Someone recently asked me if I knew the reason why I have my health conditions. I’d just had some reflexology which was wonderful, and I really enjoyed it, so I was feeling extremely relaxed and centred. Considering I don’t usually let anyone go within a metre of my left foot, let alone touch it, it was a miracle I’d agreed to it, but I trusted the therapist and I was pleased I was able to completely relax and switch off for the hour or so.
I sat quietly for a while pondering the question before I replied. It doesn’t usually take me long to respond to such questions, but it seemed wise to construct my answer carefully given I was sat in a busy healing/therapy centre. Whilst I was pondering she asked me if I thought I’d chosen to be ill or if I felt I still had unresolved issues to deal with. I’d considered both in the past as these are both held in quite high esteem in the ‘new age’ arena. Of course, there is an element of truth in both, but, after many years of living with my condition and many years of wrestling with why things are the way they are, I have reached a slightly different conclusion.
My response: ‘Well, I think I have my condition because my collagen isn’t quite the same as other peoples and that means my body doesn’t function quite as it should. Yet, I sense that’s not quite what you mean! In truth, I’ve stopped looking for a deeper or higher reason for this: it is what it is’.
I later pondered the question further as it stirred up something within me that surprised me as, although I’d made peace with being the way I am, I did start to wonder if I had missed something. I am always open to looking more deeply within as that is how I try to make sense as to why things are the way they are so I dived right in to explore the ripples that this seemingly innocent question had stirred up in my consciousness.
Personally, I found it unhelpful trying to find out why I chose or created my illness as it built layer upon layer of guilt and anguish within my heart and soul as I tried so hard to unravel the knots and tangles I had forged for myself. The concept of creating my illness still wrangles deeply as, although I accept the inextricable mind-body-spirit connection, I think there’s a risk of self-recrimination if we continue to seek out answers to questions that don’t have answers and feel we are somehow to blame for the situations we find ourselves in.
My ill-health isn’t my identity, it’s a part of what makes me, me. It means I am who I am. I’m not loving my pain and disability, living in some kind of whimsical fairytale, but it’s here to stay and what does fighting it achieve other than turning me into a bitter and hollow soul? I just decided to accept my reality and try to find the positives. So, whilst I may not be loving my ill-health, I have made friends with it (mostly!).
By learning to accept it, I have grown and evolved from a place of fear to a place of compassion. It also means I can do what I do as my experiences allow me to reach deeply within my own heart and soul in order to find inspiration from what was always an inhospitable space.
I can be in hospital waiting rooms listening to people when they need to talk, I can reach out to others struggling and in need of support; it so often needs someone who has ‘been there’ to truly understand. I’ve never been one to aspire to ‘lead from the front’, I’ve always been one of the stragglers at the back, travelling alongside others, like myself, who are trying to make sense of life, seeking out a smidgeon of peace.
It was only when I shifted into this space that I become wholeheartedly re-engaged with myself. I actively started physiotherapy, I exercise daily, and I’m still working hard at my neuro-Physio, working on re-wiring my brain through neuroplasticity. I’m addressing my diet and I’m seeking out support with my emotional well-being. I couldn’t access any of that until I’d accepted my reality and stopped trying to find an answer that explained it all. There isn’t one. I’ve stopped looking for a cure – for a wonder fix – and it’s set me free. This doesn’t mean I’ve slumped into further disrepair as I haven’t given up, I’ve instead leaned gracefully into acceptance and it’s allowed me to stop trying to be the person I thought I should be or could be. I am now the person I am.
I’ve learned a great deal along the way and I have much to be thankful for. I can go into the depths of my pain and find wisdom waving back at me. Of course, I’ve had times when I’ve despaired at the knowledge that life doesn’t always have answers, but this has, over time, given me strength and courage. Of course, it’s not just about physical pain, it’s about emotional discomfort, spiritual malaise, fatigue, bodily dysfunction, wayward hormones and a whole host of other symptoms, but they are a part of my every day.
Over time, I’ve found ways to seek inspiration from my pain – it’s become my muse. I have learnt so much about life, loss, happiness, grief and pain over the years and I am grateful for this. Of course, I still have unresolved issues, who doesn’t? Maybe I chose it, maybe I didn’t. Does it matter? I’m not angry and I’m not bitter – it is what it is, so, I choose to make the most of it.
I know many souls who are still of the belief that we create our illnesses as a way of highlighting issues we still need to work through. Obviously they’re not wrong, we just have different beliefs. This helps them to make sense of their own lives but, for me, this created the expectation that everything always has an answer and I simply haven’t found that to be true. Accepting the opposite has taken a lot of faith and courage, but it seems to me to be the most natural way to live. Always seeking out reason for why things are the way they are tightly turns the coils of the springs within the soul and this can lead to an underlying frustration and discontentment as there is little, or no, opportunity to wholeheartedly rest in the here and now of ‘it is what it is’. Of course, I haven’t stopped asking questions, I just ask different kinds of questions these days.
I can’t say my philosophy is the ‘right’ one, after all, we are all unique, so we each have our own paths to walk and lessons to learn, but the freedom I now feel having stopped looking for all of the answers is truly wondrous…