January 1, 2016 - March 24, 2016
I went back to work in the beginning of the year. There were days that I didn’t feel good and it was back to the old struggle of taking 12 and 13 hours to get a full 8 hours of productive work in and there were days where it only took 9 hours.
I started toying around with the juicing part of the Gerson Therapy and did a few juices a day. I was still relying heavily on a lot of oils and fats for calories which don’t provide much in the way of nutrition as getting the calories from fruits and vegetables does. Gradually, I was able to add other foods back in, tolerate more volume, and decrease the fats for a more balanced diet and better nutrition.
I was also able to drive more and longer distances. I ran into a couple friends that I hadn’t seen in 5 years at a Sunday service. I told them I was staying in the area and they offered the huge basement of their house in Thurmont to me and my pooch, CJ. It was the perfect setup. One of the things I really missed about home was the warmth of a wood stove. And they had one in their basement. And they had wood! I became their woodstove-stoking basement troll and enjoyed heating up my soups and vegetables and tea, and making baked potatoes in the stove. Just like camping but a lot more comfortable!
My physical and mental health were improving but I knew I was not going to be ready to return home at the end of January, despite having promised Rachel I would. I wasn’t yet stable enough to manage on my own. I still sometimes relied on the yoga and Book and Bag group and Unity events and Lynn, Toni, and Debra to help me climb back up when I was down. And I still couldn’t get enough solitude. I knew if I returned home, I would just slip back into the darkness. So Rachel and I talked. She had started her own journey while I was down here. She was starting to see that my absence wasn’t about her and was gaining confidence in herself. We agreed that I would be away for as long as it took until I felt ready to go back home.
I continued the process of peeling back the layers. And I began to discover a pattern. I had a lot of conflict going on in myself. One of the major conflicts was around my own spirituality. I didn’t grow up going to church. The only churchification I’d gotten was through friends. Just after graduating high school, I met and got to know my biological father who shared the wisdom and understanding he’d acquired through the school of life and his own personal study and gave me the guidance I’d been starving for all my life. He wasn’t religious. He didn’t attend church. But he knew the bible inside and out and he knew many spiritual principles. By the fall semester of my junior year in college, I was so curious where in the world he was getting it from that I read the bible cover to cover over a couple months. I was so absorbed that I was skipping my college classes because I didn’t want to put it down.
Much of what I learned from my dad had a Unity flavor to it. In fact, it was indirectly through him that I found out about Unity. He had come across a booklet that was basically a super condensed version of the Course in Miracles and shared it with me. He was amazed at the similarities to his beliefs. Around the same time, I heard a friend mention Unity and Course in Miracles in the same sentence and started researching both which led me to Unity in Harrisburg and then through a friend to Unity in Frederick. However, while some of his thinking is unity-like, it’s also still peppered with a literal interpretation of the bible instead of seeing the bible as an evolution of man’s concept of God.
I’d been reading Unity authors like Eric Butterworth, Myrtle Fillmore, and Emily Cady for several years already. It made sense and resonated while I was reading it, but I didn’t let go of the beliefs I’d gotten from my dad that no longer fit into this mold. I was stuck between the two worlds - not willing to give up some of my dad’s way of thinking, nor fully embracing Unity because it meant giving up my dad as my spiritual answer key and required trusting myself and my own connection with God. Funny thing was that my dad had resigned from that position 7 or 8 years ago but I was still hanging on and kept him in a spot in my heart and mind that he no longer belonged and it was creating a divide between the two of us. I was seeing my life through his spiritual filters. Once I discovered this, I started seeing all the various ways this was impacting me. And once I let go, I could suddenly give myself permission to dive deeper into Unity and discover for myself what I believed or not.
I also discovered a bit of irony around one of the conflicts. I had spent 20 years happily single. Not even one date. I had no desire to be in a relationship. Why? A big reason was because all around me were these relationships where the couples bickered or were constantly correcting each other or would tear each other down. And if that’s what a relationship was, I wanted no part of it. Then 6 years ago Rachel showed up in my life. And it was more than I even imagined. We may occasionally disagree about something but we do it respectfully. We don’t pick at each other. We don’t cut each other down and try to pass it off as a joke. We support and encourage each other. This was what I imagined a relationship should be.
The ironic part is that as peaceful and loving as our relationship was and as unwilling as I was to have anything other than a loving relationship with another person, my relationship with myself was a war zone. It had developed gradually over the course of those 6 years. Rachel became this huge mirror of everything I wasn’t and should be and everything I was and shouldn’t be. I should be more responsible and disciplined about doing the dishes. I shouldn’t want to go backpacking alone. These weren’t coming from Rachel. These were my own expectations of myself. I wanted to give her the partner that she deserved and I wasn’t it and I was beating myself up over it.
So, throughout the illness, I knew the way out was changing my thinking. I had a book of quotes that I’d collected into a notebook and read when I was in fear mode to calm myself down. Bible verses, lines from Myrtle Fillmore and other favorite authors. Some of the quotes talked about the importance of our thoughts. Such as:
Proverbs 23:7 - “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Romans 12:2 - “...be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
Myrtle Fillmore: “Our body temples are the fruits of our minds. The truths that we hold in mind redeem and heal our flesh.”
Myrtle Fillmore: “That which we think of ourselves or others, or of creation in general, we build up the belief in and register in our souls and bodies. That which we habitually see mentally, our eyes begin to visualize, and the cell structures of the organs are affected and built according to the vibrations set up by the thoughts."
