As I write this to you, I see you at age 19. Your autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis, is no longer responding to the cocktail of medications you take each morning. The doctors have told you that you face the inevitable surgical removal of your colon.
You flushed blood down your dormitory toilet for the last time this morning, and now you are packing up your father’s car with cardboard boxes of clothes and textbooks. You are numbed with fear as you watch your life unravel before you.
As you stare into an empty future, let me fill in some blanks for you. I want to share with you what you will learn in the next four years on your healing journey.
1. You’ll learn that a new life requires burning old plans.
On the drive back to your family’s home, you leave behind your dream college forever. You ask yourself, What if it doesn’t turn out okay?
Lauren, nothing turns out okay, because you’ve defined okay in small and culturally-convenient terms. You’ve framed your future in terms of graduation, then a brief prefabricated job before marriage and babies. That vision was only way you knew how to fulfill your longing to feel successful, productive, wanted, and secure.
Those old dreams won’t make it through this dark night of your soul, but you will. You’ll fulfill those longings in a new life you couldn’t have imagined.
2. You’ll learn to live by conviction, rather than convention.
The conventional paradigm of modern medicine has thoroughly failed you, and now offers only the threat of surgery. With tenacious conviction, you soon turn to holistic nutrition and lifestyle to heal your disease.
Lauren, I give you fair warning here. As you give up convention in the realm of your physical health, you are saying, “Hey Universe, I’m so over this culturally-approved fitting in and hiding out thing. I’m here to live an authentic life, and learn what I need to learn.”
And so, you’ll experience how love and creativity and spirituality don’t always obey convention. Often, it will often be scary to step outside the boundaries you left unquestioned for so long. But a life colored inside the lines is never a masterpiece. Be gentle with yourself, and hang on for the exhilarating ride.
3. You’ll learn that fitting in is overrated.
You tender human, you’ve kept a straight face but I know how you’ve ached to fit in. Since you were 12, you’ve faced anorexia, trauma, debilitating disease, and mind-altering medication. Yet, at this time, not even your immediate family knows about some of your secret lives of struggle.
You’ve nearly lost your soul, hiding it from the world so you could fit in.
As you slowly shed the layers of your society-approved, family-approved masks, you learn to show up to the world with your soul. It’s a long and intimidating process, and four years later you will still have secret struggles and skeletons in the closet, asking to be aired. You’ll realize that everyone else does, too.
You’ll learn to find community not by trying to be like the rest of them, but by standing in your glorious glow of vulnerability.
4. You’ll learn that nutrition is not the only piece in healing.
Shortly, you’ll begin a grain-free nutrition protocol. A change this drastic require an entire lifestyle shift. I look back, seeing how you showed up to this step of healing with extraordinary determination and independence.
I don’t want to deemphasize the crucial role of this dietary protocol. It catalyzed your healing, and now it allows you to maintain health without medication. But you’ll learn that nutrition only goes so far, and healing must penetrate you to the core.
If healing was just about giving up grains and sugar and parabens in your shampoo, you’d be Superwoman in a mere matter of weeks. Though your acute symptoms are gone and you’ve tapered off your medication, you will face lingering symptoms – both physiological and psychological.
You’ll learn that your organic, pasture-raised, non-toxic, low-EMF life isn’t a recipe for perfect health. If only it was that easy. Spiritual and emotional healing are required to deeply heal your body.
I’m hesitant to intimidate you with this information, because you may sign off on your healing journey before you even begin. But here goes…
Healing requires that you release your grudges.
As long as you claim yourself as a victim to circumstance, you keep your wounds open. It is time that you learn to re-write yourself as the hero who heals, not the victim who suffers.
You’ll learn to release the storyline which you wrote, that one that portrayed you as a victim to trauma. You wrote yourself into this story because it was the best you could do to make sense of your pain.
Now, you’ve realized you don’t have to carry your pain into the future. You’ll learn to re-write yourself as the hero, the girl who was given difficult circumstances so that she could find her strength. Victims never heal, but heroes do.
There’s a saying: you can be right or you can be happy. You’ll learn that you can be right or you can be healed. The math doesn’t add up, but healing is illogical.
5. You’ll learn that your body is not a sum of your mistakes.
Right now you hurt, and you perceive that hurt as evidence of your mistakes, of not being enough, of failing. As a result, you feel the shame of inadequacy.
You did not make mistakes in how you lived or what you ate or what you didn’t eat. In every circumstance, you were doing the best you could at the time. Everything that happened to you, every choice you made provided the perfect storm of opportunity for your transformation.
