These thoughts I’m writing in this post have been in me for awhile; I just didn’t have the words. I needed to wander around for awhile before things started to make sense.
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s 2 1/2 years ago. I dove into my healing with tenacity-my anger had a healthy place to be channeled. The first many months revolved around lifestyle changes, doctor appointments, food prep and food reintroductions, and finding a supportive health community. The first 6 months after my diagnosis I took care of myself full time. I had no idea yet of how these practices were forming me.
After the physical changes seemed manageable, I dove into emotional healing–through spiritual direction, writing, therapy, yoga and meditation. Finding friends who could compassionately listen to the fact that chronic illness takes a heavy toll on my body. And being sick in a world created for healthy people is a daily challenge even on a good day.
What has taken the longest to articulate are the drastic spiritual shifts that have occurred. No doubt that all these aspects are interconnected. The combination of going back to therapy, starting a meditation practice, re-entering the world of bodywork as a patient, and writing publicly about my assault have launched me into the question, “Where is my intuition and vulnerability leading me?” I don’t really know the answer to this question, but at least for now, I’m writing this post. And this post speaks of the beginning of my journey into the Sacred Feminine.
75% of those affected by autoimmune disease are women. Researchers now know that in order to get an autoimmune disease, a “perfect storm” must present itself. 25% can be “blamed” on genes, yet 75% comes from a variety of environmental triggers-be it diet, leaky gut, a parasite or gut infection, stress, environmental toxins or mold. Someone could have the genes for an autoimmune disorder, but not have the disease “turned on” because the gut micro-biome is in good shape. (That is, my belief is that all autoimmune disease starts in the gut.)
The next question that surfaces is: “Could our lifestyle help these genes to not be “turned on” and have a full-blown autoimmune disease surface?
Well, if this is true, we have a lot of culturally pressures, that we must learn to resist, even if it feels almost impossible. But generally what do we as Americans give into?
Our over-structured, over-scheduled pace of life. Productivity. Efficiency.
Stress. Fear of Missing Out. Accumulating Stuff. Hiding Our Emotions.
Our body wasn’t meant to be this busy. And people intuitively know this if they would be honest with themselves. And this isn’t just about sick people.
We don’t know how to rest anymore. And most of us, feeling hopeless, just assume we have to succumb to the busyness and connectedness of the world that isn’t going to change.
But I want to step back and say that the subconscious of our nation is toxic. We have valued to the extreme, masculine ideals and neglected the feminine to our demise. Pushing harder and doing more and making money isn’t ultimately fulfilling. And my generation knows this. We long for authenticity, for stories, for ritual, for meaning.
What aspects of the feminine consciousness have we neglected?
(And when I say feminine consciousness, this exists in everyone!)
We have neglected the earth, our bodies, rest, emotions, intuition, and friendship.
When we neglect the earth, when we decimate forests, when we throw chemicals on crops, when we mistreat animals, we endanger ecosystems, create contaminated soil (rotating crops and not just making corn for high fructose corn syrup would be a good idea!) and contaminated food.
When we neglect the body, we live in a dull, numb, and painful state. We push too hard to be productive, to “make it” in today’s world, but we become deaf to our bodies’ cries.
When we neglect rest, we can no longer live in the moment. We lose the ability to cultivate gratitude and to unplug from external and internal demands the mind is constantly making.
When we neglect our emotions, we hold in or lash out in anger, bitterness, and resentment. Forgiveness of ourselves becomes impossible. Forgiveness of our enemy unthinkable.
When we neglect our collective intuition, we graduate smart people who have no empathy. We have doctors who believe that many women in this nation are hypochondriacs. We create a nation where many people suffer alone, because we don’t have guides of people following their intuition, or we don’t know how to find those people.
When we neglect friendship, work or family takes over. Neither work or family are bad–yet we have more needs and desires than these. We need different experiences. We need to laugh. We need people to keep showing up because they want to.
How do we wake up?
I feel like that question can only be answered in honest community, not just by reading this post and giving it a minute’s thought. I’m confident though that in honest community, through stories and fights and listening, through prioritizing women’s voices-you might just find your way to an answer. Investment will be involved though.
On a personal level though, I will speak of the practices that have been part of my “awakening.”
- A mindfulness practice. There’s plenty to pick from. Choose one. Stick to it. Pay attention to the subtle changes. Warning: no instant gratification here.
- Yoga, or another form of mindful exercise that brings you into your body and out of your head.
- Friendships with people who are open to growth and change.
- Deep soul searching of ways we are harming the earth.
- Listening to the answers to these questions:
- What do I want?
- Where do I hurt?
Having Hashimoto’s has shifted my spirituality in that I no longer have a choice whether or not I want to neglect my body or not. So I’m letting my body speak, and I’m listening. I’m integrating the feminine into my culturally-conditioned, unbalanced masculine soul. I’m more willing to let my personal journey lead me into the unknown.
75% of people with autoimmune conditions are women. That’s a hard fact to come back to. For in fact, the unbalanced masculine, wanting to dominate nature has in fact harmed women most. For women intuitively know that the health of the earth and our bodies are interconnected.
Yet if our collective longing is healing and wholeness, maybe then we will have enough courage to say, “We are all sick.” Not broken, but in need of healing. Maybe then we would lean on each other in friendship and tell our stories. Speak of the evil in our own hearts and how we want to dominate the “other.” Maybe then our relationships would be mutual, separated from roles of “giver” and “receiver.” Maybe we could learn to be quiet in community again, not needing to fix, but simply being present. Maybe we could risk being awkward and breaking social norms.
Maybe, just maybe the swarms of chronically ill women in this country, as they commit themselves to healing–will be the wise healers, one of the most sought after female archetypes.