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“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor FranklTragedy

At the age of thirty-five, I was raising two children, struggling in my marital relationship and at an impasse regarding my career. I wanted to practice as a psychotherapist, but was seemingly stuck in a Catch-22; in order to attain licensure I needed to secure professional supervision in a job I could not secure without my state license. I felt like I was in a vice and could not move forward. I remember walking out to my deck and desperately screaming to God, the Universe, to anyone who would listen, “Please let something change. I would do anything to get through this hopelessness.”

It was soon after that that the subtlest neurological symptoms began to appear in my body. I was able to stave off major anxiety until my husband returned home for the holidays, and then I lost it completely into a state of high anxiety. It was as if I could immediately imagine the outcome of the illness, with all of the devastating limitations. Either I remembered the pre-birth planning of this possible challenge, or the option that terrified me more, my greatest fear would be realized-catastrophic illness. After all, I had heard the new age theory that thoughts become reality. If the latter option would manifest, I would be riddled with shame and helplessness. I desperately sought any strategy or support that would render me innocent, innocent from ruining my mission in life to help change the world into a better place, innocent from abandoning my children when they most needed me, and innocent from disregarding the life I had been given. With this shame riddled process, debilitating anxiety was assured.

In retrospect, I can see how all of my self-hatred was being brought to the surface to be dealt with. I lost thirty pounds that I could not afford. However, I was also completely present to my process of plunging into the depths of my soul. My meditations were rich with instructive symbols and messages. I knew that if I didn’t move forward, I would die. I could now see that I didn’t incarnate to merely tread water. Despite constant anxiety attacks, I secured a job with a community mental health clinic as a psychotherapist. In addition to being a therapist by day, I would assess after-hour emergencies, many of which were people surviving suicide attempts or dramatic circumstances. In the midst of my own crisis, I remember telling my friend and colleague that I could not become suicidal, because I would have to call myself. My humor has been a tremendous gift throughout this ordeal. In the midst of facing my greatest fear in life, I was able to detach enough to also be a witness to the process.

Having been raised in an atheistic, though culturally Jewish family, there was no God in my house. However, I had always felt a deep, spiritual connection to nature and animals, recognizing these connections as greater than how they appeared on the surface. This Knowing of the interconnectedness expanded to include humans while I was in intensive group therapy in my thirties. At this critical time, this spiritual connection became internalized. Perhaps this ordeal was necessary to trust my inner Guidance above all else, in order to ascend spiritually for myself and others. It was becoming clear that the symptoms were a call for me to balance the love in my life that was too outer directed and needed to be redirected internally as self-love.

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist who encountered his transcendental ordeal when sent with his family to a concentration camp during the 40s. Dr. Frankl, being the only survivor in his family, became a leader in existential and humanistic psychology. He posited that it was essential to find greater meaning in all of life’s circumstances, especially those that were more brutal and catastrophic. It is only by attributing greater meaning to these horrific experiences that one could lead a meaningful life.

Today, there is much suffering in the world that is getting purified by souls who are willing to live a meaningful life with catastrophic injuries and illnesses. I would like to spend the rest of my life reminding myself and others of this higher, Sacred purpose for what we would otherwise believe to be unnecessary suffering.

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“One works on oneself as a gift to other people so one doesn’t create more suffering. I help people as I work on myself and I work on myself to help people.” -Ram Dass

1-brighworldI’ve written before about my intuition that this illness is an opportunity to heal a very specific developmental fracture in my life, one involving attachment. I also have cited four other cases where individuals with progressive multiple sclerosis incurred early trauma from provocative maternal relationships. This connection has always been of interest to me, but a superficial study of five individuals does not prove a hypothesis. Nevertheless, exploring this anomaly in my own life has been extremely compelling, especially since I spend so much time in my chair allowing such an inquiry to evolve, with little distraction.

