This is a much anticipated write, so bear with me as I frolic through a dense forest of thoughts and gratitudes and profound realizations! Not for the light of heart, this one. Or maybe it is, maybe this one is exactly for those who still gently cup their little sliver of hope tenderly within sheltered palms.
As some of you know, the past month has brought notable change and transition to my life.
January 9th, my family lost my 90-years-young maternal Grandmother, Penny, to COVID. All within a sweeping week; she was diagnosed, monitored carefully, moved to hospital, made as comfortable as possible (even though she had zero complaints…even though her lungs were also full of pneumonia), vitals were monitored and noted as they bounced between recovery and this might be bad, family on pins and needles standby – some several hours away, others in their cars in the hospital parking lot at the ready to suit up in Full PPE and have their last opportunity to be by her side.
It was, without saying, traumatic. It was felt in varying degrees, but still a shocking upheaval to all involved. Because if you had the privilege, of somehow being blessed with the presence of this woman in some capacity in your life…you not only experienced the severance of a loved one, you also were now fully engulfed in the collective trauma of this global pandemic. Shit got really real.
Again, my family rose up to meet each other and carry one another however they could; being trauma certified exactly a year before this, after my youngest cousin Rachel lost her life to suicide at only 15.
The matter of how to even proceed with end of life transition plans were unclear, as the family at ground zero had to navigate health restrictions and how to best honour Gramma’s life and her final wishes. VERY specific wishes she had laid out recently for her funeral. In the end, the funeral and most of her wishes were met. Although the physical attendance was limited to 10, the rest of us were able to attend virtually from our respective homes.
This may seem frivolous to some, but to echo the wisdom of a friend who had offered some consoling words the day after she passed, she simply asked me to find a way to grieve, “…set a date to come together as a family to honour and celebrate her.” She bravely felt called to share her two very different experiences of grieving the loss of her own Grandmother’s. I can’t tell you how much her vulnerability helped me; to allow the painful process of feeling my sorrow.
The day of the service, I sat with my husband and Mom (Penny’s oldest Daughter of 6 children) and Dad, as we watched her funeral unfold virtually through tightened throats and weeping eyes. Although we were unable to physically be there, the raw emotion was still visceral. We grieved deeply as a family in the honour of this connecting force that bound us all in this life, we committed to the ritual and it opened my heart to allow the deluge of anguish to pour forth. I can’t imagine having to carry that all inside of me a month later. I’m not saying I’m over the loss, certainly not. But it feels less cumbersome to set it down at my feet where I can keep an eye on it, fall to all fours and curl up with it when needed, try not to trip over it as life goes on; just to remain connected to Gramma in a different way. A way, I believe, she innately embodied and understood at her core.
What a better way to honour another person, than to embody their very best core values in your own way.
As I monitored my grief, I communicated where I was at with my people, and they were gracious and ready to hold me whatever way I needed.
At the same time, I had been considering applying for a teaching position back in the school district I had taken a leave from 3 years prior due to…well…lets sum it up as chronic pain and migraines…but there are over 100 other posts here to give you insight on why I was initially “forced” by my body to stop teaching.
There was a shit ton of self-talk going on to make sure this was something I really felt ready to do. It was a few half days a week, it was content I was completely immersed in (social emotional learning), it was with an age group I knew was in great need of SEL support, it was with a team of educators and counsellor’s I knew and felt comfortable with. In short, it was my dream job. I also came from a place of grounding, knowing if I was meant to teach in this capacity it would happen. If I wasn’t meant to, it would not…due to seniority and whatnot, universe – divine intervention stuff.
The call that told me I was the successful applicant came 5 days after Gramma’s passing. Something told me, she was on side with this new position for me. Something told me that the way she had always been an intuitive, compassionate listener and helper; was a gift she had given to me as well. With her passing, it was the conviction I needed to embrace this new chapter in teaching. I was ready to teach in a different way, a way I had never fully embodied before, because of my traumatic childhood events and the “adaptations” my nervous system had put in place to protect me. Because of the rewiring I had been working on in my brain these past three years.
