Published July 10, 2021 by Jackie Olmstead Good morning, my dear One! Today I am discussing the ideas of how healing begins after conquering the addiction. After. The processing of healing and how patience and compassion remind us that not only is our life full of “day at a time” mantras but also one-addiction-at-a-time thinking.
There are many things that we adopt in our lifestyle that help us cope. From birth through the moment we realize that some of these things have crossed the threshold of helping us to becoming full-on disaster breakdowns of the functionality of living well.
Some of us talk about how we even might bring the tendencies and behaviors into this lifetime from previous lifetimes. That’s a whole other discussion that I would love to ponder and discuss with you in another writing. I believe that it does affect our choices in this lifetime and I do not dismiss this at all. In fact, our tendencies today definitely reflect what we need to do in order to heal other lifetimes. It can feel overwhelming and mind-blowing, but looking at the big picture of who we are in this human experience is very loving to ourselves.
As you already know, but perhaps haven’t thought about lately, healing is a multi-layered experience. What I mean is that it’s a holistic process that needs to be honored and embraced.
Recently, I watched one of my doctors posting online a photographic series of the work she did with one of her horse patients. Fascinating, gruesome and beautiful all at the same time. The first set of photographs showed how the horse had experience a deep tearing gash in his leg from some accident. Multi-layered wound: Flesh, bones, blood, ligaments, vessels, fascia etc. Just like us. What was so exciting was seeing the healing work she did with the laser treatments, before, during and after. You could see the wound healing from the inside out and also the outside merging it all back together.
Miraculous. Your body is doing this all day long, my dear One. We forget. That is our job as healers, teachers, coaches and the medical community to remind you. So just like the physical body healing we can heal the other parts of ourselves as well.
You might have done these things to your body over the years (or continue to do so):
- Drinking alcohol
- Abusing drugs or prescription medicines
- Eating foods that are processed, non-organic, contain caffeine or gluten
- Eating foods derived from animals
- Staying in a relationship where you cannot be your best self (toxic)
- Maintaining home or work environments that are toxic
Each of these has the effect of causing harm to your body, mind and soul to different extents. I refer you to my continuum from one of my old videos where I discuss where your ideal health exists, where you are now and where a reasonable point exists where it is pushing your limits of being really healthy vs. going too far for your current abilities. Does that make sense? Because we can take away all these factors of damage to our bodies but the stress level of doing all of it at once is not healthy or recommended.
I remember when I first got “sober” in a 12-step program back in 1990 and I expressed to my first “sponsor” that I didn’t want to quit smoking yet. It felt too hard while initially stopping the alcohol. Her wisdom of compassion and knowing that healing is a step-by-step journey helped me feel that for myself and I waited until I was ready to stop smoking later. This type of healing work was crucial in my learning how to heal one thing at a time. Each thing that I’ve ever stopped that was eventually hurting me required time and a certain amount of healing, like the wound on the horse.
The other thing is that each item on that list has greater or lesser consequences of damage in our life. It certainly is different for each person. In the 12-step programs it is called a “bottom”, where we have reached a level of “I have to change NOW.” and if we don’t, we will lose something very big in our lives. Sometimes it’s our actual life. Sometimes it’s people around us, jobs, kids, money, our sanity. Sometimes, it’s about preventing something as big as getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other big life killers. Urgency is an interesting thing to ponder for each of these.
As I wrote about in my last blog entry, in my situation of being diagnosed with celiac disease, I HAD to get off gluten overnight. The invisible and not-so-invisible symptoms of eating gluten were life-threatening that affected me so much that I had become suicidal. My hematologist told me that that was a major symptom of being extremely anemic as a result of the celiac disease. And it was untreated for years, so it had become a “bottom” for me, even though it wasn’t an addiction per se, but something I was doing to my body unknowingly.
Do any of these things on the list affect you today? Yes, even for me because eating processed foods and occasionally non-organic foods is very much not an urgency to quit since I do my best to eat whole foods plant based MOST of the time. Also, I am not perfect with some things, but others I adhere to easily and without compromise. I simply choose to never do some of them (a day at a time) but with conviction and without feelings of regret, stress or pause.