I keep thinking that I am complete with this lifetime, that I am in the throes just prior to my transition. I have completed my will, had the talks with my family anyone would wish for, arranged for my celebration/cremation. I even selected a master of ceremony, family liaison, created a CD to leave for loved ones, distributed many of my material items, and much more. However, more emotional/spiritual material seems to be surfacing.

The other day while I was re-experiencing a level of grief that was so familiar and primal that it had to be primordial, I experienced a visual that maybe gave the grief some context. I realize that I may lose some people at this point in my reporting. Being a visual learner and having practiced a form of breathwork that traverses non-ordinary states of consciousness for over fifteen years, intuitions seem to come to me in visual form. I understand that others may not access the source of teachings in the same way. Please bear with me.

The vision was presented as if exploring a geographical location with Google Earth; it was like traveling through a wormhole from the macro to the micro of my physiology. It also traveled through my development, the point of destination being a tiny pinpoint spot on my neural tube. The understanding I received was that there had been a fracturing sustained, not only during my pre-verbal stage of development, but pre-birth, probably during the first month of pregnancy before my mother even knew she was pregnant.

I had been feeling for the last months that this condition of my body had reached a plateau of sorts. The goal-oriented part of me wanted to be done with it, done with this rigorous curriculum and the inability for any outward bodily movement to happen volitionally. Being completely dependent on others had become tiresome. This plateau was feeling like treading water. This vision completely left the illusion that healing was not happening in its tracks. I clearly saw this pinpoint place in my nervous system, this place where early fracturing did not allow for the necessary emotional attachment to occur. With this vision came the realization that though I feel nothing significant is happening, actually some of my deepest healing is, in fact, occurring in my nervous system.

Perhaps this illness provided the most expeditious way for this fracturing to heal so that wholeness could be attained. My mother had been both complicit and a central part of the healing. I was shown that this fracturing was an accumulation of unresolved traumas from previous lifetimes.

With this vision came much peace and gratitude, gratitude for the strength to see this illness through and to appreciate my helpers along the way, both embodied and disembodied. This vision further revealed that once this fracturing was healed, it transformed into a portal to the infinite, to other galaxies and to the multi-verse. Ironically, five weeks ago I asked my caregiver to draw a symbol that would be lovingly fabricated by a local artist onto a plaque for individuals cremated ceremonially in our beloved community. The symbol that came to me was of two ellipses intersecting. There was a small circle in the intersection that represented my present life. The horizontal ellipse represented my temporal life and the vertical ellipse represented my Spiritual life. I now understand much more about this circular pinpoint.

Two months ago my three-year-old grandson and his father constructed a spaceship out of recyclables. This is the text he dictated to his father to write on the spaceship:

August, 2015
Dear Gram, I love you so much, Gram. you are like a miracle. Model aircraft blasts off, it goes to fifteen galaxies. I’m giving this to you as a present. I love you so much, River

The greatest gift I could give in this lifetime has been to be of service to others. With the healing of each internal fracture comes more love and forgiveness for all sentient beings. Continuing this sacred healing journey for myself and others is my gift and my prayer.

“You wait a lifetime to meet someone who understands you, accepts you as you are. At the end, you find that someone, all along, has been you.” -Richard Bach

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Siegfried Zademack

I recently shared with my dear friend Alice, who is on a similar Journey as me, that with this illness I believe we are being brought into greater balance. The personal journeying she has shared with me recently has affirmed this Knowing. I wanted to share some of my deep, personal balancing.

I have been particularly touched by a couple I have known for some time, who has been journeying through MS together. One has the illness, but they are together in their commitment of seeing this curriculum through. After David left, I communicated with Stephen to ask what enables him to stay. His response was so profound and personal that I will not share it on a blog; suffice it to say that he expressed reverence and deep love in his serving. Hearing his perspective gave me so much hope for humankind and appreciation for these friends whose lives are unexplainably interconnected with mine.

From time to time, we check in with each other to share strategies and mutual respect. As I near the end of my ten week commitment to The Presence Process* with this week’s theme being, I FORGIVE MYSELF, what keeps coming up is that I need to forgive myself for having this illness. Everything else has been forgiven, but this last piece seems intransigent.

