Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life Lessons Learned

Finding Self

“I couldn’t live with myself any longer. And this question arose without an answer:
who is the ‘I’ that cannot live with the self? What is the self?"

-Eckhart Tolle

I use to go to a Lyme disease support group once a month. I really enjoyed the group. It was there that I met Alix and Kim from SpiroChicks and Scott Forsgren, the Better Health Guy, as well as a myriad of other Lymies who I felt a camaraderie with.

Over the winter I moved and I hadn’t been able to make it to a meeting again until this past Tuesday.

The topic was the Mind-Body Connection. One of the ladies in the group had read the book Mindsight by Daniel Siegel.

Siegel combines Western neuroscience with Eastern meditation in an exciting exploration of how a troubled mind can right itself. Drawing on current science and case studies, Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine, reinforces the idea that the power of reflection allows us to approach, rather than withdraw, from whatever life brings us.

The book itself sounded interesting. I have read about how stress and distress can make you physically ill. This is one of the things I explored with a psychotherapist before I was diagnosed with Lyme. She agreed it was an important aspect but she knew that there was more to my illness than just this. Gotta love the shrink who tells you, “You are sick, but it is not all in your head”.

It was the discussion that was opened up by the topic that had a profound effect on me though. The Self and the importance of Clan to your healing.

I was stunned by the realization that I give no time to my “Self” and I don’t have a Clan. 
 
The Self-
 
You may call this the spirit or soul, to me it feels right to call it the Self. What is the Self? This is the true you. The brain is an organ and the body is a vessel but neither is who you are.

Where does the Self exist? I have no idea. To be honest the whole idea is more than I can really comprehend. It is like the question, “Where does the Universe end?”. You know that the universe doesn’t end; it is everywhere and forever. At the same time you can’t really visualize that as reality.

Some people believe that the Self exists in the heart center. This feels right to me. Not only does it feel right, but feeling this makes me feel more grounded. I spend a lot of time living in my head. Living in that state makes me feel disassociated from my body, or maybe it is more than that, I am disassociated from my Self.

I am always trying to work things out, to figure and to fix. I rarely if ever take the time to just be and to accept.

You are probably asking what in the world this has to do with my health. By letting go of the frantic workings of my mind; the worries, the fears, the obligations… If I can just stop, just be, I feel myself relax, my mind becomes calm. The stress and the worry melt away. Miraculously things become clearer, my mind can function better. There is no doubt that this is a much better, much healthier state to be in. I need to learn to connect with and respect my Self.

Clan-

I have a lot of friends… on facebook. I have a good family, we all care about one another.

This is not the same as having a “Clan”. A true clan is having people you can depend on, who understand you and accept you. People you can open up to and really share your life and your feelings with. A Clan is more than just a few people, a Clan is a large functioning social network. The Clan needs to include people who exist physically in your life, not just online.

To be honest, I don’t know if I have ever had this in my whole life. Sadly I have always prided myself on not needing anyone. I thought I was strong. Now I can see that “strength” was actually fear and my pride was a wall to keep me from getting hurt. I realized this Tuesday night when the LLMD who facilitates the group told us to ask for answers from our hearts not our heads.

As we continued to talk about Clan, aura and energy came up. Recognizing the people in your life who fill you up and those who are toxic. We need to surround ourselves with people who give us energy and to avoid those who steal it.

This is a really hard realization to face. What do you do when you know without a doubt that your relationship with best friend or your family members are toxic? Can you really give up those relationships?

I remained completely open as the meeting went on , but I was a little in shock. I have some major things in my life that I need to work on. Pills and potions aren’t going to cure me alone. I need to take an active role in my healing. I thought I was but now I realize I was going about it all wrong.

I’m often commended for my positive outlook and for not letting this disease or life get me down. It’s true, I don’t, another thing I have always been proud of. Unfortunately what I realize now is that even here I am hiding behind that wall. Fooling everyone including myself. My attitude has come more from avoidance than truth.

So what do I do now? I am "little girl lost", I don’t know my Self and I don’t have a Clan.

Finding Self, I know how to do. Sticking with it is the hard part. I’ve had glimpses of my Self in the past. Sometimes the truths there are hard to accept. Perhaps that is why I have always given over to my mind which has allowed me to avoid the realities of accepting what my Self has to say.

As for finding a Clan, I have no idea where to start. I don’t work and I’m currently not the active person I use to be. Where am I supposed to find these Clan members? And then there is the fear of not being accepted. This is an issue that stems from my childhood and teen years. Suffice it to say, kids can be mean. You know that elementary school comeback “I’m rubber, you’re glue, what ever you say bounces of me and sticks to you”? I never had that rubber armor. I was just glue. Everything rubber said stuck to me and added to that wall.

I am determined to break down my wall. I can see how it is negatively affecting my life. I can also see how much fuller my life could be without it and how that in turn would positively affect my health.

10 comments:

btrflynana... said...

I can really relate to what you are saying! I have a very hard time getting out and "socializing" I am often worried I won't have the stamina to hold up!

I hope you find a clan that you can nestle in with and feel comfortable! Hang in there!

Joanne said...

What an excellent and interesting post thank you. Much food for thought.

Alix said...

I thought the talk was really inspiring, too. The "lack of a clan" psychological connection in Lyme is really interesting. It comes from Gilbert Renaud's Recall Healing construct. This is has been the issue of my life, having been disowned by my first father when I was two and adopted by my second father. Since I was a toddler I "conveniently forgot" about my first father and I was not told I was adopted by my mom's second husband until I was 15. My one consistent clan was my mom and my mom's family, but she was an only child and her parents died when I was young. When my mom died in 2002, I felt I was left without a clan up the family tree, even though I am considered family by both my fathers' families... I don't fit in totally with either one, however.

Thanks for being so forthright in your post, Ashley. I am renewing my efforts to create the supportive clan that someone recovering from Lyme really needs. You are part of it!

Ashley said...

Thanks Alix, You are part of my clan too. I'm going to make a much better effort and making sure to let you know when I am coming to the Bay. I need more contact with my clan members!

britta said...

I need that clan too. I have recently thought about how some of my closest friends don't have a care in the world for my illness and that is really hard. When my best friend died, I knew it would be a hard and long time before I found someone just like him who was my "clan." Now I am trying to re-find someone like him or multiple people like him.

Renee said...

This post has given me a great deal to think about....and speaking of that ~ I identify very well wtih being in my head too much....Sometimes I think that comes from spending so much time alone over the years....I relate here and am thinking I need to check this out myself..the clan thing and self too....Thanks for this honest share~ it is so helpful for the rest of us.

Andrew said...

What a cool post...and what a great website. This post really speaks to me because I'm both a psychotherapist who focuses on mindfulness, and I've recently been diagnosed with Lyme. I've been blogging about my own crazy quest for a diagnosis on my own blog at www.thenexttenminutes.com. It's a work in progress, and a bit of a saga, and probably not unfamiliar to other "SpiroPeeps." Anyway, thank you so much for what you're doing here.

Andrew Peterson
Author of "The Next Ten Minutes: 51 Absurdly Simple Ways to Seize the Moment."

Alix said...

Thanks for visiting Andrew. I hope you can make some progress against the neurological stuff that has been plaguing you. there is lots of hope. you should read my article about Dr. Dave Martz on this site - bedridden with ALS, but now walking and productive after being on long term antibiotics.

Kim said...

Ashley,

I count you in my clan! Even though our seeing each other far and few between. Please let me know next time you're in the Bay Area. BTW, the house next door is for sale:)

xoxo,

-k

Ashley said...

Kim, I will be at the clan dinner on the 29th. Can't wait!