CK was delighted with my success at public speaking. We both felt it was a major milestone accomplished. Riding on the momentum of this success, it was time for me to face some difficult issues I’ve been trying to avoid—namely, how I saw myself. I was still having major issues with seeing myself as a powerful, healthy person who could speak her mind. The following are several questions that summed up my next challenges:
-Can I truly see myself as a healthy person?
-If others see me as healthy, what will they expect of me?
-Do I have the confidence to say “no” to something without a lengthy explanation?
-Are issues from my childhood still holding me back?
-Now that I have a voice, do I have the emotional strength to use it to express how I feel?
For years my husband and I were the “go-to” people in our church for big functions. This meant that we were often in charge of set-up/clean up/cooking for hundreds of people. When I was healthy I used to enjoy doing these events—many of which were at our home. But trying to struggle through them sick and without breath made each one a death march for me. My husband was healthy and loved serving in this capacity, which made it extremely difficult for me to say no. He would always cover for me when I was really bad, but the guilt would weigh on me—we always worked together on these events. Added to this was the fact that we had his mother living with us, so naturally, all the family functions were at our home since she no longer went anywhere. It was a giant, difficult bundle of guilt and obligation that I was struggling with . . . and it was time to face it.
There were many times that CK and I would discuss some of these questions. She helped me see that having emotional issues weigh on me directly affected my health. Several times when I would come to see her I would begin by telling her of some physical problem I was having—I feel heavy, my breathing is off, I can’t seem to find any energy, everything feels like I’m getting sick. [I kinda sound whiny, huh? I’m sure I was…] Always the first question she would ask me is “What are you holding on to?” or “What do you need to say?” It would stop me in my tracks! “No,” I would say, “this is my body—I think I’m getting sick.” Then she would remind me that it is all connected. If I had an emotionally disturbing experience—big or small—that I feel I didn’t take care of, it’s going to weigh me down, cause my physical being to feel the negativity. I would think through my past few weeks and most always it would go back to some exchange or experience that left me feeling bad. We’d talk about it—do I have power over it or not, and what can I do now to let go of its power over me.
Now, there will always be those times when our bodies just get sick. But to learn this level of self-awareness that allows me to manage my emotions and their effect on me physically, and then find my way from powerless and voiceless to a position of strength was what I needed. To put it simply, there were things I needed to let go of and I needed help.
CK suggested I see a specific hypnotherapist who specialized in guided visual imagery. At first, I was hesitant, but everything CK had me do up to this point had worked perfectly for my healing, so I agreed to go. I saw this therapist three times and my experience each time was powerfully healing. These were personal experiences that would not be appropriate to share publicly, but I will share what I learned about myself:
-That I have the strength and power to save myself from my past.
-That to be myself is enough.
-And that from this strength and acceptance I will have a firm foundation under me.
These might seem like simple things to some, but for me to feel and see myself with each of these points was a life altering experience. My body had made major progress toward becoming healthy and strong and it was time for my subconscious to catch up . . . because it’s all connected.
Having made this progress, I was able to manage my emotions better—see more clearly what I had control over and what I didn’t. Things became easier and more proportionate. For example, if someone asked something of me that just wasn’t right for me to give at the time, I would tell them no—without guilt, shame or a ridiculously long explanation. It was okay for me to manage and control my time and energy because I was worthy of that type of care. I didn’t have to find my worth by doing everything for everyone at a tremendous personal cost to me. This shift in perspective didn’t happen all at once—I had to feel my way through it. But it was so much easier—and felt right—because I could see myself as a healthy, powerful person with a voice.
