Thursday, May 12, 2011

I wasn’t born this way.

One of the comments I often hear from folks—friends, clients and colleagues--is some variation of “you must have been raised this way”. “This way” refers to my affinity for holistic practices in my life. The truth is I have a completely mainstream background. I wasn’t born this way—I got here through experience, a lot of education--or more correctly re-education and personal evolution. 

I was raised like most kids in the 60s and 70s. I mostly grew up in a variety of Connecticut suburbs (we moved a lot) where I lived with my parents and my brother and sister and our various pets. My mother worked full time, but my father was home (okay—that’s different, but not insofar as this post is concerned). Because my mom worked, I made dinner every night from the age of ten. Dinner was the standard fare of meatloaf, pork chops, mac and cheese, chicken, steak, and potatos and a side vegetable, albeit made from scratch and yet to be infiltrated by Monsanto with GMO crops or laden with the factory-farmed chemicals of today. We went to McDonalds maybe twice a year as a “treat”, did not drink soda or eat much junk food of any kind (too expensive). But we ate margarine instead of butter, “processed cheese food” and instant milk (all because it was cheap). Still, overall we had far less processed or junk food than other kids even then, but only because it was what our parents could afford and what we were used to. But I cringe now when I think of all that margarine!

As an infant, I was apparently “colicky”, having been artificially-fed Carnation condensed milk and karo syrup. I had all the standard vaccines of the day. I also had common childhood viruses like chicken pox and measles. Our parents took us to doctors when we really sick and were sadly among the hoards of parents who bought into the lie that removing tonsils kept kids from getting sick. For the most part, though, I think we had far fewer medications than kids do today and maybe even fewer than a lot of other kids then. I know I got a certificate just about every year in school for perfect attendance.

But, other than cod liver oil, baking soda for hives, boric acid for eye infections and salt water for stomach aches, my parents were not exactly of any holistic mindset. My mother did buy “whole wheat” bread, if that counts. But, another cringe moment comes when I think of all that mercurochrome used for cuts and scrapes.

When I was seventeen, I watched a movie in high school English about slaughterhouses. I became a vegetarian that day. Granted, I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t do it well, but I was young and strong and healthy and did okay for awhile. I ate a lot of yogurt, peanut butter and mac & cheese. I did not stay healthy for long.

I was completely on my own from the age of 18 and married at 20. My college years were plagued by intense emotional stress, as my father was dying, my brother and sister were going through their own crises and I was unable to keep my focus on my education. During my early twenties, I began to really feel the strain and was hospitalized for severe dehydration and anemia. In hindsight I think that was the first time my adrenals were really spent.

Over the next few years I got progressively sicker. I had brain scans and ultrasounds and saw more than a dozen doctors. I had unbelievable migraines that sometimes lasted for days; I had more days with them than without them. I had intense pain during ovulation that escalated to the point where it was seriously debilitating for me. No one had any idea why I was so sick and in so much pain. I was medicated and medicated some more. I took more drugs during those 5 years of my life than in the rest of my life and my children’s lives combined.

A remarkable fact that most everyone I know finds shocking and that I cannot now imagine having made manifest was that I never planned to have children. From the time I was in my late teens, I was clear that I would never have children and when I married, my husband had accepted my decision. But, the Universe has interesting ways of turning us on us our heads and healing our emotional wounds in ways we may not expect. I think everyone has meaningful experiences like these, but we too often deny their importance in our lives, as we tend to be enculturated to separate the spiritual from the experiential. My life has held too much magic for me to do that and so I do not.

When I was 26, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I did not seek a diagnosis for infertility as is so often the case, but rather because the pain I experienced monthly for almost three years had become so debilitating that I was taking very powerful narcotics just to get by, and each month they were becoming less and less effective. Finally, I had a diagnostic laparoscopy.

While I was in the recovery room at the hospital, I woke to a baby crying. To this day, I can still hear that baby’s cry. It disturbed me so badly that I asked the nurse over and over again what was wrong with him and why no one was attending to him. She repeatedly told me that he fine, but I did not believe her. My agitation about him would continue for days.

As my surgery was purely diagnostic, it was a simple out-patient procedure. After I spoke with the doctor, I was able to go home for the rest of the day. My conversation with that doctor was another gift that I would not understand for some time. He was, to say the least, cold and detached. He had not idea that I did not want children and offered little hope that I might ever be able to conceive without extensive medical intervention. I thought at the time that is was his demeanor that caused me such grief, but in hindsight, I know it was because something very primal and significant in my heart had been awakened that day. The contrast of his chill nature with the immediacy of the infant’s cry for help set in motion a complex series of events that to this day I cannot fully explain.

When I went home, I laid on my couch to read the issue of Vegetarian Times that had been in my mailbox. In it there was an article about homeopathy, a healing modality that I had never heard of. I have no idea why I did this, but I phoned the number for the National Center for Homeopathy that I found at the end of the article. I was given the names of four physicians in Connecticut who practiced homeopathy. I phoned the one closest to me geographically. Within minutes, I had made an appointment, with absolutely no idea as to what I might expect. The doctor had been very clear with me that he had never treated endometriosis, but also explained that from a homeopath’s perspective, this did not matter at all. Homeopathy restores the vital force and supports balance and healing. It does not treat a particular disease. I have no idea why I believed him, but I did.

From that moment on, I began to have exceptional experiences with healing that I began to refer to as “recognition”. It was as if I simply knew when something was right or not. There was no need for rationalizing or proving I was right. When it came to my own well-being, I just knew exactly what was right, something I had never really experienced before. It was like recognition, seamless and obvious.

Within a year of beginning homeopathic treatment and making nutritional changes (my first improvement was that I stopped eating all dairy), I was well and pregnant with my first child. Once you are awake, you are awake. You cannot put the knowing back away because it is inconvenient or challenging. "If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up." J.M. Power

I was awake and no matter how I was born, this was who I was becoming. The amazing healing and support for wellness that my family has experienced using holistic practices has been a gift I would be delighted to see anyone embrace. So, when folks look at my life and think “well you can do that but I cannot” or “it’s easy for you, but not for me”, I know they are simply not ready. And that’s fine. The day I was ready, all the Universe lined up and one awareness after another flooded into my consciousness. It just seems to work that way.

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