If you’ve looked around my site at all, you know that I suffer from chronic pain and inflammation in my right elbow. This has been going on for about three years. And, man, how my life has changed in so many ways! Like most life changes, it has spanned the scope of the good, the bad, and the ugly…but mostly it has caused me to grow, which I think is always good.
Throughout the past three years, I have explored countless avenues to heal myself. Those have included meditation and energy work (both with healers and on my own.) A theme has emerged…I need to let go. (Cue the music from Disney sensation Frozen. Catchy tune… even my punk rocker 16 year old daughter belts it out incessantly.)
According to some schools of thought, the pain in my right arm represents a need for control, an inability to let things go. I initially resisted this idea. On the surface, I’ve always thought I was pretty easy going and flexible. But with deeper introspection, I realized that this isn’t really true at a more fundamental level.
When the pain first began, I associated it with my daughter, Ruby. I even called it my “Ruby arm.” The reason is that Ruby, who has Down Syndrome, would often run away from me in public places, so I always needed to keep a firm grip on her. I deduced that my pain – tendonitis – stemmed from the repetitive grasping and twisting of my arm in an effort to keep her safe and sound.
A reasonable explanation, for sure. But if I go inside myself to look for more answers, I see that this explanation goes even deeper as well. On an emotional level, I have always expended a lot of effort into keeping Ruby healthy and safe, throughout many challenges. I’ve held onto the illusion that I can control her health and development by my sheer force of will.
Of course, there are things I can do to promote a positive outcome for her – feed her nutritious food, make sure she gets exercise and fresh air, and provide her with activities to stimulate her intellect, to name a few. But I’ve had to realize that I’m not in total control of her life and future, or anyone else’s for that matter, including mine.
While I can stack the deck in favor of a good outcome, I can’t be assured of anything. It seems obvious, and I yet I still often struggle with accepting this fact.
In the case of my own health, it has been a similar struggle.
I sometimes buy too heavily into the idea that by “doing everything right,” I can fix all my health problems, including the pain and my thyroid and adrenal problems. Control freak! Oh, yeah!
I realized I had tumbled head first into my old habits quite recently while following the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol to heal autoimmune issues.
First of all, I want to make clear that I am not knocking this approach. It has helped a lot of people to reverse the damage done to their bodies by autoimmune conditions. It just hasn’t helped me. At least, not yet. Though I’m not giving up on it yet, either.
But I do need to acknowledge that I need to reevaluate how I am implementing it, and perhaps back off some in an effort to bring more balance to my life, to soften a bit, let go of some control.
I’m not giving up on the AIP diet, but I have reintroduced some foods despite not having any improvement while on the strict elimination part of the protocol. I plan to continue adding back more foods, which I will enjoy eating occasionally, though not daily.
I also “allowed” myself to take anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) a couple of times recently. I had stopped taking them for the most part about six months ago, before I started AIP, because they were upsetting my stomach. When I started AIP almost five months ago, I shunned them entirely as a “not-allowed food.” Instead I soldiered on through the pain. especially at night.
This approach was too drastic, and it was counter productive for my healing in so many ways. Although I don’t think I can take them as much as I might need them, due to my sensitive stomach, I do plan to take them occasionally – either when the pain is unbearable or I just need the sleep. I won’t be as rigid as I was.
I am continuing my herbal protocol for lyme and other infections under the guidance of my doctor. When I finish that in another month or so, perhaps I will undertake the full elimination portion of AIP again to see if there is a change. We’ll see.
But I am coming full circle, by getting back to basics. I am recommitted to my yoga practice (albeit with modifications), meditating regularly, practicing loving kindness for myself and others, loads of self care, and really tuning into my intuition. Listening to the cues my body is giving me.
And it is still whispering to me (and sometimes belting it out!)… to let it go…
As you listen in closely to your body, what messages are you getting?
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