A surprising reason your chronic symptoms may not be healing
You’ve been to multiple doctors. You’ve tried medications, chiropractic adjustments, natural remedies, and maybe even surgeries, but you still aren’t healing from your chronic symptoms. These symptoms could include digestive issues, migraines, joint pain, fibromyalgia, back pain, anxiety, depression, and many other health conditions that have been causing symptoms for months or years.
Until you address your repressed emotions of guilt, shame, resentment, anger or grief, you may struggle to heal. If you’re like me, you may be thinking, “but I had a pretty normal childhood”. Still, you may have had an incident that affected you differently than even your siblings. In the book, What Happened to You, by Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD and Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Perry gives an example of a fire that happens in an elementary classroom. Everyone got out safe, and the fire was quickly distinguished. A first-grader may be completely traumatized and feel unsafe, but the firefighter, and even a fifth grader, who understand the level of danger better, may not be traumatized at all.
What happened to me
It took therapy years ago, for me to realize that having a sister that became terminally ill and passed when I was a baby, was traumatic for me, even though I have no memory. What I realized it brought up for me, and has kept me from healing all these years, is a fear of abandonment. I’ve been told that from the age of one to two years old, my parents had to leave me and my older brother with other family members a lot. Luckily, I had grandparents that could keep me.
My grandparents related what they thought was a funny story about me. They said that I would stay in my bedroom all day long until my brother got home from school. I would not let them come close to me, until one day, (shortly after potty training), I fell in the toilet. My grandmother rescued me, and then I warmed up to them more.
It makes me so sad to think of that little baby girl, hiding out in her room all day. How scared I must have been. Then, to think that I didn’t understand when and why my parents were leaving, and why my sister, who was five years older, disappeared forever. I can imagine thinking, “What if that happens to me?”, or “What if someone else disappears forever?”.
I’m sure my parents were so devastated, and on top of it all, my mother became pregnant during that year and gave birth to my little brother three months before my sister passed. He was a blessing during a difficult time, but that poor little two-year-old, probably got even less attention for a while, quite understandably.
How these hidden emotions affected my health
Now, I’ve had other traumas, divorce, the loss of my mother, and family relationship struggles, but they really all point back to one big thing, my fear of abandonment. I believed that I needed all of these other people in my life, no matter what. No matter how badly they treated me. I held on tightly, trying to please everyone. The problem is, when you try to please everyone, you please no one. My family members were not happy, and I was not happy.
I had always had digestive issues, but after my mom passed, they became unbearable. I gained weight, I was often painfully bloated, and the things I could eat were dwindling. Repressed emotions cause cortisol, the stress hormone, to constantly stay at an elevated level. When your subconscious is triggered by something resembling that original trauma, you go into fight, flight, freeze, or fawn mode. Your brain thinks it can protect you from emotional pain, by giving you physical symptoms to focus on. “Can’t handle that confrontation with your father?, Ok, focus on this migraine that will make you stay in bed today.” “Your boss is harassing you and making you feel incompetent? I’ll give you this excruciating back pain to get your mind off work.”
You’ve seen this process at work when you get nervous about a presentation and have an upset stomach, or you experience a tension headache after shopping during a busy season.
It may take a little investigating to figure out where your pain is coming from, but you can heal chronic symptoms.
How I began healing
I began my healing using food. I knew that some of the junk I was eating was not nutritious, or good for my body in any way. As a full-time teacher, and mother of four, I was always tired and rushing around. Meals were usually fast and easy foods that would please many picky eaters. After focusing on nutrition, I lost weight and began to feel so much better. I earned my certification as a Transformational Nutrition Coach. As a part of that program, besides learning about nutrition, we also looked at the psychological and spiritual side of healing. That’s when I realized, health is much more than diet and exercise.
The surprising reason I was not healing completely
First, let me say, that I was so much healthier, but I still had the problem of fear of abandonment. This fear was keeping me stuck. I was still trying to please my father, my ex-husband (who was calling me selfish, and a push-over), my husband, my kids, and my boss at work. They all had different ideas of how I should be handling myself and doing things. I would do something that would please my husband, but anger my own father, or my kids. I would try to get my ex to back off, by doing something that made him feel heard, but then my husband would be angry.
Finally, it all came crashing in on me a few summers ago. My relationships were so strained, and I was about to lose everyone I cared about. It finally dawned on me that I would have to please myself first. The only way out of the mess was to set boundaries, listen to my intuition, and do what I thought was best. I then had conviction that I was making the best decisions for me, and that was the best I could do. If anyone was not happy with that, they would have to do what was best for them. If that meant, they would no longer be in my life, then so be it. I had to be happy with my decision. Yes, I prayed they would understand and keep loving me. To be honest, it was really rocky for a while, and there has been fallout, but I feel much more at ease now. I have much more trust in myself and much more peace.
How you can get down to what is keeping you stuck
Free Writing is another technique that has helped so much. It is a journaling process where you set a timer for 15-20 minutes and write continuously. Destroying your writing afterwards allows you to write things you would normally never say out loud or let anyone see, because it could be hurtful, but the repression of those emotions is making you sick.
Of course, I have to mention, talking with a coach or therapist who is experienced with trauma, is really helpful if you want to begin healing faster. I have worked with several therapists and several coaches. They have all helped me in some way, a few more than others. You just need to find someone you feel comfortable sharing your story with.
Healing is possible, without needing pills or crazy complicated diets and medical interventions. I have learned so many techniques that I now teach in my coaching programs. My group program, Empath Reboot, is open now, where I help women heal chronic symptoms, so they can feel better and find peace and joy.
Check my links for information on how to work with me.