It was a week of wonder. A week of hearts breaking open to let love pour in. It was a week to grow through, with, into, under and over. It was a week to be, me.
And it was a week of learning. Of learning to be cared for and to care for myself. It was a week to feel humbled.
It began on Wednesday evening. I hadn't been feeling well most of the day but, in my inimitable fashion, pushed back physical sensations to focus on the task at hand. Being there for the trainees.
Except, sometimes my body has a will of its own and Wednesday it took over and suddenly I found myself in an ambulance on the way to the Emergency room.
Now, let's be clear. I am not good at looking 'weak'. I am not good at letting my body have its way. So, the fact that I'd lain on the floor in fetal position for an hour trying to will the pain in my lower abdomen away until finally one of the other coaches who is a nurse said, 'that's it, we are not listening to you any longer, we're calling an ambulance' -- really ticked me off.
I mean, seriously. Too big a show for me. I should be able to just 'get over it'. And if I can't get over it, at least just drive myself home.
It was not to be.
And in it's not being, I was given a gift of caring and an opportunity to grow.
Ends up, I had a blockage -- pain medication, time and rest were the only things that could help it dissipate on its own. At least the physical blockage did. It's the mental blockages that are slower to retreat, slower to recede into memory leaving me free to dance in all kinds of weather, sing in the rain and laugh at thunder. It's the mental trip that plays the most havoc.
The mental one is the one that says, "Quit faking it Louise." "Don't be such a baby." "Stand up. Don't make a scene."
Ah, that blockage is a tad bigger and more challenging than the physical pain -- and far more difficult to flow through.
That blockage comes from the 'there and then'. That time long ago as a child when I was told to 'be quiet'. To not complain. To quit whining. Those times when my fears and tears were pushed away or minimized or just not acknowledged.
Like the time when I was twelve. It was a week after I'd gotten home from hospital after my appendix was taken out and I awoke in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. I was crying and no one believed me. My father, a man who when he awoke from having had his appendix out in a hospital in Paris, pulled out the IV and took a cab home, said to my mother, "Give her an aspirin and tell her to go back to sleep." Eventually, they had to re-operate to repair a tear in my abdomen.
I am always amazed how messages from the 'then and there' are translated in the 'here and now' as self-defeating behaviours and limiting beliefs.
On Wednesday, I sat in the seminar room for a couple of hours, focusing hard on the facilitator, working with my small group, willing the pain away. I worked hard at being present while pain ricocheted throughout my body.
At dinner break, I told my buddy coach I was not going to eat but would just go for a walk. I walked into a back room, lay on the floor in a corner, willing the pain to go away. I could not tell anyone I was in pain. I would not.
Until someone came in to grab something from the room and saw me.
Damn. I was pretty convinced I could eventually get the pain under control and get back to work.
As a friend describes it when he is trying to ignore anger, or fear, or even tears. "It's like trying to control diarrhea with your mind. It's going to come out no matter what you think."
In the end, I'm feeling better, lost a few pounds and even found the 'funny' in the situation. I mean really, I'm an experiential learner. I need big experiences to get the message sometimes!
And, in this learning, I have come front and centre with two of my greatest fears -- Acknowledging my pain and being cared for.
I've noticed it in the past. When I've been hurt or scared. I tell myself, I'm okay, I can handle it. I plaster a smile on my face and keep moving. And I am, ok, as long as no one asks me -- "Are you okay?"
In their concern, tears erupt and I retreat.
It's the contradiction of the inner child's need for succor and my adult resistance to accepting care, that people care, that I matter.
And what a wonderful learning it is.
I had an amazing week. I took care of myself. Stepped back when I needed to take care of myself. Sat out when I needed quiet. I let others help me. Let others express their care for me.
And in the receiving I was given the gift of Love. Love of self. Love of others. Love.
And as to those tapes... those self-limiting beliefs that I don't matter, I don't need anyone, I am 'ok' even when I'm writhing in pain -- well, they may never go away but I can acknowledge them and learn to love them by loving myself enough to listen to my heart calling me to take care of myself, so that I am strong enough and well enough to take care of others.
And in taking care of me, I take better care of the world around me.