During our most recent communication, I must have shared my pain and disappointment about traversing this journey alone in contrast to their shared path. There have been so many similarities and synchronicities along our respective paths, it is surely not a coincidence.

But for me, David left. Stephen expressed something remarkable to me. “… dearest Aliyah, I have fallen for you in a way I cannot explain. Somehow there is a sisterhood of like souls on similar voyages and somehow the two of you have me on the same liferaft. You make it easier for me to care for [my wife]. I feel that I could be with you in your situation with perfect ease…” That last line was the clincher. I could not stop sobbing. He had struck a nerve. Pun intended.

I was able to see the part of me that is so balled up and black that I cannot possibly be lovable. After all, David adored me and he could not leave fast enough. As I sat with the pain in my being, and allowed myself to soften and expand around this pain, I realized that it was myself that I could not forgive. Somehow, this invitation allowed me to see the deepest judgment I held was for myself: I had been so cruel to my mother when she was sick for ten years of my young life. My mother has long since forgiven me, but I had not forgiven me! My healing with this illness has involved revisiting the primary relationship with my mother, as I have described in much detail in previous blogs.

It has taken Stephen’s kindness and devotion for me to access that place that we can perhaps call the missing piece. I also understand why I could never maintain a primary relationship and simultaneously do my deepest healing. I would fetishize and romanticize the love from others to protect myself from touching into this blackness. I had to hear love from another person, but also someone from the same liferaft. It is a wondrous process to unlock the depths of where we cannot love ourselves.

It is by entering our deepest wounds where illness can sometimes be just the medicine we need for bringing us into greater balance.

*a book by Michael Brown

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there!” -Rumi

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I am calling hospice today to see if I qualify for their services. Living in the wilderness, there are few services available in our area. Even the home health organization cannot provide outreach for our area anymore. Although I am self-sufficient, occasionally there are issues that are beyond me medically. For example, a few weeks ago my heart rate went to 152 while I was standing, so I was exerting. I didn’t know who to consult.

Making the decision to call hospice came from me. Nobody referred me to them, not the home health organization that regretfully discharge me, not the doctor who agreed to be my primary care doctor, not my caregivers or friends, some of whom are nurses. I don’t think anybody wanted to connect me with THAT organization. So it really wasn’t a matter of neglect or oversight, but perhaps it was more a matter of denial, denial and grief.

We called and although I don’t qualify for their short-term program (hooray), I qualify for their long-term palliative care program. Palliative care is defined as multidisciplinary approach to providing medical care for those with serious illnesses, to relieve pain, symptoms and stress. The administrative person explained the program and said with a doctor’s order, I could sign the paperwork. I explained that I cannot use my hands and she suggested a power of attorney. A power of attorney to me suggests deferring power to another. Doesn’t she realize that is what I have done my whole life?! I refuse to do it now. My suggestion was duct tape, but she didn’t seem to appreciate that.

There is a part of me (by the way, who is in charge much of the time) that really does not take this seriously. When you have a life-threatening illness for as long as I have and have moved through the state of acceptance to a state of transcendence, it is hard to take these circumstances too seriously; I would be way too serious, way too often. I had to give that up.

I feel like someone who is about to go on a beautiful journey and is excited about the adventure. Thinking about my place of departure is not really the point, when you are going on a “pilgrimage.” There is much I will appreciate to not have to deal with, like my in floor radiant heat, the physical discomfort I deal with on a daily basis and the enormous energy it takes to stay proactive, just to stay alive. When I think of my greatest grief, it is in leaving my children and grandchildren. As I open more to the belief that I will not truly be leaving them, what’s the point? It’s not like I can go skiing, swimming or riding anymore. After all, once we all make our transitions, we will be together again.

So I have the dubious distinction of being a member of a group of which I didn’t really want membership, but I am a member of a broader group, a group formed and expressed through LOVE, and I embrace that membership.

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. more...

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