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Whispers & Shouts

photo of tree

Pale, frail, and thin. That’s how I have always been described when I was young. In my mid-20s, I cloistered myself from the outdoors, perfume departments, and smoking sections. Odors drained my energy and gave me migraine headaches that sent me to bed, begging for quiet, darkness, and relief from the pain. The next morning I would be miraculously well. As soon as I walked outside, however, my demeanor and strength would fade.

I started trekking to a plethora of doctors, but my health continued to crumble. Sinus infections returned. Mononucleosis hit me again. I suffered a miscarriage. Distraught, I dragged my throbbing head to bed and prayed I wouldn’t wake up. I got migraine after migraine after migraine. “A lot of women get migraines,” one doctor said. “Just try to relax more.”

Meditation and hypnosis helped somewhat, but it’s difficult to unwind when pain ties muscles into knots. Blood tests revealed nothing. CAT scans suggested I needed nose surgery to relieve chronic sinus infections. Yet after the surgery, deemed as a complete success by my doctor, my symptoms returned—the headaches, the infections, the pain.

I continued seeing specialists. I cautiously tried alternative medical treatments. I did acupuncture, shiatsu, homeopathy, biofeedback, and chiropractic. Each one I tried brought improvements—but not full health.

To add to the stress of maneuvering through the medical maze—both through conventional and alternative medicine—my insurance deemed many of my treatments as either “experimental” or “not medically necessary.” My out-of-pocket medical bills often would top more than $1,000 a month.

I became sicker and sicker. I almost died. Infections raced through my body, and the most powerful of antibiotics couldn’t stop them. Finally a new doctor made the observation, “We’ve got to do something fast.”

The doctor placed me on a strict diet—not in terms of how much I ate but what I ate. He tested me for food allergies, and he was shocked when the results came back. I had 32 food allergies—the most he had ever seen in a patient. For five years, I stopped eating dairy, wheat, eggs, sugar, and chocolate. Although the changes we made were quick and dramatic, the progress of getting well was slow. The path was bumpy, scary, lonely, and frustrating. The quick-fix model that I had grown to expect from our health care system—didn’t work. I had to let my body heal slowly and on its own schedule.

During those dark, dark years, I would pray—begging God to relieve my suffering. I saw God as some sort of Santa Claus who wouldn’t give me what I wanted, and I was mad. What I didn’t realize until years later that God isn’t someone who gives and takes but a God who is always there—no matter what happens.

Until that time, I had always believed that caring yourself was selfish. We are human beings with great promise and potential, but we are also human beings who need to rest and nourish our bodies as well as our souls.

Now I know—and highly respect—how my body has limits. If I’m going in directions where I should not go, it’s my body that objects first—not my soul. I now pay close attention to what my body says. Even when it says something I vehemently disagree with.

My bodywork therapist says she has a client with a left arm that acts up. When my therapist first asked this woman what the arm was about, the woman said, “Oh, that. That’s the unhealed mother part of me.”

My therapist—who has a very difficult relationship with her mother—said, “You just have your mother in your arm? My mother gets me here, here, and here” as she pointed to her shoulders, her stomach, and her knees.

Not everyone has a tense relationship with a parent, but this example illustrates how the unhealed parts of our soul can show up in the unhealed parts of our body. I now see God at work around me and within me. Sometimes it’s through these intuitive nudgings that I do not always understand at first, and sometimes it’s through the aches and messages from my body.

Written by Jolene Roehlkepartain.