Being chronically ill often provides the experience of a step forward into feeling better and then falling back into a rush of symptoms. This occurred multiple times with me as I journeyed forward toward wellness and well being. How we respond to this phenomena can greatly impact our quality of life and the path back to taking a step forward.
Consider that most of us are born well. The foundation of our being is solid and balanced and supports the expression of wellness. We go forward living our lives, contributing to the state of our foundation by either nourishing or depleting it, in some combination thereof. We contribute to it with thoughts, feelings, perceptions, nutrition, rest, activity, exposure to chemicals, exposure to pathogens and so on. When we find ourselves unwell, our foundation is uneven, and the symptoms of this are reflected like the cracks in the walls of a building. In all appropriateness, we tend to the symptoms and hopefully, at the same time, work at re-leveling the foundation so that the sealed up cracks in the walls do not reopen.
[For those born into illness, the journey is not about restoring a previously balanced foundation, it is about newly creating a balanced foundation. In either scenario, we are automatically drawn to re-identify with the nature of who we truly are…whole and complete, wellness and well being.]
But re-leveling a foundation takes time and effort. As we address one part of the foundation it has an impact on the whole structure as it resettles on it’s new level. This is the two steps back experience.
In the last year of my illness I had a number of realizations, each one clearing out some belief I’d been carrying around for a good part of my life. There was the instant exhalation at being liberated, each time bringing forward an intense experience of well being. As I responded to life with a new sense of happiness, there were times when my symptoms abated to some degree, at other times I was just less focused on them since my attention was fully on the new realization. But shortly after each of those realizations, I found myself in the two steps back experience. Over time I recognized the pattern and was less fearful of the cycle.
I had a variety of thoughts and beliefs about those cycles, such as; perhaps this was a full on relapse taking me back to square one (it often felt like it), perhaps this was me removing a lumpy ‘object’ from my foundation and everything in the ‘building’ was re-adjusting. I allowed myself to wear each of these ideas like clothing, surrendering to the experience they provided, knowing that neither was right or wrong, just a choice. What I noticed was that the fearful perspective served to take me deeper into identifying with illness, and the loving, compassionate perspective had me identify with my true Self. Since I’m at the source of how I experience life, I preferred to choose compassion. Sometimes I didn’t. I’m perfectly human.
There is always a choice. And we are free to choose. Any choice we make, when surrendered to fully, provides an opportunity for revelation and growth.
To this day I am aware that I’m more sensitive to dietary changes and the ups and downs that come with living a balanced or unbalanced life. Is my body weaker (more sensitive) because of a long term illness? Am I more sensitive because I pay more attention to my physical/emotional experience? Have I evolved out of self-neglect into a more self-honoring way of being? The real answer is, “I don’t know”. But I choose to be open to the possibility that as I continue to develop the muscle of being self-honoring, I will automatically be more aware of the subtle shifts in the expression of wellness and well being. It translates into my life as an experience of kindness to myself.
You are invited to investigate for yourself what supports you in your evolution. Go easy on yourself through the process. You can’t fail at being human.