The title of this post is the reason I’ve not written since December 2020, and I wanted to update my readers (if anyone is still there, lol), share my experience, and support those who suffer similar conditions. It’s a milestone to be returning to the writing world, and I plan to create a new website that will include this blog in the near future.
Since 2014, I have been enduring progressive spinal degeneration that caused disabling pain and heralded a journey into continuous and countless treatments and procedures, frightening states of depression and isolation, and suffering that led to a recent spinal surgery I am currently recovering from.
My story is of someone who enjoys her career as a spiritual counselor, is still working in her sixties, and lives alone as a single woman. As my back pain worsened through the years and sitting became intolerable, I watched my social life narrow to eventual non-existence as my core reality became the effort to survive pain and maintain hope, while continuing my practice.
Long-term chronic pain weakens you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It alienates, exasperates, confuses, and drains you. It can change your personality. At its worst, it eats away the very promise of life, and leaves you as an empty shell without hope for the future.
When you have chronic pain of any type, it becomes a journey of self awareness and education, and inevitably forces a change of structure and relationships. Given the current state of the world, it can be difficult to find people with the time, patience, and listening skills to be there for you, and reaching out can become debilitating exposure to disappointment. Personally, I learned to endure everything I possibly could on my own, becoming quite creative in the process, but there is no way around the times in life when we become so vulnerable we need help.
Here is some of what I’ve learned to hopefully support and inspire those suffering chronic pain and for their loved ones who care about them. First, for those experiencing the condition.
Expect more of yourself than others. Trust yourself and your Source to find your way on the journey. Accept breakdowns, failures, and bad days and nights. Expand and express your gratitude. Educate yourself on the condition, as you cultivate your intuition and listen to what your body needs. Talk to someone and don’t give up when people are not available. Be willing to forgive.
Depending on your resources, create a team of practitioners and healers that can be there for you. I finally hired a housekeeper, got massage, discovered a local acupuncturist who offered hypnosis during the session, and found a chiropractor with a decompression table.
Express yourself creatively, journal your feelings and experience, watch movies and read books that inspire and nurture, and listen to or play music. Cultivate your inner and spiritual connections, including the practice of meditation. Grieve what you no longer have or are able to do and be willing to let go. Invest in and feed your belief in your ability to heal beyond any diagnosis. Stay open and curious to what this experience can offer you and look at what it’s forcing you to change.
The greatest offering others can give, is the time to listen and show up. Pay attention to the needs of your loved one and anticipate how you can assist them, before they have to ask. In my case, having a neighbor take out my trash occasionally because lifting was a strain, was enough to brighten my day and outlook. When I couldn’t work, those who donated financially relieved a tremendous amount of stress that enabled me to focus on healing. Having people who don’t give up on you, despite the toll it can take on them to bear witness to your suffering, is priceless.
What I’ve learned through this particular struggle, and all disease, is that whole healing takes a whole lot. It involves not only physical healing, but emotional growth, spiritual awareness, and the ability to change the pain patterns of the brain and create new neuron patterns of wellness and possibility, which I learned from Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work in this field.
Eleven weeks out from spinal surgery, I am happy to be well enough to return to work at the Ojai Valley Inn two days a week and resume phone consultations, and I can feel the potential of greater relief from pain in my body, though I’m realistic of what still lies ahead.
It can be hard to remember we are not our bodies or the conditions in our lives, and to trust our inherent state of limitless possibility. Though it’s not easy to create beyond embedded patterns and damaging conditioning, we can. The conditions of our lives are the teachers for our growth, and every one of us can be a fantastic student who graduates to higher levels.
Never underestimate what you can do to change yourself or someone’s life every single day. Every one of us can choose to love so big and create so fearlessly we evolve into a new reality. I am with you as you strive to go forward, offering the deepest compassion and acknowledgment of who you are, and cheering every step you take!