I’ve been wanting to post this for a while, but I didn’t know when was the right time. People around me keep inspiring me in various ways to get this out there. Just this week Shauna Ahern of Gluten Free Girl inspired me again. Perhaps the time has come for some of us to share the deep, dark muck we’ve struggled through — finally emerging stronger than ever into the light on the other side.
Here’s me, letting you in. It’s not easy to do. I always struggle with letting people in to see me. I fear what they might think. It’s a part of the perfectionism of which I am releasing. I am making this post a part of my therapy, and my path to freedom.
Some of you readers are aware of the stomach pains I was experiencing last year after a terrible gluten encounter due to a curry paste which was labeled gluten free, but which was not free from gluten. I struggled for months with what I thought was gastritis. My symptoms were spot on for it, and I’d even had some success through treatment with some prescription medication. However, the pains returned and I was unsettled for six long months. I even underwent an endoscopy, only be told that there was nothing there to be seen. I was terribly afraid, and I didn’t want to take the medications again after reading the problems associated with them. I joined online support groups for people with gastritis, but only found other people with all the same questions I had. Nobody could understand why they were suffering as they were without answers from those in the medical profession.
During this period I cut out many foods from my diet. I was trying to pinpoint what set me off. I thought I’d figured it out when I had a fitful night after eating some edamame. But, that didn’t seem to be it either. Everything was hurting me. I went through Thanksgiving and Christmas without salt, without pepper, without any hint of spice in my food. Everything was very simple and bland. I ate no dairy either. I really came to understand what those who live with multiple food allergies go through. I can empathize now like I never could before.
When the time came to visit my family I had to make a choice. Would I attempt to maintain the strict diet I was on, or would I just go with the flow and eat was given to me (gluten free of course)? I chose the latter. I chose to relax and go with the flow. I chose to enjoy the time with my family, and to eat without fear and worry. I packed a zillion natural stomach healing products, some prescription medications, and prepared to deal with the pain when it came along. But, it didn’t come along. It never came back. It was just gone. It was like a miracle. It was there, and then it wasn’t. The first night at my mom’s house I ate chicken soup with salt and pepper. The next night I ate spaghetti with a tomato sauce. I had not a pain in my body. I drank hot chocolate. Oh god, chocolate, I hadn’t eaten it in so very very long.
My body was healed. Then, I figured out what happened. My anxiety was manifesting in a new way, and it was being fed by my incessant worry about my stomach pain.
I’ve always had some level of generalized anxiety. I have always been afraid. When I was 18 I started having very recognizable panic attacks. I would wake up with them in the night. I thought I was going to die on more than one occasion. Having Devin then really helped me stay alive. He learned how to bring me back down from the brink. My health was alright then in other ways, but I was still suffering digestive issues that I thought were just tied to lactose intolerance. But, no matter what I ate I just got sick. A few years later I finally eliminated gluten from my diet after doing an elimination diet. It worked. I haven’t intentionally eaten gluten since. My health is much better. My skin is clearer. My nails and hair are stronger. My bones, teeth, and everything feel stronger. My shaking hands are now steady. And, my anxiety has been greatly reduced.
But, my obsessive, controlling perfectionism has not yet fully gone. After six months of horrible pain in my body, mind, and spirit I sought help from a therapist. I made the decision to release myself. Devin supported me greatly, as always, and helped me rediscover happiness without the torture of perfection. I thought I was happy before, but it was a horribly tortured version. I don’t ever want to go there again.
So much is changing for me now, and some of it is scary. But, they’re all good changes and I am learning to understand my fear and where it comes from. I am learning to cope. I am ready to be truly free. I am following my bliss.
Update: A commenter reminded me of the Litany Against Fear from the Dune novels (and films). It is an invocation by the Bene Gesserit. I used to say it to myself during difficult times. Perhaps I need to start reciting it again.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”