This last week I was reminded why it is so important to have someone to ask you questions, which hold a mirror up to your life in a new way. It wasn’t even that it was a question; it was more of an assignment. It wasn’t even the assignment; it was me and what I saw and came to understand about my life. I came to realize that my spinal problems all began during the time in my life when my support system began to disappear and the less supported I felt, the more problems I began to experience with my back and knees.
It all began when my Reiki 1 teacher asked me to do a timeline of my life. I set up my table with the years on one column and then columns for where I lived, relationship with family, friends, partners, illness and disability, and spiritual breakthroughs. I will have to add this epiphany to my timeline as I move forward. What I came to realize is that my back and knee problems began when my relationship with my ex began to dissipate in 2000. At the same time, my mother’s health was rapidly declining, my father was trying to protect me by not wanting me to come home and see her as she was, and I was feeling frustrated not being able to find a full time teaching position. Then in 2001, my ex and I separated, I had to move into my own space by myself for the first time in 20 years, my mother died, and my son almost died. Over the next four years, I went from having a supportive work environment to a series of chairs that were far less supportive then my original chair had been. Then my father became sick and passed away my last semester in seminary.
I wasn’t feeling supported spiritually either. I was told being ordained would not be a problem, but getting a call would and that turned out to be true. When I had the chance to pastor, I jumped at it, thinking I would be supported and over time I came to realize that was not the case. As my support system disappeared, my spinal and knee problems began to flare up and worsen, until I reached the place of stenosis and sciatica and no cartilage in my knees.
The one source of support in all this was my wife. However, she could not change what I was feeling or experiencing in my life. Only I could do that. When I looked at my timeline, I came to realize that my body had been screaming at me to pay attention to the fact that I needed to be in a space where I was accepted and supported. Even after I herniated the second disk in my back and lost all feeling on my lower right side, I still was not hearing the message.
It has been almost four years since I resigned from my pastorate, and while I often ask clients what their bodies are trying to tell them, I realized I had never asked my body that question. When I saw the bigger picture in my time line, I realized what had led me to this space in my life and what my body was saying to me. Now is my time to heal myself.
Over the last three years, I have been developing a new support system of people who love and support me unconditionally. My wife has always been a central part of that support system. I also realized that I have been active about eliminating anyone or anything that has not been supportive. In the one situation, which remains unsupportive, I have minimized my interaction and level of engagement. As I am healing and rebuilding my support system, I am also healing my body and myself. As I work on healing one, I am healing the other.