A bad case of writer’s block
Writer’s block comes in many forms. For me, it has taken the form of a sparkling clean bathroom, a batch of cauliflower tater tots, and an empty inbox.
Returning to this blank page after completing all of the above, I hope I will manage to translate my thoughts to coherent sentences. I think the difficulty of writing this post indicates to me the great importance of writing it.
I want to begin by telling you a story with which you may be familiar:
There was a 14 year old girl who got very sick with an autoimmune disease. For four years, her doctors gave her various medications which allowed her to scrape by, but delivered more side effects than benefits.
The medications stopped working altogether when she was 18. Her doctors told her that surgery would be required to remove part of her colon. The reality of living her life without her intestines seemed awakened an innate tenacity deep within her soul. She committed herself to finding another solution. She would make herself healthy.
She discovered that drastic dietary changes stopped her acute symptoms within a matter of days. Within a few months, she decided to taper herself off her medications. Within two years, she had achieved the goal she set for herself: through a natural approach, she was off medication and healthy enough to return to college. In addition, she was empowering others on their journey to wellness through her blog Empowered Sustenance.
The End. Not.
That is not where the story ends. And if I have led to you believe that is the whole story, I have done you a great disservice.
I have not “made myself healthy.” I have learned that, ironically, it is not healthy for me to live with this linear image in my mind, this straight path that takes me from point A (unhealthy) – to point B (healthy).
I am not superwoman.
A few months ago, I received a reader comment that my mind has persistently repeated. It went something like this:
“With all that you do for your health, such as your diet and all your treatments and gadgets, do you feel as healthy as Superwoman? Or are you still having health issues?”
No, I am far from Superwoman, and yes, I still have health issues. I feel compelled to tell you that. I don’t want you to have this image that I went from sick to completely healthy. I used to think was how it was supposed to happen, and that led me to discouragement when I felt like my health was slipping off that linear path.
This past quarter, I took a thought-provoking class called Myths, Rituals and Health. One statement the professor repeated stuck with me:
“Look at your life in terms of your personal myth, which is another way of saying your life’s journey. Where is the transformation? Real healing doesn’t occur unless there is transformation. And transformation is not saying, ‘I want to be healthy so I can go back to normal.’ If you go back to normal, you have not transformed, you have not taken the opportunity to grow spiritually.”
I thought the ultimate transformation in my life would be transforming into ultimate health, the kind of health 9-year-old Lauren had. Boy, I was one extraordinary healthy and energetic little kid.
Now that I’ve recognized my linear-healing vision, I have been able to slowly shed that dysfunctional assumption of healing.
I no longer want to “go back to normal.” I want to embrace my health progress as well as gratefully receive my ongoing health challenges. These health challenges lead me to continually learn – they are a profoundly empowering factor in my life.
What are my current health challenges?
Why am I writing all of this? Because I want to tell you that I am not Superwoman. I’ve had some significant health struggles for about the past year. Healing is circuitous. It involves stripping away layers in order to address the many components of mental and physical health.
Now that my ulcerative colitis is fully managed with my diet and lifestyle, I’m discovering some underlying issues and their accompanying symptoms. The challenges that seem most daunting to me right now are Hashimoto’s disease, copper toxicity, and mineral imbalances.
You would think that, after my successful experience addressing the ulcerative colitis, I would feel empowered to face my current health challenges. Ironically, I often feel like a failure.
It would make sense for me to approach my symptoms with this mindset:
“I’ve been on this road before, I know it is a process of learning and adjusting. It is uncomfortable not knowing all the answers, but that is life. It takes time, but I’ll figure things out.”
Instead, my thought process tends to look like this:
“I know so much about nutrition, I unendingly research healing, I see experienced practitioners, and take such meticulous care of my health. Why aren’t my health challenges resolving instantly? Why am I dealing with symptoms that are so uncomfortable and inconvenient? I must be a failure.”
Perfection doesn’t equal empowerment
I quickly admit that I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’ve learned that mixing perfectionism with health creates a disastrous pit of quicksand.
I can’t tell you how many times this week I’ve fallen back into the dangerous thought pattern of equating my wellbeing with perfect health. I often catch myself equating unresponsive health issues with failure.
When this happens, I ask myself, “Why do I feel like a failure?” The answer is, simply, “I’ve failed to be perfect.” And then I recognize how utterly absurd that sounds.
Do you know what is even more ridiculous? I arrive at this conclusion over and over, yet I am still learning the lesson.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this post, it is this:
Healing is not about reaching perfection. It’s about constant adjusting and reorienting oneself in order to maintain balance.
The goal of perfect health is completely incompatible with mental and physical wellbeing. Approaching health challenges as a growth opportunity and balancing act is deeply empowering.
Do you – like me – find yourself glorifying perfect health? I want to encourage you to gently ask of yourself reorientation instead of perfection.
I am not superwoman. Neither are you. So we don’t need to hold our health up to a standard of perfection. I think that is a monumental relief, don’t you?