First off, I have to admit that I am a bit nervous to write this blog post. What I am about to share with you is somewhat of a personal issue for me, but I do believe that it carries a lot of value. As you are reading this, I am sitting at my mom’s house in the little town where I am from in Bavaria in Southern Germany. I was supposed to fly back to NYC with my boyfriend on January 2nd after we spent New Years with his wonderful family in Sweden (where he is from). However, he boarded the plane on his own and I flew to my growing up home near Munich.
The reason I changed my plans is because I have been having pretty excruciating back pain on certain, seemingly random, days. I have had this pain on and off since 2008, when I first found out that I have two herniated disks in my lower spine. When my pain increased again in the last two months, my dad, who is a doctor, suggested during Christmas that I should get proper, focused treatment.
Now, I am lucky that I am from an area in Bavaria where we have amazing natural hot water springs and incredible practitioners that offer a beautifully holistic and multi-faceted approach to healing. It might seem obvious to you what decision I should have and did make. However, this decision was not as easy as it sounds.
The thought of staying in Germany and going back into treatment was completely unexpected (at least for my conscious mind) and I had not fully admitted to myself the seriousness of the pain I was feeling and how much it, in fact, affected simple tasks in my daily life.
Sometimes it is more convenient to stay blind and “pretty talk” your own reality.
Have you ever been in a situation like that? And I don’t mean back pain specifically, but any situation that you deep down knew wasn’t quite right, but you kept going anyway, pretending like it wasn’t a significant problem? Maybe you remained in an unhealthy relationship for too long all the while trying to silence the bad stuff and hoping that things will just become better? Maybe you spent years in a career you hated convincing yourself that if you just push through a little longer things will become easier? Maybe you deep down know that the constant cycle of dieting then over-eating won’t lead you to a healthy relationship with food, but you feel too overwhelmed and are too pre-occupied with losing those 10 pounds fast?
We force, ignore, and fight to stay blind to the signals and the little aches our unconscious sends us until we reach a tipping point. This is the unexpected point where we have to admit that our excuses no longer hold, that something needs to shift, and that ignorance and pure willpower won’t lead us closer to our much anticipated glory.
This is what my struggle looked like in the past few weeks: When I first considered staying in Germany for 10 more days, my mind immediately blasted out a million reasons why I absolutely couldn’t extend my stay. These are some of the most prominent thoughts my tricky mind formulated:
- What will my clients say if I postpone the first appointment in 2013? I will lose them all.
- I have a new website to launch, I cannot be bothered now. This is important stuff.
- My cat has been sick and has an appointment two days after we get back. I have responsibilities.
- We are moving at the end of January and there is simply too much preparation that needs to happen.
- It’s not that bad, I am exaggerating.
- My back should just shut up and let me live my life.
- If I am in treatment, they might tell me things I don’t want to hear and it will all take way longer than 10 days. Not now.
While all of this was happening, I also spent my jet lagged mornings devouring Geneen Roth’s book “Lost and Found,” which I had bought at the airport in NYC before I came home for the holidays. (By the way, I am a huge believer that certain books find us for a reason at very specific times in our lives. Geneen Roth’s book could not possibly have found me at a better time.) The book dissects our unconscious choices specifically around money and food as well as feelings of guilt, shame, and discomfort, which often lead to self-deprivation and/or over-indulgence. While the book mostly focuses on money and food, there was one particular phrase that stood out to me like a burning red flag:
“The real specialness lies in the willingness to turn toward it [whatever the point of struggle is] instead of hiding from or reacting to it. To let yourself fully understand the extent to which you’ve rejected your own humanness.”
What aspect of my own humanness was I rejecting in this particular resistance to listening to my body and instead choosing to hide from what was really going on by having a mind filled with the above listed excuses?
So I turned to pen and paper; as I often do when I feel that I am on to something but am not yet able to give it clear expression. I began to dig and this is what came out as I was peeling away layer after layer:
Underneath my peripheral excuses I discovered a deep desire to feel so important in the lives of others that I cannot possibly be away for a week. Underneath that is a fear of losing control. Underneath that is a fear of showing weakness. Underneath that is a fear about needing to be taken care of, about being helpless, and about being damaged. Underneath that is a fear of being everything but the glowing, positive, and lovable woman I aspire to be. Underneath that is a belief that I am a caretaker only and am thus not allowed to be sick myself. The truth is that unless I look all these fears in the eyes, unless I allow others to take care of me, unless I make sure that I am healthy from the inside out and the outside in, and unless I embrace my own humanness fully, I will always aspire to be, but never truly be that glowing, positive, and lovable woman.
That is when I changed my flights. I surrendered to my reality and aligned with my body.
Today, I am on day 4 of my treatment at Johannesbad. I am feeling SO much better already and am learning so many interesting things about myself and my body (for example that I carry almost 20 pounds more weight on the left side of my body –now I have to learn how to distribute my weight evenly on both legs. Basically, I have to stand with both feet on the ground… pretty profound stuff?! Check out the picture on the right to see me practice just that). Throughout these past few days, I am witnessing again how much wisdom my body holds and am absolutely fascinated by the human body’s complexity. I am also feeling some serious love and gratefulness for my physical sensibilities. I am reminded that we have some pretty miraculous vehicles carrying us around in the world, every single day! This is such a great thought to have as 2013 is starting!!
I am telling you my story, because I know that so many of the wonderful and brilliant women and men I know are at times caught up in these unconscious cycles in which we reject our own humanness in one way or another. I am sharing my story, because I want to be open, transparent, and encouraging with my own experiences and step-by-step self-realizations. After all it is these realizations that nurture the relationship we have with ourselves… and what’s more important than that?!
With this in mind, here are a few questions to stimulate your inquiry:
1) When and in what circumstances do you reject your own humanness?
2) What are you currently hiding from or reacting to that has been trying to get your attention (think: recurring situations or people, pains, aches, intuitive calls…)
3) In what circumstances do you choose to remain blind by making excuses (ex. “I don’t have the time”, “I cannot afford it”, “When happens, I will…”, “I’m not ready/smart enough/in the right position to…”)
In the comments below, I would love to hear what you have to say, what you realized, what came up for you as you were reading this post.
Sending love from a rainy yet beautiful Bavaria. xo