has depth and value never the less. Sometimes we can place so much value on external milestones and achievements that we forget to appreciate how far we have come and things we have accomplished in other areas.
I have also come to realise how much more we appreciate the light and moments of beauty, when we have experienced long periods of time in the darkness, this is certainly the case for me.
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