I understood these things on an intellectual level but not in practice. I didn’t fully understand what I needed to change about my thinking. I didn’t understand how deep the roots of my thoughts had gone. I didn’t understand that my thoughts are energy and my cells are energy and that my thoughts affect my body on that cellular level. That not only is it what I put in my body - what I eat, what I see, what I hear, what I smell, and what I put on my skin - that affects the function and performance of my cells but also what and how I think. That all that stuff gets registered and stored in my body. That my body is essentially my subconscious - the storage place of my external and internal life. And that it’s the character of those things that affect how my cells perform and how my genes express. And that if enough of my cells perform poorly, it will start to affect the organ or system of whatever those cells belong to and then suddenly an infection is able to take hold (like the intestinal infection that kicked off the illness) or something stops working right (like my GI system) or whatever the effect happens to be
Slowly, during my time in Frederick, these things became clear. And my thinking started to change. And the darkness continued to lift and the wheels stopped falling off my wagon whenever I didn’t feel good or had a setback. My health improved. Yoga got easier. And I started being able to drive the 2 hours to spend a weekend at home. And at some point I realized I was no longer favoring my right shoulder. I started using my right hand more and didn’t even realize when I’d started. And a tumor I’d had on my hand for years but never got checked and which doubled in size during the antibiotic hell of the previous year started getting smaller and next thing I knew it was gone
And then one day in March in the Book and Bag group, we got an assignment to do a vision board where you cut images out of magazines of what you want in your life in the categories of health, wealth, and relationships. I had no intention of doing it. I planned to stay on the outskirts of the circle and watch and listen to others present their vision board and continue hiding behind my quietness. Because I knew I couldn’t do it. Printing images of a person trail running or of the view from a 14,000 foot mountain peak would send me down into the darkness. I didn’t want to go there. Just seeing a person out for a jog as I drove past them was still a knife in the heart. Searching for and printing the pictures was too strong of a reminder that the things I love to do were still not even in sight yet
Then I went to an energy healing session with Debra and she asked how my vision board was coming. I told her it wasn’t. That I couldn’t do it and explained why. Somehow, she turned it around and made it doable for me. I gave in and said I’d give it a try. But that didn’t suffice. No. I had a couple hours to kill before my evening plans in Frederick and it didn’t make sense to run all the way back to Thurmont for an hour and then back in to Frederick. Her solution? “Run on down the road to Michael’s and pick up some poster board and supplies to create the vision board and hang out here and work on it in the interim while I’m working on my computer.” Sigh. Ok. I agreed to do it. But for the record, I still wasn’t thrilled about doing it. I only agreed because it meant I got to spend time with Debra. She’s one of those people who makes your day brighter just by being around her
Off to Michael’s I went. I got poster board, a box of crayons, and a glue stick. I contemplated getting old style Elmer’s glue so I could smear it on my hand and peel it off when it dried but I decided the prospect of using a glue stick for the first time in my life was more exciting. Then I grabbed some lunch at the Common Market and returned to Debra’s where I ate and sketched out some ideas on paper. It started to fall together. By the time I left, I had everything drawn on the paper that I wanted to include. All I needed to do was search Google for images, print the pictures, and paste them on the board.
I had bought an ultra cheap printer to have with me down here in Maryland since Rachel would still need the one at home. I discovered why it was so cheap. No color. A monochromatic vision board it would be. I searched Google and found my images, saved them to my hard drive, and printed them out according to the size I needed. I cut them out and started pasting them on the board. Then I added a little color around them with the crayons. I was done. Mission accomplished.
I stepped back and looked at the board admiring my handy work. It had actually been fun. Then it hit me. Holy @#$%!!!!! These were the gifts! The gifts of the illness! (See my first blog post.) Everything in the outer 2/3s of this board made it worthwhile going through the hell of the past 2.5 years. The understanding of:
The components of health and illness and the parallels between mind, body, and spirit.
How our health is also an extension of our environment.
The importance of our thoughts and how they affect us physically.
What being authentic means and why it’s important.
And when they come together and are in balance, the center column of the board happens. I cried happy tears. I was ready to go home.
Oh, but wait. No I wasn’t. On the way home from Sunday’s meditation and healing service at Unity, I realized I had a few more things to resolve before I left. First, I took out the suicide card and shredded the sucker. It wasn’t a way out after all. The only way out is through. The illness was part of my soul’s curriculum. Next, I called my dad. He knew Rachel and I had been living together for 5 years. But he’s a pro at sticking his head in the sand in some matters. I came out to him. And to my surprise, I wasn’t disowned. Rachel was invited to all future family get togethers.
It’s time to leave, Frederick friends. I’ll be heading home on Easter Sunday after the services. I’m currently back to about 75% on my good days and still have some healing to do. And I have the tools I need now to go home and finish the job. It’s been a wild ride. I’ve reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in years and I made new friends. Thank you for being such a welcoming and supportive and loving community! I will be back periodically and I look forward to getting to know you better (ahem: Mary, Jamie, Patty, Cassie, Deb L.). And a special thank you to Toni and Debra from the bottom of my heart for helping me pick the pieces up and reassemble them. I couldn’t have done it without you two!
So, I suppose this is my last blog post for a while. I plan on doing one more in 6 months or a year to update you on my progress.
And for your amusement, a summary of my stay:
3 pinky swears
$1609.52 spent at Mom’s and Common Market
6 reconnected friendships
Numerous new friendships
14 books read
1,021 miles driven
3 organic gardening workshops attended
1 happy and grateful Monica!