As I began the job, I felt so comfortable and things felt familiar, I was anxious to get things rolling, excited to jump in head first! Are you seeing what I wasn’t to begin with? Oh, how the perfectionist rose from her sleeping beauty slumber to say, “Oh my Sarah, do you need my assistance to prove your worth, since you’re a bit of an imposter filling this position, dontchathink?!”
The irony of this all is, I was being asked to help students develop their social emotional awareness, and the first week or so my SEA was infinitesimal. It just shrivelled right up, as Princess Perfection and Anxious Annie took me over. It was so natural for them to hop in the drivers seat and call shotgun, throwing me and my beingness in the fucking trunk. HOW RUDE! or did I voluntarily elect to slink with my shoulders folded in and climb up in there all on my own like, ya ok, I’ll just be back in the trunk if you need me okay? Touché.
So then there’s this guy named Gerry. That’s another convoluted story, but again, in short…I had been seeing this man about my neck pain (after my 6th annual Christmas chronic pain flare up) and was having profound results with a few treatments. Without so much as a crack or sound, he has a way to line my hips and neck without all the trouble of a multitude of other interventions. Healing touch, traditional Chinese medicine healing stuff.
During my second visit, he asked me about my anger. I chuckled and admitted, ya…I get mad sometimes. Who doesn’t (and you shoulda seen me in my 20’s…I think I was only operating on 20 shades of anger back then). I’ve done my work! I know I still have to work with my emotions and tune in to keep my health on track.
Gerry, in his Gerry way said, whenever you get P.O’d with someone your stomach twists. If it happens a lot and doesn’t get untwisted, your neck goes out and then your hips go out too. He showed me how to massage my stomach out of its anger twist and said do this, as much as you need to. Your pain will decrease as you pay attention to this. He also gently looked me in the eye and said, “Sarah, you don’t have to suffer like this.” Dang Gerry. Just Dang. Like, are you sure? He seemed pretty sure.
After I telephone surveyed my husband on if I am an “angry person” his telling response was, after a pregnant pause….”I feel like this is a trick question…and if I answer you will get mad at me.” AND THERE IT IS FOLKS! Laugh it off and then get to work Lady, because this shit is no joke.
There’s a lotta anger out and about these days, lurking, waiting to pounce on that person walking the wrong way down the grocery isle, or the lady standing 2 feet away instead of 6, or white supremacists storming the US capital because another white supremacist told them to. Or just that dude without any depth perception riding my bumper down a freshly slicked highway of snow…I’m the rager in that scenario…my aggression for aggressive drivers runs deep to my core…why can’t I just pull over and namastay-out-of-his-way until he finds someone else to tailgate…because that’s injustice! That’s why!! Rise up people. It’s go time.
But hold on a sec. It’s one thing to feel your anger, your indignation, your resentment. Hell yes feel it. But for Heaven’s sake…once your done feeling it, and petting it gingerly like a wild barn cat that’s probably gonna scratch you all to hell, Let. It. Go.
That’s worth repeating…release your felt anger so you transform it…before it transforms you.
I am recently discovering the truth behind my fury, outrage and irritation. And the truth is, much of it isn’t new. It’s old and decrepit, its a fungal rust that is clogging up my body causing sticky pain doused in concrete scar tissue, sharp and generous injections of inflammation, lacerations of lack of self worth, a penchant for void-filling Hawkins Cheezies…I should be tinged orange (or should I say o-rage).
I recognized it was time to get back on my sturdy horse of well being and call a therapist. I mean, my therapist, who is amazing and because of her ability, is booked full. I am yet to see her so I had to pivot. I really wanted to work with my frequent anger (which I was noticing it’s little fires were being lit all over my life since Gerry asked me to watch out for the pissed-offness) and release it. Not saying I was more angry, I was more aware of all the forms of anger that were badly colouring many parts of my life! Let’s say I was massaging my twisted stomach A LOT.
