A friend of mine sent me this last night and it got me thinking and writing some thoughts on my own illness journey.
“In illness, you’re suddenly not yourself anymore. The question is: Are you going to cling in panic to some idealized self that no longer exists? Or are you going to cross the threshold and acknowledge that you’re on a journey, though you don’t know to where? You haven’t chosen it, but now you’re different in some way. This is one reason physical illness shows up as a turning point in so many spiritual biographies or as the catalyst of shamanic initiation. It’s a profound shock to the system. It dislodges you. You look in the mirror, and one of the unfortunate ill stares back. But in a way, you could say that disease also abrades away, painfully, all of these superficial ways in which we judge our worthiness, even life’s worthiness. Our worthiness, as in: “Am I strong, beautiful, competent, undamaged goods?” Or life’s worthiness, as in: “Life is good only when it makes me happy, or aggrandizes me, or favors my enterprise.” But who’s bigger, you or life? There’s a Rilke poem Robert Bly has translated: “This is how he grows – by being defeated, decisively, by ever greater beings.”
by Marc Ian Barasch
I know the routine. I have been here before. It never dawned on me somehow that I would be here again. I thought it was over, for the most part anyway. I did not realize that it could recur, become activated, come out of hiding, whatever the term is. But it has. I am in it again.
Each day when I wake and my feet hit the floor there is that moment when I am taking inventory. Dizzy, oh no, not again today. Not dizzy, chance of a good day. I check my physical symptoms the way people check the weather.
There is no doubt that this has been my own personal Magical Mystery Tour. From the moment it began my life changed in every possible way and the journey, the search for more than an answer, for more than a healing, began.
It is hard to imagine but it is one of the basic truths I learned, not everyone is coming on this journey with me. People deathly afraid of their own vulnerability, their own mortality, will ignore or even ridicule the very real and frightening experience you now find yourself thrown into. Believe me you don’t have the time or the strength for this kind of bullshit. Time becomes more precious than you ever could imagine. During those, not even days but moments when you might feel just a glimmer of what it is to be normal, you are not interested in spending it with those who are living in the land of denial. You are fighting for you life.
The loving and compassionate ones in your life become even more loving and compassionate. This is one of the jewels along the path. Ones you thought would be there you find are there only when you can continue to be the life of the party, the fun girl, wild and raring to go.
Where has she gone?
She has slipped quietly into the underworld and when and if she emerges, she shall never be the same. The underworld is dark and scary, totally unfamiliar, no sign posts, filled with monsters and goblins and things out to get you.
How strong are you?
Can you see they are like the boogey man, or the monster under the bed?
Can this be real?
Can I navigate my way in this pitch black strangeness?
I don’t think so.
And yet I do it, day after day, minute by minute. We all do it. We have tumbled down the rabbit hole and absolutely nothing will ever look or be the same.
That first journey lasted over ten years. Then after much upheaval inner and outer, the magic began. Oh it was there all along but it was way too hard to see in the dark, beyond the monsters and goblins, but it was always there. The journey through illness took me deep into the quiet, deep into myself, to face all of who I am, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Was I strong enough?
Was I afraid?
But I am a warrior. We all are. Every battle is different and unique to each person. Every journey through the darkness has glimmers of stunningly beautiful light and in that light there is magic. For the light is divine and so are we. So the divine literally showed up in my life and another completely unfamiliar journey began. I have lived through the darkest night and I have lived through the magic of the pure divine light and I have lived them side by side, for that is where they always are even though we cannot see through the darkness.
As miracles began to make themselves known to me I began to feel better as the worst symptoms began to subside. Yes there were still signs that all was not completely well but my eyes were on the light and I was in such gratitude for such heavenly glimpses and restoration of most of my health. Miracles were everywhere.
I marched on, never forgetting the lonely and dark journey, thankful for the lessons along the way and the gift of the magic. But when the physical symptoms began to return it was a frightening feeling. I could sense this was the same energy. It was back. In some ways I suppose it is easier. I now know the territory. It is familiar. In other ways it seems much harder to bear because I know the territory.
So what in the end does a girl who has been on A Magical Mystery Tour think about it all? I guess I have learned a few things and some things I may just never know. I am still on the journey. I must say it is rather interesting that an illness took me completely out of my life and into another way of seeing and being. It took me on a dark and hellish ride and rode me right into the light of a magnificent mystical adventure. It’s been quite a ride.
I am not at all sure what to make of this recurrence and what it means in my life. Sometimes I feel this is Part 2 and perhaps the illness happening again is the precursor to the divine magic showing up once again. I know that whatever you think it is it usually is not. The divine is in charge. I do know I am loved, protected and never alone. When I think I do not have the strength to carry on I am showered with strength and renewed hope. Still I must make my way on this earth through the toughest days but I always know all is in perfect divine order whether I understand it or not.
I know for sure that what we overcome in our lives is not just for ourselves but resonates out into the world. Illness has a purpose and a meaning in the spiritual world far beyond what we can even imagine. We are transforming through our physical bodies enormous energies. It is a job of the physical and the spirit. We are working in unison with heaven and earth. It is a big, big job. Whether we continue to work in this way or a healing takes place or we leave this physical world, all is divine. All we have to do is do the best we can. Be our true selves and believe. Believe in the magic.
Here are some of the things I have learned along the way.
Surround yourself with funny people. I am loaded with them and I am pretty darn funny myself.
Let go of everything because it is mostly going to go anyway. This was my hardest lesson. This means everything you thought your life was supposed to be, everything and anything that you think defines you or your life – jobs, people, houses, cars, just about everything. The illness is just the beginning of the big letting go.
See through new eyes and recognize all the miracles taking place around you because even in your darkest hours they are happening.
Be thankful for all the miracles big and small.
Recognize all the blessings you have in your life.
Stop worrying about what is going to happen because there are answers to these things already in the works that you cannot see and could never dream of.
Learn to be alone and to like it. Liking being alone means you like yourself.
When you talk to yourself and are saying all kinds of negative things stop and say something positive and loving to yourself.
Do not watch the news.
Do not listen to all the people who think they know why you are sick. This is between you and God.
Trust your intuition to know what is right for you. Even through fear and confusion you will know.
Make a commitment to honor your spiritual life each and every day. The divine loves commitment.
Have one person you can really talk to. Keeping up pretenses with everyone is exhausting.
Trust that your journey has a magnificent divine purpose.
Cry when you feel the need to. A good cry is very cleansing.
Find a creative outlet. You have gifts just waiting to emerge that you never even knew you had.
Be of service in any way that you can. Contribute to a worthy cause.
Write. Start a journal and write every day.
Breathe deep, deep breaths. Breathe in loving and healing energy. Breathe out all that does not serve you. Do this all day long.
Surrender – Let your prayer be Thy will be done.
Stay in the moment. Be present to everything.
Notice the beauty and sweetness in things you once took for granted.
Spend time with children and animals.
Spend as much time in nature as you can. Sit with your back against a tree. Swim in the ocean. Walk barefoot on the earth. Gaze at the stars.
Give your love freely and unconditionally. Receive the love that surrounds you. Tell the people you care about how you feel about them. Say the loving things you are thinking.
Speak your truth.
Remember you are a divine being with a divine mission.
Know there are divine beings so close to you, loving you, guiding you and strengthening you. You are never alone. Open your mind and heart to the unseen world.
Believe it with all your heart.