Alright, alright, alright. I’m finally telling people: I’ve been sick. Ill. Down. Struggling with my health. Challenged.
I recently caught myself trying to pull what Ken Wilbur calls “spiritual bypass,” the attempt to think positively and reframe myself right out of the very reality that I’m in, not to transform it, but to deny it entirely.
Is it a good thing to reframe? To reach for what’s positive? Of course–and it’s the courageous thing to do.
But Da Nile ain’t just a river in Egypt, and there’s a place we can go to with all of this that isn’t actually powerful.
The energy put into denying something is wasted energy.
Current reality, always changeable, but in this moment, is this:
I have an auto-immune disease. Or, at least, I’ve been diagnosed with one.
It’s called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and it’s a pain in the ass.
More accurately, it’s not even “pain,” per se. More like my body has been in a freak out spiral where my energy levels have sagged and my metabolism has sagged further, causing a cascade of other sagging issues, particularly in the posterior, if ya know what I’m sayin’.
Other things? Sadness and exhaustion can wash over me without warning, or I wake up with achey, sore joints. I’ll catch “Brain fog.” Oh, and–if there’s someone with a cold anywhere in my vicinity? Chances are, I’ll catch it.
I’d felt smallish symptoms for years, but then about a year ago, for reasons I don’t understand, some kind of tipping point was reached and that’s when I started to really spiral downward, so I got my bloodwork done and there it was: a diagnosis.
If I’m completely honest, I’ve had this entire fantasy in my head where I’d tell everyone the story of this *after* I’d figured it all out–you know, the whole, “Got the diagnosis, doctors said take a pill, I declined and did the holistic route, now I’m cured, what do the doctors really know, anyway?” deal.
That’s *almost* how the story has gone: I did get the diagnosis, doctors did say to take a pill, I declined and did the holistic route, and…well, my blood tests only got worse.
So, yeah. Now I’m on medication.
Answering a Few Questions
Yes, I’ve explored multiple alternative options other than medication. For the first six months of 2012, I put well over a thousand dollars into acupuncture, herbs, supplements. Upon reading that going gluten-free is supposed to help, I promptly ditched it. I haven’t had a piece of real bread for nearly a year.
Yes, I already ate a basically whole foods diet well before this diagnosis, hardly ate anything packaged, have done multiple raw foods pure cleanses over the years, and am probably one of the few Americans you’ve ever met who gets anywhere close to the proper servings of vegetables.
Yes, it has pissed me off to have an illness and a diagnosis, given the fact that I exercised and ate right all these years and that’s supposed to be the #1 thing you can do to ward off illnesses. As a runner who likes to sweat it out, who thinks brussels sprouts are better than pasta, who had happily given up dairy awhile back, and who only ever ate sustainably-raised-organic-grass-fed animals a few times a month? Ugh-fucking-ugh. There’s my tantrum.
Yes, I do take time to remember to be grateful. I am grateful that I’m not in actual “pain,” just chronically tired. I’m grateful that I’ve caught it early. I am grateful that it’s not the worst possible case of this disorder. I’m grateful for all of the things that DO work splendidly in my body; all of the nice clean blood, arteries, the tissues, the joints, the tendons, the bones, the nerves.
The body is a marvel–a beautiful, lovely, self-repairing marvel.
Every single tool that I have used to navigate every other challenge in my life has been called upon to navigate this one.
I am reminded again that apparently, for this incarnation of my soul, the major lesson to be learned in this lifetime is about control, because life certainly serves up a lot of those lessons!
I cannot control this.
I might be able to influence the outcomes–I might spend time and money and resources and energy into therapies that ultimately do help me. I believe that this is all possible. I might even completely reverse this.
And–I cannot control this. I know that the current New Age order of the day is to tell everyone that they can have anything they want, and on a higher-order level, I do believe in infinite and limitless possibilities. I even believe in mind-body connections.
I also know that if I approach this from the perspective of, “Okay, I have to figure out the steps and then if I just execute steps 1, 2, 3, I’ll get the outcome that I want,”
–well, that’s control, an attachment to outcome. Control = suffering. Control = the illusion of safety. Control = narrow options and choices.
My background in Buddhism reminds me again and again that when we think we can get what we want by following a path that externalizes happiness (in this case, happiness is externalized by the underlying belief that I’ll be happier if I don’t have an auto-immune disease), then we suffer.
Paradoxically, it’s when we accept and embrace the reality of our lives that we are in the best position to change that reality–and to be happy.
I have rejected this truth more times than I could count, and it’s only been when I embraced this path that I’ve ever seen my life radically change.
I acknowledge that fact and I think with a rueful smile and the slightest Midwestern accent, “Well… sheeet, Kate. Time to love bigger.”
I’m ready. Just knowing that is the shift.
A ton of overwhelm comes from caring what people think.
Brene Brown‘s book, I Though It Was Just Me tells the story of the time that some friends were horrified by the idea of a parent bringing store-bought cookies to a school event (that equals: pressure to really perform by baking cookies, even if you don’t have time. That leads to overwhelm).
My clients tell me about times when their mothers or fathers gave them one look from across a room that told them, without a single word, that they were in deep trouble (that equals: pressure to do what you’re told, or else face someone else’s wrath. That leads to overwhelm).
Social media is all about what other people think (which is why so many overwhelmed people take digital sabbaticals!).
If caring what other people think is a major part of overwhelm–well, then, it’s definitely part of Breathing Space.
It’s a myth that overwhelm is about time-management and discipline. If that weren’t a myth, we could all white-knuckle our way to peace by just following the “right” steps, getting the “right” day planners.
The trouble is, we feel the pressure of what other people think if we start to take some of those things off of our to-do lists, or if we aren’t as responsive with email.
I’m all for respect; we need to respect one another.
We also need to stop caring what other people think.
I have a hunch that you’re a great person, someone who genuinely wants to do good in the world and who doesn’t want to hurt anyone.
So with that as the basis behind your actions, I’d like to ask you to stop caring what other people think.
Care about what you think–of you. Care about your integrity. Care how you feel about yourself when you do or don’t make a particular choice–but don’t care what others think and have that as the basis for your actions.
That’s not where the gold lies!
If you’ve spent a lifetime caring what other people think, and that’s gotten, well, overwhelming…
…I just might have the course for you.
Some Breathing Space participants have shared with me that they’ve made it a personal goal to finish Breathing Space with better boundaries around doing what others want them to do. Meaning: They want to be clearer about that line between what they’re responsible for, and where others need to take responsibility for themselves.
If you’ve spent a lifetime thinking that you’d better make sure that you keep yourself in check so that others aren’t upset, Breathing Space is where you need to be.
The early-bird registration discount for Breathing Space ends on August 15th–
so get on the list and then check your inbox for the follow-up email with registration information (sometimes they find their way into the SPAM folder, so you might need to look there, too).