Your body does not carry the scars of your sins, it carries the stories of your transformation.
Your body is not a mistake, it is an AFGO (which means another f—-ing growth opportunity).
6. You’ll learn the Call to Create
In three months, with your dedication to nutrition, your acute symptoms will be gone and you will have tapered off all of your medications. My heart is bursting with joy to tell you that you’ll soon start a website called Empowered Sustenance.
You feel that your life depends on sharing your story, your recipes, and your journey of healing. So you’ll plow through countless hours learning to navigate the technical aspect of blogging. You’ll stare at a screen filled with acronyms like SEO, HTML, CSS, and CDN. Your vision blurred by frustrated tears, you’ll feel lost in a language beyond your comprehension. Yet, you will never entertain the idea of giving up.
You accept the challenge of blogging because you’re learning to listen to your heart voice. It is the Call to Create reminding you “Lauren, you are a writer.”
Your creativity is how you’ve healed yourself by sharing your story, and how you’ve helped others heal. You see, that is the the most nobel, the most authentic form of service: surrendering to what you are called to create.
I just wrote you above and now am trying to get new cookware. I saved your newsletter from 2/6/15 which was enitiled “Are you accidentally poisioning your unprocessed food?” I didn’t read it then because I was working on changing out plastics etc but now want to purchase good pots and pans. The post I saved won’t open up. Is there any way I can find what you recommend?
Really appreciate any help you can give me with this. Thanks in advance for your time.
Hi Ann Marie! Was it this post? http://empoweredsustenance.com/non-toxic-bakeware/
Lauren this is such a powerful post! I will save this incredible message to share with someone who is struggling and needs these powerful words. Thank you!
I’m so glad it resonated with you!
Your words, recipes, dedication, and vulnerability have been a guiding light for many of us who suffer from dis-ease. I am grateful. Thank you.
Lauren, you are such an inspiration to do the hard work that healing requires. Thank you for sharing your journey. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability, and admire you so much!
You are strong and very mature and wise beyond your years. I wish I had figured this all out when I was young and not now, in my 50’s…but as they say, everything happens for a reason, and your time was meant to be now, while still young, and my time, now at middle age. We are both on a very similar journey but our paths are laid out differently. Keep being remarkable!
Lauren, this brought tears to my eyes.
I too have chronic health issues, specifically thyroid and food sensitivities. I’ve dealt with a huge sugar addiction for years and a negative self-image (even now.) I’ve done a lot to get healthy, but I’m not “there” yet. Just this weekend I was in a really low place because despite all my efforts toward healing, I’m still not losing any weight and I’m so discouraged. I needed to read this because you’ve reminded me that it’s about the journey, not the “end.” It’s not about fitting in, but being myself. That healing goes beyond nutrition but requires forgiveness (most of all from myself!) That my body isn’t a mistake (thank you!)
And yes, I’m a blogger too and this has reminded me again of where my real passion is – sharing LIFE and true wellness with others!
Bless you, Lauren!
Just discovered your website, I’m touched by your courage and determination. I’ve had gut issues due to food intolerance since my birth and since trying out what the doctors say, just to find out that I learn much more from websites like yours then I did listening to doctors in the past years. Thanks and and the best to you!
Thanks so much for sharing!!
Thank you Lauren, I really needed to hear all this. This list is exactly what I’m going through…I was diagnosed with guttate psoriasis two months ago, with the worst of it all over my swollen, red face. I am just wrapping up my RHN schooling, and even with my knowledge the transition to AIP, gut healing, candida lowering, self-confidence maintaining, and trauma shedding Is a challenging one. This list is well written and moving. I hope to also share my story one day and become the “hero that heals.”
many blessings. xxxxxx
I am more than twice your age, but I have listened and learned from your words, and your information. And slowly I heal. Thank you for listening to your inner voice, and sharing with all of us. It is much appreciated.
Your website is one of the lights in the big dark of the internet. Thank you for sharing your journey. Sometimes i wonder if i’m just being stupid in pursuing all this for myself and my loved ones. Maybe it’s just another pie in the sky ideal of mine that will never pan out or be worth anything. So much to learn. So expensive to change EVERYTHING. Am i sure it’s worth it? But there’s just no other option-as you say-ALL the industries are failing us. Not just failing us-killing us. But am i up to the challenge to take on something so big? Back and forth i go. So at times like that-i come here and just meander around-breathing in the light and fresh air you have so generously shared with all of us <3
I understand it feels like a daunting undertaking, as you wrote, to take on a challenge this big — of healing in a world that seems made to prevent healing. But you’ve got this! And I’m so glad this post resonates with you.