Friday, May 27, 2011

In sickness and in pain

"All sickness and pain is there to show you the way you are going in your life is not the way to go. "  

--Inna Segal, at Seattle Unity Church

I have not been myself this week. Or, maybe I have. In any case, I have been sick and in pain.

It started this weekend with swollen glands and a bad taste in my mouth. At first, there were no other symptoms and I just figured I was fighting something off. On Monday night, that "something" won.

By dinnertime, I was wiped out. Completely exhausted. I got the kids ready for bed, set their alarm for 9:30 pm and told them to put themselves to bed (my husband was out for the evening) when it went off. Then I crawled into bed and went to sleep.

I woke up Tuesday morning still feeling lethargic, swollen and achy so I called in sick to work and lay on the couch all day. By that evening I felt a little bit better and on Wednesday even better still.

Thursday it was going to be back to the routine: kids to school, me to work, dinner, baseball, etc. Except...

When I woke up Thursday morning I couldn't turn my head without feeling a shooting pain up my neck. When I took a breath it was the same.

I persevered and made it through the day. Last night I hit the couch again and after that I felt a little bit better, but this morning it's pain in the neck time again and I am feeling a little bit anxious - despairing - frustrated - sad - put upon - down - about it.

I have lost almost a whole week to pain and sickness now. Isn't it time to be "done?"

Obviously not.

This morning I remembered that I had heard a quote recently about pain and sickness. Did I write it down?

Ah, yes, here it is....."All sickness and pain is there to show you the way you are going in your life is not the way to do."

Great! So just what is it I am doing wrong?

When my throat was swollen I was willing to consider that this was a call to speak my truth. I have trouble calling in sick for work. I feel like I somehow don't deserve to, or that I am letting everyone down, that they won't believe I am really sick and that they will think less of me and punish me for it.

Where did I learn this? From the mid-western women I grew up with. I don't think I ever saw either of my grandmothers take a break, take it easy, take a sick day. They pushed on through with chores and meals and laundry no matter how they were feeling.

As a child my mother always encouraged us to "try" to go to school even when we weren't feeling well. To push on through with reading, writing and arithmetic no matter how we were feeling. I do the same thing with my kids. And that's okay in some ways.

Life is, to some degree, about pushing on through, about making the best of it, about "doing" even when you don't feel like it. The problem though, is when it becomes all about that.

Admitting I am sick, admitting I need a break, admitting I just can't do it today is really, really hard for me. It feels like letting others down, it feels like a cop-out, it feels like failure. 

According to Louise Hay, in her book, "You Can Heal Your Life," pain in the area of the cervical spine can be caused by the following thoughts and emotions: fear, confusion, feeling not good enough (check); indecision, out of balance with life (check); accepting blame for others, guilt, indecision, biting off more than one can chew (check); repressed anger, bottled-up feelings, repressed tears (check); fear of expression, rejecting one's good, overburdened (check); burdens, overload, trying to fix others, resistance, inflexibility (check, check, check, check, check).

I can recognize myself in all of these feelings and states of being. My whole neck has been taken hostage by The Universe to show me what I need to change in my life. It feels like the answer is: EVERYTHING.

But the problem is, I don't know what to do, where to start, what to do next. Ironically, I am paralyzed by my pain, which does not make it easy to think clearly and make a move.

Maybe that's the whole point. Maybe thinking is not what is called for here. Maybe I have relied too much on thinking, planning, figuring things out and moving forward from there. Maybe it is time to feel: the paralyzing pain, the uncomfortable feelings, everything I have tried NOT to feel for the past forty years.

Last night as I went to sleep I was thinking all of the above, feeling all of the above, and then I stopped. I lay down and just started to breathe, slowly and deeply, in and out, in and out.....and for a few seconds I felt.....okay. Peaceful. Protected. I felt GOD.

For the first time in my life I felt like God was there, in my heart, and that everything was going to be okay. I felt the Peace of God in my heart. And it was good.

Maybe this pain and this sickness is showing me that the way I am going in my life is not the way to go, maybe it is showing me the way, maybe it is showing me the way to God.


  1. Do not try to become anything.
    Do not make yourself into anything.
    Do not be a meditator.
    Do not become enlightened.
    When you sit, let it be.
    What you walk, let it be.
    Grasp at nothing.
    Resist nothing.

    If you haven't wept deeply, you haven't begun to meditate.

    - Ahjan Chah

  2. Love that last line. Thank you Jefferson - beautiful....PS Have you seen Kung Fu Panda 2 yet? AWESOME!!!