EYE EYE. HOW A SERIOUS EYE CONDITION OPENED MY EYES to MY STORY & HELPED ME HEAL.
Wow, what a couple of months it's been my loves. I went from the elation of welcoming spring, feeling energised and full of vigour, to hiding away in the darkness, and I just had to share what I learned from it all in case there is anything in my ramblings and reflections that might help you. That's why I'm here after all.
For just about a year now, I've been dealing with a recurring serious eye condition that has forced me to take a break from the screens, the socials, the pen and even people. During my time away, as I've delved and explored in order to understand the real route cause of this 'thing', I've gathered so much valuable learning and had so many powerful and transformative insights. When I reflect, I realise that this has happened, in many similar forms, at so many junctures in my life. Now though, I realise that what I'm meant to do with all this, is to share it, because you, or someone you know and love, may just be facing something, or have something looming in the shadows of the past, that is causing you some angst and what I've experienced and learned might offer you some insights and relief.
I have a predisposition to 'ploughing through'. Whenever I'm presented with a crisis or a challenge, my default action is to put all my focus and energy into 'beating it' and/or to finding a solution. I just want to fix it. Sometimes, that's absolutely the best strategy. Often, it isn't. Historically, I would steadfastly refuse to stop though, whether it was rescuing a sheep with its head stuck in a fence (that actually happened and definitely required immediate focus and energy) or saving a doomed relationship. Was it because I saw not finding a fix as a failure? Maybe. Was it because I was convinced that the harder I worked and the harder I looked, I would find a solution, an answer? Probably. Was it because I just didn't want to face what was happening, didn't want to have to sit with it and look it in the eye? Most likely.
It took me literally decades and a lot of learning, self examination, training and multiple harder than hard lessons, to see and understand my patterns and to uncover the stories I was telling myself.
When I visited the eye hospital recently in desperation, trying to get to the bottom of my recurring, debilitating chronic eye condition, the clinician, having exhausted all other biological possibilities and probabilities, invited me to do this. "Talk me through the other times you've experienced these episodes and tell me where you were and what was happening for you around those times. WOW!! POW!! Suddenly, it hit me, if you pardon the pun, right slap bang between the eyes with some considerable force. As I began to recount all the previous episodes in chronological order, reaching back and adding situational details, I realised something quite profound. Each occurrence had been during a period of considerable emotional upheaval and stress. Grief, illness, trauma, both mine and second hand as I helped others through theirs, had been all too present each time and what had I done? I had leapt straight into 'plough through' mode, just as I have done almost my entire life. Now, there was definitely a time in my early life that the only option open to me was to just try to carry on (if you're not familiar with my story, you can check it out here), and there have been many times since in fact but now, with everything I've learned and everything I practice, I imagined I would be able to differentiate between times when it's needed and times it definitely isn't. And, I thought I would have been able to spot when I slipped into my default setting. I didn't! I was too busy 'ploughing through'. Soon after that hospital visit, I sat with a close friend having coffee and shared my realisation. As the best quality friends do, she reminded me that in a similar situation, I would tell her, anyone I cared about, even my clients, to just step back and make space, space to understand and space to heal. It was a stretch for me. I'm self employed for a start so when I don't work, I don't earn, and I can't call in sick to myself. But I did step back. I stopped in fact. Well, I have to walk my talk or I'm just a massive hypocrite aren't I? I took time off, from my work, from my duties and, crucially, from myself. I quickly realised how blocked I'd become and how my focus had actually become my blind spot. Oops, another sight pun, sorry about that. I realised I hadn't been feeling fulfilled, creative or inspired. I had been just living and working by numbers, applying strategies, rerunning old stories about why I had to do things that way, why I had to just 'plough through'.
I'm well quoted by my clients for reminding them about the importance of creating space between goals and plans, so that the things we dream of and plan for can drop in. Far too often, we just keep adding goals and tasks without making space for them or celebrating them when they happen. Hands up loves, I haven't been taking my own medicine and I got taken down, big time! This latest "You will listen." message from the universe has been a biggie, mahoosive, and it's been one of my most valuable lessons to date.
I've had the opportunity to connect in a deeper way than ever before, with my past, with my fears, with my acquired default coping strategies, with my story! I connected with my intuition, with my creativity, with others who have brought me insights and inspiration, with nature who has helped to heal me physically and emotionally, with you my lovely by sharing this and most importantly, with myself, body, mind and soul. I've revisited times in my distant past in order to understand where these strategies and tendencies might have come from, how they started. I've read hidden and deleted chapters of my story and my parents' stories. I've faced things, memories, people and myself. As the late great David Bowie said, "So I turned myself to face me." Has it been tough? Hell, yes! Would I do it again if I felt the need? Absobloominlutely. In fact, I'll do it regularly. I already revisit, read and re read my story often, and often edit and rewrite aspects of it. What I discovered though, was that I hardly every went back to volume one, instead choosing to start at volume three because it was an easier read. Going back to volume one, has reminded me where it all started, reintroduced me to crucial characters and shown me the core plot and, as we often do when reading a compelling book or watching a gripping movie, I saw different things and saw things differently. No more shortcuts.
I will try to remember these lessons, try to implement what I've learned and try to be a good student. That's all I can do because, like all other kindred souls trying to navigate this human experience, I'm perfectly imperfect and a terminal work in progress.
That's my story. What's yours?
Huge love and strength from me to you.
Places we can connect...
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