Reflection on 2017 so far…

 

Last week I completed a 15 question health reflection given by a leading Hashimoto’s author.  It was easy to quickly realize the themes.  One question was about a word to describe 2017 so far.  My word is growth.

With a chronic illness, it’s so easy to feel like your life is putting out fires.  The setbacks can be overwhelming, because you know they aren’t going to end.  You never get a vacation from your illness (even if you go on vacation!)

But what this reflection invited me into was a reflection on my entire year.  This year I’ve committed to a yoga practice, and I’m still far from flexible, but I have a really strong practice.  There’s definition in my calf muscles again!  And I have really strong arm muscles–actually in proportion to my leg strength.  That’s a new thing for me.  In a massage session, my therapist asked me if I was a swimmer in my past life.  I laughed and said, “No a runner.  With big thighs and skinny arms.  Yoga has given me the arms and shoulders that I have now.”  It feels really good to have an athletic outlet again.

This year I visited Omaha, Nebraska and went on a weekend silent retreat that was pivotal in experiencing silence in community.  It was important to me to meet other 20 and 30 somethings that were cultivating a contemplative practice.  And since this weekend, my spiritual practices have grown and shifted.  They are more aligned with who I am, what I need, and how I go back into the world as a healing presence.  And I will be going back on retreat here next year.  Gravity Center facilitates hope and healing–the work they do is beautiful.

I read so much and I love that!  I read 2-3 books/week.  And people ask how I do it.  I don’t know.  I just have to rest a lot–and I prefer reading to watching TV just about any day, so a lot of reading gets done.

I’m moving again for a better environment for my health.  Better air quality.  New.  Less carpet.  No mold.  While this has been stressful, it will feel great once I’m moved in (which is this week!)

I quit two jobs that I needed to.  And I started my own tutoring business!  I haven’t written much about this on the blog yet.  But yes, Staying Power Resources launched this summer.  I continue tutoring students with learning differences, and have a more flexible schedule more myself.

I posted about the female healers in my life, and entering back into massage and acupuncture.  I posted publicly about my assault.

Through my circumstances, in being invited to change directions, I’ve been invited to grow.  By necessity, growth is awkward and clumsy, and in the process I’ve raised so many questions and seen so much doubt.  I was thinking that healing might mean that I enter back as a classroom teacher again.  And I’m learning that’s a dream that will not come to fruition as I saw it in my mind.

I’m learning about the severity of my mold toxicity, and the unpredictability of Indiana weather and which buildings I can go into and which ones I can’t.  I’m going to write much more about this in the future.

While I’ve made great gains, I’ve also been fatigued for a good part of this year.  In the winter, I felt great.  And once the late spring hit, I’ve really been quite exhausted ever since.

So many interesting questions surface when my health is deteriorating, and everything feels like its in transition.  Job. Home. Health.  Future.

Survival questions like:

  • Can I make it?
  • Do I have enough energy not to quit my business as soon as I started it?
  • If this doesn’t work, then what next?
  • To what extent can I heal?

The questions are real.  And yet so is my growth.  So is all the risk of this year, so is all the loss.  A very human adventure.  With many twists and turns, decisions I wasn’t ready to make and yet was thrust in a certain direction anyway.

Here’s to more risk.  More adventure.  More growth.

 

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When a Smile Slips In

This last week has been a difficult one.  Getting ready for yet another move.  Having strong mold reactions to my apartment.  Finding another place to stay so I can keep working.  Missing people and weekly rituals.  Crying a lot, because my body is so tired, and that’s all I can seem to do sometimes.

However, I’ve found enough strength for each day.  And as I went to work every day, I was met by the smiles of kids, of their observations that brought me into a different world.  One student is a keen observer of animals.  During our lessons, he would tell me what bird was flying through the backyard.  He would watch for the hummingbird at the feeder.

Others gave me book recommendations!  (And these are students who don’t like to read very much! 🙂  Yet, one story almost brought me to tears.  One parent told me that as she told her son about some changes happening at school, including more time being pulled out of the classroom to work on reading, he responded, “But mom, I just want to move far away, and live on a farm and work the land.  You don’t need to read to be able to do that.”

