Posts Tagged ‘identity’

Not Just My Body

December 25, 2011

I have spent most of the last 41 years thinking about RA in terms of just my body – that is how most of the doctors I worked with viewed it.  It gave me a victim mentality, that it wasn’t my fault because I was an innocent bystander being sideswiped by it for no reason.  Therefore, I had no responsibility except to get treatment.  It never occurred to me it was the Universe trying to get my attention.  News Flash!!!

I had a note from the Universe the other day that was really cool:

Young souls use pain to learn how things are.

 Mature souls use pain to learn how else things might be.

 And old souls, Lee, use pain to learn how else they might be. 

 T-s-s-s-s-s-s,

The Universe

Of course, Lee, pain is only a choice, among many, for such learning. It just happens to be very popular.

It is only in recent years through personal development have I realized that it is mind, body and spirit.  Over the years it has been bits and bobs here and there, then last year I had it full in the face with Ike Pono.  This year has really been an eye opener since I have been working with Debye and deep tissue massage.  I went to see her to help with the shoulder and neck pain from way too much computer and also waiting too long to see what could be done to relieve it.  I finally “got it” that I was holding on to RA; at one of the last Ike Pono weekends Bruce asked me why I has still holding on to RA.  It must have been simmering on the back burner for several months because in one session Debye told me I was sending mixed messages about it.  That meant I had to look at what was going on inside of me – I realized my identity was all wrapped up in RA and I didn’t know anything about myself without it.

What I learned so forcefully was that I was stuffing down so many feeling of anger, resentment, fear, hurt and who knows what else – all somewhere in my body because I hadn’t expressed it.  The first session was just physical massage and boy, was that uncomfortable.  The second session I was so surprised to find myself crying – I remember saying out loud “I can’t take it any more!”.  Ever since then my sessions have been like that, I find myself crying without really knowing why but I have been expressing and releasing all that junk.  It has helped me learn more about myself and  who I truly am.  My goal for so long is to love all of myself deeply, completely and unconditionally.  I am a lot farther along than I was a few months ago.  All the things, the people, the techniques, everything I have done and learned has helped me over the years to come to this point.

For so long I have just wanted to get rid of the pain so I could move comfortably and do what I want.  To me that is a cure, but there is the likelihood of it coming back because I didn’t get to the root of it.  But healing is understanding what brought it on in the first place, then  coming to terms with it and releasing it so it doesn’t come back.  I thought it was just in my physical body and once that was gone, I was fine.  Now I have come to understand there is so much more than the physical.  I’ve had several people see something in a past life that was not resolved and has been carried over into this life.  Not everyone goes along with the  idea of past lives – I am very open to it though I have not really had any glimpses of my own past lives.  It is very human to think this is the only life there is, on this planet in this time; that all this is just goofball, airy fairy, touchy feely woo woo stuff.  I have read and heard quite often that if something comes up 2 or 3 times- PAY ATTENTION!

After spending most of my life with a limited view of things, I am now open and receptive to all kinds of possibilities because limitation is too confining and I don’t feel I have anywhere I fit in the regular world.  I only know what is true for me and in no way would I ever try to convert or convince anyone of my view – in answer to Dr. Phil “It’s working pretty well for me”.  Looking at myself as a whole person with feelings, beliefs, attitudes, pains, deformities, physical limitations – the whole gamut of my life so far, all of it has had an effect on my body.  Is this a choice I made before I arrived here as a way to experience pain or to punish myself in some way for a past life?  I can’t say for sure at this moment but it does made things more understandable.  This past year especially has been uncomfortable, a revelation, satisfying, enlightening and instructive.   Going within can be uncomfortable and upsetting but the end result is definitely worth it.  I am learning to love myself and find out I  am an amazing woman, not the loser I have felt I was for so many years.

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At last, the gifts!

March 6, 2011

I have been reading Byron Katie’s book “Who Would You Be Without Your Story?” and one of the things she does is turn the statement around and ask for three examples of the gift in it.  Now , I have titled this blog Gift of RA but I am not sure if in the year I have been writing it I have actually been giving any examples of the gifts in it.  I realize I have always seen RA as a negative, something that has messed up my life and made it very painful, difficult and depressing.  Since reading some of the book, I have to look back and see there have been gifts.

I have to admit, it has given me a place to hide so I have not been expected to work, to do things fully and made sure people don’t expect much from me.  Then of course, I surprise them by exceeding expectations.  Second, I have met and done a lot with the Connecticut chapter of the Arthritis Foundation as Speaker’s Bureau Coordinator and Self Help Course instructor and trainer of new instructors.  As a result, I learned I enjoy speaking in front of people  (always an agony before) and was on a cable tv show with doctors and health professionals where I held my own quite well.  It also gave me an opportunity to help others, sometimes I knew at the time, most of the time I never knew.  Third, I have always gotten positive feedback from people, how brave I am, how I do so much while dealing with RA – even had people tell me I am an inspiration and a hero to them.  Very good to hear – yet my ego voice kept chiming in with all the negative so I was not able to fully appreciate the gifts.  Too much of “If you really knew what was going inside, how much I whinge and feel sorry for myself” and all that; thank goodness I am listening to that less and less.  I have spent too much time looking at the negative and feeling negative instead of focusing on what RA has brought me and what I have learned from it.

I will admit to being cranky the last couple of weeks because my hips, thighs and now the knees are really bothering me.  I was doing fine and feeling pretty good, then it felt things were going downhill especially because my right leg now hurts at night and sleep is not as easy or restful.  So I have focused on that and being upset because I was feeling good and now it is crappy again –  in this situation it is hard to focus on the gifts and the advantages of all of this.  Reading the book has made me more aware of what is going on inside me – sometimes it is the pits to be aware, easier to be unconscious about what is happening.  It is uncomfortable to go below the surface and sometimes I don’t like it, but I know it is important and necessary.  I have come to the point where I choose to know the truth about myself – uncomfortable or not.  Before it was willing to know the truth, now I choose it.