Regarding fad diets: I believe they all had good intentions with what they were initially trying to teach, however, they all are derived to create a “product” to sell. And many are actually harmful if you don’t learn about them from many other sources other then their own marketing. At the moment, this post today is not about going into the specifics of why each one is not good for you. My stance: Adopting a whole foods plant based gluten free lifestyle is as healthy and stress-free that you can get. It’s also not a fad. Feel free to check out my resource page for more information if you’d like.
Here’s my underlying feeling: Thank God healing does not happen overnight. Why?
(1) We have better compassion for what we’re going through by giving ourselves and our bodies time to process what comes up for us during the detoxification in its own time. Because things WILL come up and it is good and it is our body talking to us, releasing what has not served us anymore. And the most awesome thing that can come up around it is a feeling of knowing why you used that thing that damaged you and a love for Self for using it until it was time to let it go.
(2) We gain a much better understanding of how and why it all came to be in the first place, why we used it, how did it help initially. When you end up with the thoughts of “Oh wow! Ok! Yes, I understand now.” For things we didn’t even know were hurting us, like eating animal foods, we learn the true nature of what our bodies need to thrive because when you do experience eating plant based, you FEEL the difference and your body acknowledges the choice. Dr. Michael Greger, MD talked about it in his book How Not to Die is like every time you eat animal products, it’s like banging your shin with a crow bar (paraphrased). Each day, your body does attempt healing from the damage, but then you do it again and it has to start again. Over and over. You see?
(3) Taking the time to detox, get clean, remove each item from the list of damaging you allows your body to chemically and emotionally adjust. One thing at a time, please. Chemical processes in our bodies translate into emotional responses. Even movement of muscles and tissues, for example in the work with Polarity Therapy, can trigger memories and emotions. Doing too much at one time can literally overwhelm the body and mind.
(4) I relate to the 12-step programs many times because it was instrumental in my massive growth over the years and I learned so much from that community. Priceless and I am so grateful for it. It was woven into my being, this learning. And yet, it was only the beginning of my transformation into well-being. I don’t agree with all of the psychology behind it but I will never dismiss it as a tool to not use, in fact, it is an excellent starting point.
(5) Another way to think about doing these changes to your lifestyle: In therapy we talk about how when one person changes and gets better (or worse) everyone else in this person’s web or hanging mobile is affected directly and they all must adjust accordingly. Some will accommodate the change and shift too, modify their role in the web. Others resist and simply cannot function. A silly metaphor is if you have cats or dogs who sleep with you and you are sleeping on one side and they are cuddling with your legs but you turn over. Their choice is either move as well or get upset because of this shift and jump off and go sleep on the couch. But do you see what I mean? They could choose to get squished or shift or get out of there all together. It is not easy how it relates to our human experience to see others around us not go along with our growth. Think about what happened in 2016 with the elections, how so many families became divided. The shift that happened in our country is an example of change that happened to most of us. Some of us have still been able to communicate and heal our differences, some have lost many old friends because of one side not accepting the other’s beliefs.
(6) My dad always said, “We’re never ‘done’. When we’re done, we’re dead.” I love my dad and lots of things he has taught me over the years. I love this quote because it’s about doing the best we can, grow, heal, and not stress about doing it perfectly or completely. Be as healthy as you can and if it becomes too much, back off a little. Take your time. A teacher, coach, mentor or medical professional can help tremendously.
(7) What is most important to heal now? Make a priority list of what you would like to either detox from or change overall. Take it one at a time. Simple to say, but important to remember every day, “Why am I doing this?” For me it was an easy choice of not eating gluten any more (#1). For me after reading countless books and articles and medical data about eating animal products, (#2) I don’t eat any animal products. Seeing my mom die from cancer and not wanting that for myself or my family did it for me. Once I understood how I can prevent and/or avoid that, I make a conscious choice in 2016 to stop that. It wasn’t overnight. It took several months, but I learned how. The other things I have changed in my life were equally as important and urgent (one at a time).
I’m sure you’ve heard this and perhaps don’t believe it, but I do now, “YOU CAN DO THIS.” Whatever it is you want to do. I love you.