He continued, “I don’t need a fancy house or fancy cars, but I just want to live with the animals and adopt some of them.”  While the mom thought the innocence of her son was touching, she went on to tell him, that while his life plan sounded nice that the world revolves around money.

My student, her son, reached out gently, touched his mom’s arm and said, “No mom, the world revolves around friendship.”

I almost cried, but then I smiled.  This student can be very difficult, yet he has a soft heart.   He’s empathetic and sees the world through the eyes of one who struggles.  The poor in heart, those who are often left out and forgotten, who are constantly vulnerable and live on the fringes–they really do see God.

Why I Wrote About My Assault

To be honest, one day I just starting writing different scenes down-and out they came.  None of those posts took a long time to write at all.

I’m learning to lean into my body and my intuition, and my intuition simply told me that it was time to write.  I had been quiet long enough.  And I was ready.

Quite honestly in being publicly quiet for two years, I felt the weight of patriarchy.  I felt that those in power wanted me quiet.  When a lawyer-and a female lawyer at that-wouldn’t take my case, I was faced with the powers that wouldn’t take a case unless they knew they could win.  I was faced with the politics and the money, and the question, “Who will speak for me?”  The answer that became real to me as I healed was that I must speak for myself.

I’ve been following the Larry Nassar case since last fall.  Too many details were the exact same.  And USA Gymnastics’ headquarters are in Indy.  Both of the details mattered to me.  I knew that I lived in a state where a lot of cover-up was happening.

As I engaged in yoga, meditation, and started going to a massage therapist, I was able to be more grounded in the present and let go.  I could write about the assault and not have it scare me so much.  It still was painful, but dealing with trauma and injustice always is.  However, I could separate from the past and present-which was absolutely necessary before I started writing.  I also learned to trust being in a healing space which was actually healing.  I learned to let my body speak and direct me again.

I wrote to heal  myself.  I also wrote for all those who have experienced sexual assault at the hands of a doctor.

Also, I believe that vulnerability encourages vulnerability.  I may never know the effects of sharing my story, but that part doesn’t really matter.  Showing up in our story makes all of us more human.  I wrote because it was time that I show up in my story more fully, to let my intuition guide me, rather than follow culture’s lead of living in my head.

Vignette #4

This is my fourth post about my sexual assault by a doctor.  The posts do not necessarily go in chronological order, but it’s helpful if you first read my post on healing ,  Vignette #1 , Vignette #2, and Vignette #3.

I went to talk with a female lawyer, based upon a referral.  I sat in a big conference room in her office building in downtown Indianapolis, and waited for her to enter.  With warmth and ease, she greeted me, and told me that I could take my time and she would be taking notes.

She noted every comment of sexual harassment, the assault itself, and any detail about the setting and the doctor’s demeanor that I could remember.  Then came the dreaded question, that I knew was going to be asked, although she pulled it off well.

“Did you tell her to stop?”

“No, I didn’t.  I told her I was in pain, but I didn’t tell her explicitly ‘No’ or ‘Stop.'”

“Why?”

“I knew that she wouldn’t.  Two sessions before, I told her that she was using too much pressure when she massaged my leg, but she ignored my comment and kept using the same amount of pressure. She didn’t seem to have too much consideration for the amount of pain I happened to be in.”

Before I was left, I was told that they would contact the clinic for my medical records, especially from that session, and that I would be getting a letter stating whether or not they would take my case.

I waited several weeks.  No letter.  I knew that the lawyer’s assistant, who was a nurse, had research to do about whether or not what was done to me was a “legitimate” medical procedure.  So I waited some more.

Finally, it came.  About a month later.  She would not take my case.

I remember just staring at the letter for about 5 minutes wondering,

What do I have to do to be believed?

How do you live and heal with a lack of justice?

I felt in my body extreme tension, especially in my jaw and shoulders.

The weight of being a victim.

The weight of feeling powerless.

The weight of knowing that choosing to tell my truth would be an uphill battle.