Since this point in my healing to the present day, I’ve had some great experiences that have proven to me that these points that I learned are healthy and good and allow me freedom…I don’t feel trapped with no voice. I’ve lived so many years feeling physically that I’m suffocating, and emotionally suffocating, as well. Since I no longer feel physically lacking control over my breathing, it’s nice to have that same control over my emotional self. What I say with my precious voice is just as important as the breath I use to produce the words…it’s all connected. As you would imagine, there have also been some learning experiences along the way. I’ve had to establish some healthy boundaries that have been difficult, but oh so worth the effort and pain. Throughout all of this, my husband has been my biggest cheerleader, helping me do “the hard thing” when it came time to say no and set boundaries. He always encouraged me to stand up for myself and speak my mind, making all this hard stuff just a little easier.
Now it’s time for a funny experience about me being strong and standing up for myself…or perhaps I should say “facing the beast?” As I mentioned before, we have cows, chickens, and a dog and I was worried about the Pilates peeps learning about this. I did let the cat out of the bag and surprisingly they all thought this was great! It made me a sort of rock star when I brought them all fresh eggs and raw honey [I got the honey from a neighbor] so I could rest my fear about being kicked out. All the people I worked with at AZ Body Mechanics became dear friends and I love them to this day.
A few weeks ago, of course when Rick was gone, our bull—I’ve named him The Stupid Bull—got out. Our property is a little larger than an acre, so TSB was enjoying himself, destroying our backyard. I called Rick and he told me to not do anything, stay inside, and he’ll be home in a few minutes. So I stood at our back window, fuming as I watched TSB destructively frolic about. But when he started attacking our fence between our property and our neighbors, the Scotts, I blew a gasket! Our dear neighbors are an elderly couple I’ve known my whole life, she had been sick and he doesn’t get around that good anymore. The last thing they needed what TSB to head-butt their fence to the ground and destroy their backyard. Clad in my capris, t-shirt, and trusty flip-flops, I went outside, grabbed the first thing I could see, which happened to be a partially deflated RED soccer ball [yes…I see how stupid this is now…but I was so mad at TSB!] and snuck up behind him and nailed him in the head with the RED soccer ball. I hadn’t thought through my plan past this point [yes…I know that was stupid] so I was just a little shocked when TSB turned, snorted, pawed the ground and charged me.
Maybe some of you have had super-de-duper dangerous experiences where all sorts of things are supposed to be going through your mind…but, instead, your mind focuses on some random thing? So instead of my life flashing before my eyes as I ran half the length of our property with TSB right behind me, all I could think of was “Wow….I’m really running fast! Listen to my flip-flops go. And I’m breathing great! I’ve got to tell CK and the ladies at the gym about this.” I made my way into my back French doors and did a stare-down with TSB for a few minutes, and then he wandered off and started destroying something else.
I probably wouldn’t have said anything to my husband about this, but unbeknownst to me, a couple of neighbor men had seen that TSB got out and were at the end of our property coming to help…and witnessed my super-stupid soccer ball attack. My husband got home about then and with the help of these men, got TSB back in his pen. And, of course, these men told my husband all about my super-stupid soccer ball attack. My husband is one of the most patient and kind men I know, but it took him a second or two to calm down. Then he reminded me that he was so happy that I feel physically strong and that he was so grateful that I feel like I can face hard things and that he’s delighted that I can stand up for myself…but if I EVER do something like this again he’ll not be happy or delighted AT ALL. I agreed.
Attached is a picture of me, armed with my trusty straw, making amends with TSB. My husband took the picture and made me put the straw in my mouth because it deserved some credit: if I’m going to do super-stupid soccer ball stunts then there should be credit given to what has helped me breathe and be healthy enough to survive these stunts….ha! Anyone who reads this, please don’t ever throw a partially deflated RED soccer ball at an angry bull…it’s REALLY stupid. But I have to say there’s some small part of me that is happy that I didn’t feel completely powerless in the situation…even though it was REALLY stupid.
All kidding aside, I’m grateful for CK’s comprehensive approach to my healing and her suggestion to see a hypnotherapist. It allowed me to cover some emotional ground quickly…and it was a good thing because more changes were on the horizon: due to insurance issues my time with CK and Pilates were coming to an end, at least officially. What would be my next steps in healing?