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Releasing Fear: EFT in the Bathtub

Feeling the feelings

I feel the disquiet in my being today. I’m unsettled and my mind is scattered and wandering. It’s harder to be present to the way the clouds are changing shape or the deep rich smell of the freesias every time I walk past them on the table. Even though my mind used to be 100 miles an hour, it’s quickly adjusted to the new norm of being quieter and more present. So I notice this disquiet more acutely.

In the bath

eft-bathtub-releasingI think it’s partially exhaustion. Deep exhaustion from a long and tiring health journey. The last two months of working out tummy issues. But as I step into the bath, one beeswax candle to flicker its gentle light on the water, I realise that there’s also fear. Fear and other un-namable uncomfortable feelings sitting in my solar plexus. It’s coming from the fact that I’m finding it hard right now to imagine a ‘me’ with my fistula healed. It’s been over 4 years, and I’m struggling to get the picture of what fully healed feels like. That scares me, and then the fear makes more sense.

I start tapping, letting the fears pour out and dissolve into the bath water. You see I’ve found a surgeon in Brisbane who performs the fairly successful VAAFT on fistulas. I also found a fistula research centre in Northern India where they perform a range of procedures. So I’m facing a decision between a 3 hour flight to Australia, or over 20 hours to a foreign country that people warn against ‘Delhi belly’! And right now, with my strength, energy and physical resilience sitting a little low, I choose Brisbane.

IMGs

releasing-the-fearThe problem is I hear my Inner Mean Girls (IMGs) telling me all the reasons it might not be a good idea. I hear their words streaming at me, so I give them a voice while I tap:

  • It might not work!
  • You might be the 20% who don’t have success.
  • What if you get disappointed?
  • Are you even strong enough right now?
  • At this rate you won’t be going anytime soon!
  • What if you’re making the wrong decision and India is the better option?…

I let my IMGs be heard. And I acknowledge their fears. I know why they’re there – they’re just trying to protect me from the painful feelings of disappointment. Really they have my best interests at heart, but now that I’m feeling more in tune with my Inner Wisdom I let them now they can tone their behaviour down.

Winnie

I call this one Warning Winnie. She started years ago when she didn’t want to see the disappointment that followed me getting my hopes really high, time and time again, on something that might ‘fix me’. So, to protect me from the violently emotional crashes that often followed, she starts her monologue whenever I am thinking of trying something new:

  • Oh you know the chances are slim of that working.
  • Try anyway, no harm I suppose, just keep your expectations low.
  • Remember, you’ve tried so many things, don’t let this one get your hopes up!…

Honestly, for a while, her words really served me. I needed that caution when I was throwing everything at anyone who might offer a ‘cure’. It wasn’t until I slowly figured out more of a balanced perspective, that I didn’t need her constant warnings anymore. Once I realised it was also an inside job, this whole healing journey, and that I didn’t have to keep handing over the power to others, I wasn’t desperately searching for the ‘next thing’.

I remind myself of this in the bath as I tap. That now I check in with my body when I’m faced with a decision and see how it sits before blindly pursuing it.

Finding more quiet

So yes, it is scary. Yes, there is a chance the VAAFT might not work. But in the bath I realise I’m not just going to rush into it because I’m tired of waiting. I would have done that a couple of years ago, but now I know to wait and let things unfold. I’m going to go with what my body is sharing with me. If she’s tired and needing time to go inwards, that’s what we’ll do. When she feels strong and ready to go overseas, when my tummy is back to normal, I’ll start the decision process there. I’ll follow my gut…literally. I can meet with the surgeon and decide then, no big deal I tell myself.

One. Step. At. A. Time. No need to rush (something I’ve always found hard ;)). Easier said than done! But one thing this journey has taught me is more patience.

I close my tapping round withbreathing-deeply-releasing-fear gentle reminders to myself that I will tread slowly and from a place of connection rather than fear:

  • Releasing fear at the deepest cellular level…
  • …all the way back through my past…
  • Releasing fear from my entire system
  • Knowing I can do this!
  • Peace

Then I take a deep breathe and in my mind go to my peaceful place: in the waves, diving under and over them and body surfing in the foam.

I’m ready to climb out the bath feeling lighter and calmer in my solar plexus. The gentle candle-light now catches and holds my attention and thoughts aren’t tripping over each other like they were. So I say: Here’s to following love and trust rather than fear!

 

Hope – Four Years Ago

This time four years ago I was discharged from Whangarei Hospital to come ‘home’ to celebrate a friend’s 30th who had driven up from Auckland.

After one of my biggest tummy flare’s, due to the most heavy pressure that I put myself under, I developed a peri-anal abscess. My flare had finally been controlled with oral antibiotics and my fissures healed with fresh aloe vera leaves. A few days later though, I became aware of this intense pain in my bottom area. When I stood up, the throbbing was so concentrated I had to lie back down. I had no idea what it was. I began waking up in the middle of the night to take painkillers. Eventually on one particularly bad night nothing helped. At 1am an ambulance came to pick me up.

