Finding A New Normal And Healing On My Own Terms.
I have spent a long time navigating the waters of chronic pain… feeling like shit and not knowing why.
Because various doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me, I eventually concluded that it must be all in my head. I began listening to various Positive Thinking gurus who boldly declared that I could believe myself well.
Around the same time, I discovered emotional pain charts and meticulously scanned them in search of answers as to why I hurt all the time. The answer seemed simple enough: just let go of negative thoughts and forgive a few people, and I could certainly create a pain-free world.
I invested much time and energy into crafting a healthy reality for myself, which included turning my back on my dark and negative thoughts and throwing blanket forgiveness over some pretty fucked up shit.
After a few years of suppressing as many negative thoughts as possible and trying to visualize myself whole, when my idea of wellness did not manifest, I gave up on ever feeling normal again. The chronic pain continued to ebb and flow, and I resigned myself to living with things as they were.
I felt like I had done something wrong, and that it was my fault… I had failed.
I did what I could with over-the-counter meds and some diet changes, and I kept process painting and writing — working with it all creatively. As I let things unfold on the page, many of my beliefs began to unravel.
I began to believe that maybe this wasn’t my fault and that it was okay if I had negative thoughts sometimes because… I was human. I began to create a new idea of healing, anchored in a strong belief that I had to discover my own way through it.
I started listening to and respecting myself more — loving what I had initially perceived to be the broken and unlovable parts of me. And I acknowledged and took care of my pain because it was real and had begun to take up a bigger portion of my life. I also started to experiment with self-care and what that meant for me.
Last month, after receiving new health insurance, I went to a doctor who listened to me and ran tests that no one else had. It turns out that there are solid reasons for my pain and general feelings of sickness. It was empowering for me to find out exactly what was going on and to feel I had been heard.
I tell you this not to gain your pity or to put down one way of healing vs. another. I am sharing this because it is a story of success. I am finding my own way of healing, and discovering that healing can happen on my terms and in my own time and doesn’t have to look like someone else’s.
I am succeeding in finding my way to a new normal that includes cultivating unconditional self-love for the darkest parts of me and practicing monumental acts of self-care.
And I want to share this new realization: I can feel sick and in pain, and still be gloriously whole and breathtakingly powerful.
Stephanie Gray is an artist, writer and facilitator of process art. She is the co-owner of Creative Nectar Studio and finds her nourishment through creative self-discovery. Find out more on her website or connect with her on Facebook.