If I think about not having RA, if by some miracle I was healed of RA, I wonder if I would actually believe it is true and also if it was down in the cellular level.  Whose voice is that?  So with something positive, the automatic response is negative.  Then I would have to ask “Who would I be without RA?” – has that been my identity all these years?  I am still working on that one.  The other question that comes up is “Can I still do this blog and be authentic without RA?”.  There is in me that childhood training of being completely honest – whether I want to or not – and I wonder what I could offer if I don’t have to deal with it any more.  In the last Ike Pono weekend I was asked why I am still holding on to RA and when I understand that, will I be able to release the need for RA and it will be gone?  What then?  I would feel a fraud and that would be very difficult for me.  Then I would have to ask myself  “Who and what would I be without RA?”.

Good Lord, where is this post going?  I started out to talk about some of the gifts of RA and here I am at a completely different subject – I am tempted to erase it and go back to the original subject.  If this isn’t helpful please let me know – I think my best course is to end this post and see where I am next time.

Who Am I?

October 6, 2010

I didn’t write on sunday because I was having a bad case of “oh-poor-me-osis” and I had promised no whingeing in this blog.  So I am in a much better frame of mind to write now.  I am doing a lot better, though I have been housebound for the past two weeks because of the left knee.  I am still hobbling and limping, but there is no longer that hot ice pick in my knee.  There is still pain but so much less than last week.  I have been feeling sorry for myself because I have had to put my life on hold for a bit so I can rest the knee and give it time to heal.  I was mostly upset because I had things planned I wanted to do and I felt I was missing out on all of it.

It has also been a time to think and re-evaluate who I am, or who I think I am.  With my hypnotherapist friend’s assessment of what’s going on, I  really have to think about who I am inside.  I know I am a wife, daughter, sister, Promotional Marketing Advisor, friend, volunteer, member of organizations, etc.  But is that who I am inside or just how people see me from the outside?  I know I have recently realized that if RA is not my identity, then what is my identity?  Yes, I now know I am a healthy, powerful, inspiring woman courageously living my vision now, as well as a Kickass Warrior – but is that enough?  How does that translate into identity?  I can see I have more questions than answers at this point.  That may not be a bad things at all, more a place to start than end.

So my first questions is – What is identity?  The World English Dictionary has 9 different definitions, depending on circumstance.  The first two seem more what I am looking for:

1. the state of having unique identifying characteristics held by no other person or thing

2. the individual characteristics by which a person or thing is recognized

So far, not much help.  Then I found an article by John Graden, a once well-known martial arts master, about his story and what he learned about his identity.  He had been a chubby kid until age 20, when he began martial arts.  It became his identity and he only hung out with other martial artists.  He launched the National Association of Professional Martial Artists and “began to realize that, while martial arts helped me to reinvent myself identity, the job was only half-done. I had to reintegrate my martial arts with my inner self so that martial arts became a facet of who I was, not the entire definition.

When good or bad things happen to you it’s important that you not let them define you. Being a champion black belt on TV was my identity for years. If you are allowing your success to be your identity, then your hiding your real self. Think about film stars who choose not to live in Hollywood. They view their stardom as an extension of who they are instead of the definition of their identity. Sandra Bullock lives in Texas and it’s pretty clear when you see her in interviews that she views acting as a high paying job she enjoys but also that there is much more to her than just acting. In contrast, Jack Nicholson is iconic in his identity as film star. Being a movie star is his identity.”

Now we are getting closer to identity, though still haven’t had the light bulb go on yet.  He talked about “What has happened to you good and bad is not you. What matters is how you deal with it.”  That by defining yourself by any one particular thing or event puts you in a prison that confines your self-image and potential for growth.  It reminds me of one of the exercises in Ike Pono, there is an event, you have an emotion about it, then a memory – it is when you make a decision about that event that it becomes  part of your definition.  If it was negative, you may decide you are stupid, then you begin to collect evidence you are right.  Each following event is just more proof you are stupid.  It isn’t the case at all, but you decided you are stupid and you need constant evidence to prove you are right – you are stupid.  It is more important to stop at the memory stage, to not make any decision, just see it as an event, there is an emotion and let it go.  Otherwise, you will define yourself as stupid.

Now it isn’t all that easy to stop before the decision stage – it seems to be an automatic response from as long as we can remember.  I can think of many instances from my growing up where I  made a decision about myself from an event.  One in particular, I decided that exuberance and enthusiasm were not acceptable, so I was not acceptable.  I have finally understood that it was not about me at all, it was about the other person who didn’t know how to deal with enthusiasm and exuberance and said whatever it took to feel comfortable again.  I see now that it was not good or bad, it was an event that I personalized as further proof I wasn’t acceptable.  Yikes!  I had no idea all of that was happening until just now!  Maybe that is why I have spent my whole life being “the good girl”, following the rules so I would be acceptable.  I realize I want everyone to like me even if it meant going against what I felt was true to me.

I can see this question is going to take time and a lot more questions before I figure it out.  It is also possible I can simply create my own identity instead of  thinking I have to fit a particular mold.  That is definitely going to take some thought and certainly more questions.  It means looking at what is true for me rather than choosing from from the molds available.

If you have ideas or suggestions, I am open to hearing about them.  If my journey to identity can help someone else, then I have fulfilled one of my purposes – to be of use to others.




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