We Have Everything We Need to Heal
Lately I have been dealing with a number of health issues that have been adding more stress (fear and uncertainty) to my life. Actually, if the truth be known, I seem to have more of these at one time than ever before in my life, and they are serious as well as numerous. Individually, I have been handling them head-on, with both courage and perseverance, and by asking for God’s help, and relying on Him to guide me through the morass of decisions and behavior changes that I’ve had to make. My health issues are a bad thing, but God is using them for good, and is helping me to rely on Him more. He doesn’t want me sick, and He never did. He loves me, and in that love, he allows me to lead my life, to make decisions, even bad ones sometimes. And no matter what, He keeps on loving me. He doesn’t do bad things to me. He doesn’t cause my health problems. He lets me live my life, and waits for me to ask for His help, or His guidance. He doesn’t just push me aside, and take over, because He is so much bigger and more powerful than me. Sometimes, He might put something in my way to keep me safe, just as a shepherd might have a fence near a steep ravine, to keep his sheep from falling, and hurting themselves. But His Power and Love are gentle, and quiet, and he waits for me to ask. You might say His love is polite, and respectful, and I believe firmly that he delights in our abilities to overcome the obstacles that we face. He is a good parent.
Friday night, just before dinner, my wife and I were working on our computers. I had barbeque chicken on the grill outside, homemade “baked” beans in the crock pot, and fresh garden string beans boiling on the stove. I had written to my son a few days ago, telling him about all my recent activities, as well as my health issues, and had just checked my email to see if he had replied, and he hadn’t. I had also written to another relative a few days before, trying to bring her up to date on what was going on in my life – both good and bad, because I am trying to develop an honest full relationship with her, not just the shallow, “how‘s the weather” type of relationship that we’ve had in the past. In other words, I am letting her get to know the “real” me. I told her about our gardening, and all the fresh veggies we were getting, the changes that we had made to become healthier, and also some of my fears and struggles that had to do with my health issues. She did email me back, but it was a reply that did not acknowledge even one thing I had told her in my letter to her. It was like she hadn’t “heard” a thing I “said”. Her letter was nothing but a litany of all the bad things happening to her in her life. Her letter reminded me of my attempts to develop even a rudimentary honest relationship with my mother. I felt disappointed by my sister’s response, and my son’s lack of response. Between you and me, my son will write back. I love him, and I am proud of him, and he almost always does the “right thing”. He has no problem “taking the high road”. But at that moment, I did feel disappointed, and a little more of the emotional “wind” got knocked out of me.
I swung my chair around in our little office, to check the messages on our answering machine. Our office is in our home, and is about eight feet by twelve, so almost everything is within reach, whether it is the answering machine, the printer, the filing cabinet, or our dog Goldie, who is usually right in the middle of the floor. She has no problem being in the middle of things, or being part of our family. She knows we love her, and she loves us, and her “job” is just being herself. One of the messages on our machine was from Beaufort Hospital, asking me to please call them. I wondered (aloud, to my wife Susan) if it was their billing department wanting to ask me how I was going to pay the latest emergency room visit, or whether it had something to do with the MRI that I was scheduled to have on the following Monday. I was scared that it had to do with billing. I have no health insurance, like many folks in our community. It was 6pm, and the message was from earlier that afternoon. Susan handed me the phone and said “call them”. My fear rose (about it being about money for the emergency room visit), and I said something like “I’ll call tomorrow”. Susan continued to hand me the phone, and said much more insistently “Call them!” My response was intense anger. I said, “Why do you always make me do things that I don’t think are the best things to do?” I called the number that had been left on our machine, and, of course, got an answering machine, not a live person. My anger grew. I noticed that I was much angrier than the situation warranted, but my anger was so big, that I didn’t know much more than that, and left the room. I was feeling rage.
In the living room, I sat in a chair with a big bowl of string beans from our garden, a pot, and a pair of scissors. These beans were for the freezer. Later they’d become things from the past, to feed us in the present. My rage slowly subsided. Sadness grew along with a different feeling, more a state of being than a feeling. Something I hadn’t consciously felt for a long, long time. I felt despair. As I snipped the ends off, and cut the beans into smaller, more manageable pieces, the thought of suicide crossed my mind. I didn’t consider doing it. I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t planning to do it. But nevertheless, here is this stray thought that passes across the screen of my awareness. I realized it was something from the past, thawing in the present, allowing me a window into what I had felt as a child. My reaction to my wife telling me what to do, triggered this reaction from the past. My anger at “being controlled” provided the fuel to “thaw” this part of my history. I had wanted to kill myself when I was a child.
As a child, my parents controlled every part of my life, and they did it out of their own fears, and insecurities. They didn’t trust the future. They didn’t trust me to become who I needed to become. They didn’t trust God, to guide me or them, or to complete his creation in me to become me. I was not allowed to be a child, to be less than perfect, and to make the numerous mistakes that we all make as children. This control was unrelenting, and it was severe. It was absolute. Even at age 18, I was told what I was going to do in my later life. What school I would go to. What I would study. There was no area in my life, where I could make my own decisions, so that I could start to learn how to live my life. That unrelenting control for so many years, filled me with despair, because my spirit wanted me to become the person I was meant to become, and to be the person I was at that moment wherever I was along that path of “becoming”. Their control taught me to never listen to my spirit, to only look outside myself, never inside. Their control tore my ability to know what I truly felt about anything out of me. A person who loses his ability to connect to his feelings, to connect to who he truly is, has only despair, a despair that is enormous, all consuming, and so lonely, that I just don’t have words to describe it. That despair had made me want to kill myself for much of my childhood. Later, even though their control was gone, the despair remained, and fueled the addictions I used to quell the despair that was left in place of the connection I should have had to everything that makes me who I am, and guides me to become who I will be. By paying attention to what I am feeling in the present, I can connect with how I was in the past. By re-experiencing the past, I have learned empathy for the kid I was, and judge myself less harshly ion the present. Self acceptance brings more peace into my life. I learn to trust that my feelings will lead me into deeper and deeper healing.
I am so fortunate. Against all odds I am connected to myself and my feelings. I know who I am, and I listen for directions within myself that help me become who I will be. Sometimes they tell me stories about where I have been, and release frozen pieces of my past, in small manageable pieces, so that I can heal. God made us this way, so that no matter what people do to us when we are children, we have the ability to heal, and to get back on the path of becoming who he wants us to be. We are partners in this, and as I said before, I can imagine that he delights in our becoming who he wants us to be, and the roadmap is inside ourselves. By the way, my son did call today, and acknowledged everything I had written to him. I am so proud of him.