In the moments after I opened the letter with my blood work results and diagnosis, I burst into tears and my hand instinctively went to my throat, over the area where the thyroid is located.
I re-read the letter a few times, my hand petting my throat as if to soothe it.
“…this is a common condition where, for some reason, the body’s immune system begins to attack the thyroid.”
Attack? That word. Attack.
I felt a hole of sudden grief, of despair, that there would be any part of my body or being that would “attack” itself.
I spent the next few months trying to find some alternative approach to dealing with this, and along the way, feeling the feelings that have come with it. In my work, we don’t try to cling to happiness if that’s not real and true. Feel the feelings, feel the sadness, anger and disappointment, all of it. Feel it so that it’s not stuck inside, and because that’s honest, and then work with it.
I’ve needed to be with the truth of what I felt until I was ready to feel something else.
When we are ready to transform something, it transforms.
I’m ready to stop being resentful of the “what-is-ness” of my life, in this area. I’m ready to dismantle the entire belief system of resentment, which is a belief system of “attack.”
I’m ready to love even illness, even this.
What is it to “Attack”?
Here’s what I already understand about when we attack:
- We attack when we are afraid.
- We attack when we need to defend (defense is the first act of war).
- We attack when there is a perceived threat to our safety.
Attacking in Life
We attack when we’re impatient and snap at the people that we love.
We attack when we are defensive against someone’s feedback.
We attack when we push against what-is, declaring what-is to be wrong.
We attack when we judge others, play the comparisons game, or decide that we are better than.
We attack when we don’t forgive.
We attack when we do not love ourselves, believe that we are enough, or see ourselves as worthy.
I can even see how I attack when I resist what I know I need to do. In those cases, the “attack” is the entire mental game that I play of knowing I need to do it, resisting/justifying not doing it, and then darting back to how I know I need to do it.
And on, and on, and on.
Nothing in me wants to admit publicly that I’m human, that I do these things, too.
Sometimes I feel as if I need to remind myself as much as everyone else that the backbone of my core philosophy is that we are all human, all un-peeling one layer at a time, and that I’m not exempt from that category just because I’ve internalized a life lesson or two in one area of my life.
So–there’s the resistance, the resistance to admitting that I can see the places where I “attack” in my life.
The comforting thought in this is that if I can see clearly where I’ve internalized lessons of loving, and being with, and accepting even those things that are hard in one area of my life, I can practice that in another.
The deepest lessons we learn in life are wholly transferable.
If courage is feeling the fear, diving in anyway, and transforming, then loving this thyroid condition–casting love upon it–is…
…appreciating it for the gifts that it brings (just like fear brings gifts);
…seeing it as the call to rise (just as fear sounds that call);
…a greater commitment to ending suffering in the world (when we fight anything, we contribute to the madness, and fighting fear/illness is a contribution to madness);
…not inflating it to be the Big Bad Thyroid Condition (instead just seeing it as…what it is; confused cells);
When It’s Ready
I couldn’t have said any of this six months ago, or even six weeks ago. I was too angry. I was resistant to releasing any of the anger. I was resentful.
And then, one day last week while sitting on my couch, I realized that I no longer felt like being angry about this, anymore.
Just like that, I was ready.
Preparing to Be Ready
Getting ready for transformation works something like this:
- Acknowledge the truth/reality of the situation. See it fully and clearly, for exactly what it is.
- Accept the truth/reality of the situation. Be with it fully.
- Embrace and extend lovingkindness to the truth/reality of the situation.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Perhaps for days, perhaps for years. Again and again, like a meditation, coming back to the breath.
It isn’t sexy. It often has a “crawling out of your skin” feeling to it, because it’s so contrary to all of our conditioning to start accepting things, to learn to be with discomfort.
How it looks for you will be somewhat different because you’re you, but this is the skeletal framework of how it looks.
Especially the part where you repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
I understand that all of this might seem really, really difficult. It has helped me immensely to see this as “choosing sanity.”
It’s choosing sanity when I choose to practice a tool rather than go with the habituated response.
It’s choosing sanity when I choose what I know to be true about life over what seems true in moments when I’m triggered and upset.
It’s choosing sanity to see, very clearly, the insanity of doing anything that keeps us from the truth.
Truth? I/you/me/we want to live happy lives. When we’re not happy, we can conjure up any number of distractions and indulge in addictions untold. The conjuring up is a dysfunction.
It’s choosing sanity to ask: How big can I love? Am I willing to extend love, even to this? Even to that which confuses me? Even to that which I do not understand?
Choosing sanity is the functional thing to do, for the health of the organism.
I choose love/health, and I already know what that looks like–I just need to be willing to choose it. How about you?
If you were to look at something in your life that you have difficulty with, and if you were already choosing sanity in that place, what actions would you be taking? What beliefs would you adopt? What would you do differently?