A tiny hope flickered, that these months of unwellness might be coming to an end…that I could get on with things…

I hated having to give in and go, but the pain was so unbearable I hoped they could take it away. An hour or so later the doctor on call confirmed a peri-anal abscess and I began IV antibiotics. I spent the next day in Kaitaia Hospital (an hour from home), wondering what all this meant. At the time I didn’t have a smart phone, which is probably a good thing, so I wasn’t trawling the internet for all the possible outcomes. That night I was driven to Whangarei Hospital (2 hours away) in an ambulance, with a large strapping teenage boy who had just had his foot run over by a truck. His pain was palpable. I watched the stars rushing past, branches reaching up to meet them, feeling my aloneness expand and grow.

Long story short I got prodded and poked and examined by young male doctors for 6 days in hospital, still while on IV antibiotics, dragging a stand around with me to the bathroom and back. I was so keen not to risk a surgery near my sphincter muscle that I led myself to believe it was starting to feel slightly better. I still couldn’t stand for longer than a few minutes, but I told myself the antibiotics would take it all away. And I’m not sure if I convinced the doctors and surgeons, or if they really had hope it would go away too.

That small hope gave me an out…

My dad drove me back home. While I had been away Harlan had moved some of our stuff out to a friend’s beachfront cottage, where we stayed for 3 weeks while I recovered. A few friends were already there for the birthday weekend and I had a station set up in the lounge on my massage table. That way I could socialise without moving or having gravity work too hard on my bottom.

I’ve always put on a brave face. A protective shield of strength and independence to guide me through my tough times. But here, in this lounge, a little bit of that toughness was stripped away. I could hide so many of the confused painful emotions, but I felt bare and vulnerable and useless. I had to argue with that need inside myself to always be doing something. Preparing dinner, cleaning, helping. I had to try and let go, even just for a little while.

A week later I had to admit to myself that nothing was changing and my dad drove me back down to Whangarei Hospital. I was operated on overnight – the abscess drained. At 12am I emerged from my anesthesia haze begging for more morphine, and finally by the morning I could stop pressing the button for regular hits into my bloodstream. The pain eased, and with it came a trip back to the beach cottage that day. Erin, a district nurse, was booked to visit and attend to dressings.

This was the beginning of the end I told myself. With the abscess drained, I could fully heal and ‘get on with my life’. A little hope bloomed in my belly…

“Do you think I can book my flights for Australia in a few weeks?” I asked Erin about a week after the surgery. It felt like things were healing nicely and a lot of the pain had gone away. I had planned on heading back to the grain silos in South Australia to earn some summer cash.

“Just wait and see,” she replied, “wait for it to get better before you go and do that.”

Wise words. Hopeful words. Imagine if she had known the future.

Imagine if she had said: “No way don’t book those flights, you ain’t going nowhere. You’re going to think this is all healed, and then you’ll realise it’s created a fistula. You know, that condition you’ve read about, but tried to push out of your mind? You won’t be able to sit, standing will be tricky and walking won’t really be any fun for months…kind of almost years really…”

That’s where hope and optimism is a good thing. If someone had actually told me what was in store for me. All the pain and anguish, disappointment and raging emotions I’d have to experience, I would have given up. Right then and there. As we left the beach house and I could feel a bigger pain starting in my bottom again.

But no one did and so I kept hoping. I kept visualising and praying and doing whatever it took to give me moments of courage that this would pass quickly. That life would return to ‘normal’…

And now, here I am four years on, still with a fistula. It turns out I had to learn to get on with my life as it was, not how I wanted it to be. Not how I thought it should be. I had to learn to live it as it was. I had a new normal. An ever-changing normal. These last four years have been a rollercoaster ride of note. I’ve had such highs of goodness and hope, and I’ve had such deep dark lows that I’ve wished the lights would go out.

But through it all, somehow…hope.

I’ve used that sheer determination and strength that used to hide away that vulnerability, to navigate this journey. To keep going, one foot in front of the other. When courage collapses, I pick it back up and shake it around. Sometimes I yell at it and ask it to let me give up. But in the end I need it there to help me grow, journey and transform myself along this exploration of life and self. I want the courage, because what a path we’ve walked!

When I say I’ve had hope, I suppose it’s been more like my bedrock. I haven’t always felt like it’s there, but some part of me must…

Hope, stubbornness and determination have led me to a place of freedom. I may not have freedom to sit and travel the world and do those sorts of things right now. I used to pin a lot on those, but now I look elsewhere. There is now a deep flowing freedom in my soul that I never thought possible. Freedom from so many ties and expectations, criticisms and comparisons that kept a firm noose around my neck all those years. That noose sometimes choking me of the ability to breath in life and enjoy it as it was.

So here’s to hope.

And here’s to freedom. To letting go. Sometimes we go looking for freedom and find it in unexpected places. Other times we hope-letting-gohave a very clear and firm picture of it, only to learn that it looks totally different. It actually feels nothing like we imagined. It’s even bigger and better.

