22 June 2006

What Am I Not Letting Go Of?

Thursday 9pm 22June06

I had my first massage swap this week with my friend L. She does
Swedish massage and I do Reiki.

My neck, shoulders and back were filled with stubborn knots. One of L's
first questions was, "When was the last time you had a massage?"

Yeah, healer heal thyself...

As I lay on my stomach and felt her attempts to work through the knots
I kept thinking that they felt like they wouldn't let go. They were
holding their stubborn ground.
Subsequently the question flashed through my mind, What am I not
letting go of? Where in my life am I not letting go? What misguided
beliefs am I not letting go of?

There's something about pain in my body that makes me ask questions
related to that pain.

When I was ten years old I developed stomach problems. I was constantly
sick to my stomach. I went through weeks when I couldn't keep my food
down. The worst of it went on for six years.

My mother took me to the doctor during times when my stomach problems
got progressively worse. I went through all the tests and X-rays,
gagged down the chalk drink that never tasted like a strawberry shake
the nurse said it would taste like. A couple times a year I suffered
through those tests hopeful that the doctor would find a problem, any
problem. Each time after the results were studied I was told that this
real pain was all in my head.

My doctor finally sent me to a child psychologist when I was fourteen
and after a couple visits I couldn't see how this guy (who couldn't
understand why I didn't like getting my period) was going to help me.
Come on, what woman likes getting her period?

My mother threatened to physically hurt my doctor if she didn't figure
out was wrong with me. "She's fifteen for fuck's sake, she's been
suffering with this shit for 5 years you can't tell me that's all in
her head."

My doctor finally saw the light and sent me to a stomach specialist. I
liked him almost immediately. He talked a lot almost like an Anthony
Robbins, expressive and energetic. He told me that he didn't believe
that my stomach problems were all in my head, that he was going to re
do all the tests of the previous years just to make sure nothing could
be found. He questioned me about my weight and self concept to rule out
any eating disorders. Did I think I was fat or over weight? No, I knew
I was physically fit.

He did other tests - an exploratory (a camera in a tube down my
throat); an ultrasound and the like. He still found nothing.

After he told me that he believed I had a nervous stomach and
prescribed me children's Valium he told me a story:
He said, "you are like a fellow student that I went to med school with.
He had to vomit everyday during exams. In fact, he still vomits before
he goes into surgery. Whenever you are upset about something you get
sick. You'll probably be like that for the rest of your life and die

I tried to imagine an eternity of suffering from an upset stomach and
digestive weakness. The image was bleak.

"I don't want to die young," I said.
He banged his hand forcefully on his desk, "You're going to have to
speak up for yourself. If you're mad, say you're mad. Tell the people
your upset with what you are feeling."

Whenever I repeat this story people are shocked by his harshness. No
doctor today could get away with telling a 16 year old girl that she is
going to die young. It woke me up. Sometimes we need the Mack truck to
get our attention. The thought of dying young, what did young mean? Did
it mean I would die at 30 or worse at 20? I was going to die because
people were upsetting me to the point of making me sick? That was
crazy! I wouldn't stand for that.

I like to call that awakening the year that I grew a mouth. My mother
and step father were shocked the first time I spoke up. They weren't
prepared for it. My doctor always insisted that I attend my
appointments without a parent. They had no inkling of what my doctor
said to me because I didn't tell them.

My mother became silently impressed. My step father went from stunned
to angry to scared (by the time I hit eighteen) when it dawned on him
that he could no longer verbally beat me down and I wouldn’t walk
away from a verbal wrestling match. In fact, I’d begun to enjoy
it. My mouth was so quick and I could mix cruel words together and
still not swear. What a liberating feeling to speak up for yourself
after years of silence. it only took me 6 years to get there.

My favorite part of the Color Purple is when Celie finally speaks up to
Mister and he backs down because he's actually scared of her. I lived
that moment. I was Celie.

I stayed on the children's Valium until I moved out on my own and kept
forgetting to take them. I realized that I didn't need them anymore.

In 1991, I got two strange lumps in my neck and my scalp got itchy to
the point where it felt like bugs were crawling all over me. The first
Saturday, I went to emergency and the doctor said it looked like the
German Measles but he wasn't sure. He gave me meds and told me to buy a
special shampoo. During the week, I developed three different rashes
all over my body including the palms of my hands and the bottoms of my
feet. I went back to emergency the following Saturday and although the
doctor was fascinated, he had no clue what was going on with me. He
prescribed oatmeal baths and upped my medication. I would find out in
emergency the following week that it was enough to dope a horse.

On the third Saturday, I woke up and felt like I had obstructions in my
eyes. I couldn't open them all the way. I stayed in bed scared to get
up, knowing full well that this wasn't good. When the courage hit me, I
got up and packed an overnight bag with stuff to do. I knew I was going
to the hospital to stay. I finally walked into the bathroom to check
myself out in the mirror. My face was so swollen that if I didn't know
I walked there I wouldn't know it was me. I had slits for eyes. I
looked like the elephant man.

In the dermatology ward my team of doctors buzzed with fascination over
my plight and said stuff like, "I'm going to give you Lydex for your
face. It's not something I would ever suggest but I figure at this
point, it can't hurt.
Great! That's reassuring.

In the two weeks that I remained in the hospital my team never knew
what I had. They experimented with treatments and my rashes went away.
A work acquaintance recommended that I see a Naturopath and I gave
David Bray a try.

David told me that I had too much heat in my system. Basically my blood
was boiling and presenting rashes all over my body. When I asked what
caused this, he said it was cumulative stress. He asked me two
"What's making your blood boil? Who is getting under your skin?"

Those questions clicked with me like my stomach specialist telling me,
if you don't want to die young you'll need to express yourself. David's
questions made me crystallize what ailments mean and get at the source.

One year when I was getting frustrated with listening to those kind of
people who bludgeon you with their opinions, I kept getting these
wicked colds and my ears were filled with liquid to the point where I
couldn't hear.
What didn't I want to hear?

We're in our bodies for our journey. When I refuse to pay attention or
try to avoid what's happening in my life that Mack truck comes
barreling at me. This week the truck tapped me and I'll have to keep
asking until I discover the answer, what am I not letting go of?

Inspiration from my body.

Happy Birthday Charles Alexander Domingue... wherever you are!


Adrian said...

Wow Bean, you are an inspiration. I have just been reading your blog for the past hour or so and this last piece about "What am I not letting go of in my life" is so powerful my friend!! I never knew any of this about you. Your writing is so clear, sculpted and an inspiration. Thank you for giving it to the world.
I love you to death Bean!!

Shelley-Lynne Domingue said...

Thanks Baby! I'm glad you found something I have to say inspiring...
Love you back!