I have Crohn’s disease, a chronic illness that the medical community has yet to discover a cure for. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition that belongs to a group of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases as do Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Ulcerative Colitis. This illness has been with me so long, that it has become part of my identity. It is a part of who I am so much so that, as I have become more self-aware, I have learned that I may actually be standing in the way of healing. It took me a while to figure that out.
Joseph asks fantastic questions when you are ready for them. He is the one who opened my eyes to the fact that deep down I may not WANT to be healed. How ridiculous, huh? Who would not want to be healed of an incurable illness that effects their digestion? Wouldn’t I love to even occasionally be able to eat whatever I want without paying the consequences later on? All of the pain and discomfort, why the hell would I want to hang on to it? The exercises I have been given for my Practice have had me searching within, learning about myself, making connections where I thought there were none. It really wasn’t much of a surprise when I recently discovered that my physical illness is connected to everything that I think and feel about myself and the world around me.
For me in particular, I was wearing my illness like a badge of honor; I could do and accomplish all that I have in spite of the hand that I was dealt in life. This was a recent discovery and one that I didn’t think much of at first. So what? Shouldn’t I be proud of the adversity I have had to overcome? Then I started digging some more. Peeling back the layers and…oh…it was nasty. It’s not just a badge of honor, but also a crutch when needed. It’s embarrassing to even think that I may indeed use my disease, let alone publish that fact on the internet. I used (use?) it as a centerpiece of my identity. Recently within the past year as I have explored shamanism, I came across the term sacred illness, which refers to a kind of initiatory illness that calls a person into shamanism. Oh fancy, another cool way I can refer to my Crohn’s disease (it’s better than crutch, ay?).
But in all fairness to myself, I was ignorant. I can understand how some people choose to remain so. But some things once seen cannot be unseen. Now that I am no longer ignorant or at least becoming less and less so, there is no excuse but to keep digging and make the changes. It’s difficult and painful in many ways, but the end result is healing and a better life for myself and those I love and care about.
I will heal because I love myself. I will heal because I love my family and friends. I will heal so that I can help others to heal.