I know hope can bring disappointment. That I know more than anything. But I also know that hope brings with it the ability to carry on and navigate and move, even when you have no idea what’s in front of you.

Right now, in this moment, I honestly think that the most important thing is to hold onto hope, but to let go at the same time. Keep moving forward, but don’t limit yourself with rigid expectations and shoulds.

Let life unfold without you fighting it and constantly reimagining the life that is happening to you in this moment.

The Desperation to be ‘Fixed’!

The fuel of desperation

Desperation was my driving force, my momentum for the first 2 ½ years on this journey with a fistula. Every possibility, every magic pill, potion and lotion I would dive at it, desperation fuelling my direction, my hope. I searched, tirelessly for natural cures, balms, miracle stories on the internet and the next wonder worker in New Zealand, heck in the world.

It was exhausting. Desperation is an exhausting place to be in. Gentleness and desperation don’t live together too well, and so life was full on in an excruciatingly slow kind of way.

desperation-shores-insanityLife as I knew it had been turned upside down. Ideas had been crushed. Insanity often crept into my peripheral vision, lurking there, waiting for me to let down my guard. Sometimes I couldn’t help myself and I dived head first into the murky mess of it, flailing, sobbing, wishing for another world. Luckily I am a good swimmer and I would eventually get myself out of those currents and beach myself on the shore, exhausted, with nothing left to give.

‘They’ said “Acceptance is the biggest healer. If you can accept your fistula, accept life as it is, life is going to be a hell of a lot easier.

God I knew they were right. I knew if I could just accept my lot that struggle would reduce and I might find some peace in my monkey mind. But it’s easier said than done I’m afraid. I tried. You can’t accuse me of not trying. I tapped on it for days, for weeks. I mean even the basic tenant of tapping is to ‘deeply and completely love and accept myself (just how I am)’.

I don’t know what came first. A lessening of pain and struggle or the work of wonderful healers, an accumulation of tools in my toolbox and the amazing journey I began with my counsellor in Canada. Or maybe it was the perfect synergy. Does it really matter? Either way, under a year ago desperation’s fuel light came on. I didn’t realise. You know how when you’re on a mission to get somewhere in the car and it takes you ages to actually realise there’s an orange fuel tank glaring at you? That’s what happened to me. On some level I sensed a change, but it was subtle and unexpected. Plus, don’t we get used to the status quo so quickly?

On empty!

Desperation began to stutter and choke. I wondered what all the fuss was about and then one day I suddenly realised I felt a gentleness in the periphery. I would read something about an amazing cream and not start pulling my credit card out, ready to have it sent on the next courier. People would tell me about healers or links or books and I wouldn’t pounce on them for more.

It was a novel change. Unexpectedly, instead of feeling this desperation to be fixed, I felt a hunger for change and growth. The soul searching I did with Debra made we want to find more of the inner peace that was beginning to take form.

change-directionsMy relationship with myself grew to a whole new level. Of course I still wanted a healed bum. Of course I didn’t want to have to spend the rest of my life sitting on my haunches hurting my very patient knees. I didn’t want to have to wear a panty-liner every. single. day. of. my. life. But the majority of the time I had changed direction on my journey. I was seeking peace, I was catching moments, right here and now.

There were still the bad days. Days where I would find myself on the carpet (because that doesn’t require pressure on your bottom) rocking myself from side to side begging. Begging the angels, begging the Universe, begging Mother Earth to just get this over and done with already. How f%@#ing long was it going to go on for?

A gentleness

The great thing is, these times passed quicker and also more gently than before. I didn’t wallow in the feeling, desperately trying to feel positive, desperately looking for solutions. Instead it was easier for me to just be with my emotions. Watch them like a wave and know that they too would pass.

The reason I write all of this, if you’re still with me, is that I have a semi ‘ultimatum’. The surgeon has proposed a draining seton on the 30th of June if I don’t feel a heck of a lot better. You see, just before I went to see him, with the idea of taking myself and this seton to explore kshar sutras in India or Austria, I decided to try my body with Ayurveda. finding-gentlenessNot out of desperation but curiosity. And it’s actually really loving it so far. I’m only three weeks in, but hey who knows where it may take me.

So, 95% of the time I feel really calm about it all, I trust that my body will do exactly as it has to, and I will be very clear of what direction to take closer to the time. My body and I are pretty in sync these days, so our communication is great.

A sip of fuel…

However, I think this ultimatum must have put a cup of fuel in desperation’s tank, because I feel the odd lurch and cough from it at the moment. “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to heal before the 30th of June.” “Oh my gosh, I don’t even know if I want to go the seton/kshara sutra route yet.” “What else can I do to speed my healing even more right now?” “Who can I call on? What can I take?

Thank goodness these are very fleeting and far apart. I have time. I have choices. And deep down inside my inner wise woman knows the answer. So instead of falling into a desperate flailing mess trying to find those answers, I relax back into that gentleness and remind myself that I don’t need fixing. That I don’t need answers now. That what my mind body and spirit need most right now is calm. Peacefulness, gentleness and that deep deep love that every human craves.