I’ve shared some past blogs involving my work with Glenys using hypnotherapy to unlock stuck thoughts and negative emotions, each time making huge progress. Because of COVID she was able to do a session with me over the phone. Once again success. The session took me up a ladder of cascading emotions that had been leeching off the deep rooted anger in my belly. Layer upon layer of inadequacy and fear we finally surface at acceptance and curiosity. By the time I had descended that transition or perception, I was a bit (or a lot) closer to my subconscious and intuition. With a better connection and understanding of what and why I was having these difficult feelings I now was open to presence and awareness of what I was suppose to do next. Which was, pay the fuck attention.
The next day I tuned into was random podcast that came on after I had finished a selected one while walking the dog. I had already planted a seed years back to look into the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and just never found the time or need to pursue it further. The guest on Under the Skin, was Nick Ortner, a tapping practitioner who had published books, made a documentary and an app all to support people’s mental and physical health through the modality of tapping.
If you are somewhat unaware, like I was, about what tapping is, it’s a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that is used in a mediation-like format, in about 10 minutes you are guided through a series of prompts to go deeper with your feelings and thinking all while tapping in a particular sequence on meridian points (traditional Chinese medicine points used for acupressure and acupuncture).
Hokey right? I know. BUT holy hot damn. It works.
It’s all about the science meets spirit factor for me. This is it. You see, the tapping on meridian points is scientifically proven to reduce cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones). Freakin’ invasive surgeries have been successfully performed with acupuncture instead of pain meds with similar results! Harvard University is currently testing out the medical efficacy of this technique, results are incredible. So even if you only tap, you can still calm your nervous system when you’re stressed and interrupt the stress response that so many of us suffer from because we never get out of the toxic stress cycle.
But, when tapping on the meridian points is combined with CBT, we got a winner baby! Bingo! At least for me anyway, and hundreds of thousands of others, who have broken the chronic pain cycle, their PTSD, their migraines, their recovery from illness and injury, their childhood trauma.
I have been using The Tapping Solution App for over a week now, sometimes a couple times a day, to check in, release my difficult and hampering emotions, manage my chronic myofascial pain diagnosis, kick those hijacking bitches who took over my car a few weeks ago into the back seat…I’m working at even rehoming them, if anyone is looking to adopt. No, I’ll keep them, but I am shrinking them way down…anxiety and perfectionism aren’t being watered the way they used to, so look who’s shrivelling up now yo! And a little secret, I’m keeping them pocket size for when I actually need them, not often…but they aren’t completely useless either.
So to finally wind this, what did I call it…a frolic, right! To wind this frolic down for us real nice-like, I went to the dentist today. Really Sarah, cause this doesn’t sound much like a conclusion, but you know what guys…you didn’t come this far to only come this far…
I had my first pain free dentist appointment today. My hygienist, of 7 years, was beside himself with joy to discover the condition of my teeth and gums. He was astounded and told me he was so proud of me for flossing. But wait, I do maybe floss a bit more than I used to but like certainly not everyday. Stop judging me (please do not let that nugget be your take away). So why suddenly after a lifetime of bleeding gums and intense scaling were my teeth and gums the picture of health? Well, maybe because my nervous system isn’t overwhelmed with inflammatory response and stress hormones. My skin has been improving steadily. I should be angrily sitting with a heating pad on my ovaries right now too because my PMS has always been terrible to debilitating. My neck hasn’t surpassed a 4/10 on the chronic pain scale and is often down to a 1 or zero, since I began tapping on all the underlying issues that my body has been begging for me to acknowledge and release.
So today, I’d like to re-introduce myself. My name is Sarah and I can sit with my son after a long day and hear his struggles with patience, I can stay up late talking to my husband without a heating pad draped around my neck, I clean my house with gratitude, do 3 loads of laundry without a single wince, I can stand on my feet and make a meal for my family without a headache, I can take long walks with my people and my dog and just feel the freedom of my body move through space, I can sit gently or plank purposefully on my yoga mat every morning, I can write for 3 hours and still sit tall when I am done, I can teach students! Whoa…like I am teaching again…I had all but let that career go with my diagnosis.
I can feel my feelings, every single one and know that is truth, not negative or positive, just the plain truth. And when I am ready, I can let them go so I can continue to fully live this life of great blessings and hope.
I am so pleased to finally meet you.