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There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

Throughout this journey of chronic illness, I rarely speak of the nearly unbearable grief I’ve experienced, as my body slowly failed over many years, and progressed rapidly over the last decade. I almost exclusively describe the gifts I’ve received by facing the challenges with determination and courage, not so much, the heartbreak.

My children were three and nine when the symptoms began. I remember driving my son to elementary school and praying that I would be able to meet his and his sister’s needs through high school, while my children were completely dependent on me (and I, probably, on them). Who would drive them to school, accompany them to soccer games, dance performances, and Mardi Gras parades? Who would talk to the teachers when they had conferences in school or problems with their friends? How would I be able to go to therapy three times a week to heal myself emotionally to better meet their growing needs? My life had become totally unpredictable and everything was on the table for catastrophic change.

When the first symptom began during the late 80s, my first thought was for my children. What kind of legacy would this leave  them? The terror I felt about not living up to my greatest responsibility and privilege was more than I could bear, or so I thought at the time. I’m sure the specter of desperation followed me and shaded every choice I made during my 40s and 50s. Not all of my choices were well thought out and generous. After all, I was losing my physical strength that had carried me through many challenges – if I could count on anything, I could count on my body – and my body had been the vehicle for much reliability and joy in my life.

I began running road races with my daughter when she was three during the heat of New Orleans summers, I swam laps for miles and miles to restore some semblance of well-being and hope for the future. I believed if I could heal, it would be in the water. This does not describe the radical lifestyle changes I made or trips to India for stem cell treatment and many other alternative treatments.

When I see the look of shock and despair on people’s faces when they meet me, see my profound physical limitations, or hear my story, my common line is, “My life is not a tragedy.” Well, it isn’t, but it has been marked with many tears, regrets, and feelings of despair along the way.

My hospice workers tell me I am a legend around their office, my friends tell me I am a hero. Well, I’m here to tell you I have made desperate choices in my life that have deleteriously affected my children, I have lived with a great deal of fear, depression, and cowardice. I’ve cried an ocean of tears. No one facing catastrophic illness or injury should ever feel reticent about expressing their grief. It is through the cracks where the light gets in.

I have grown through this illness. I probably have grown some heroism. I am also human with human frailties. Human nature is an incredible thing. If I can do this, anybody can do this. About that, I have no doubt.

“When you look long enough into the abyss, the abyss looks into you.” Nietzsche

SpeechlessRecently, a caregiver asked me with a slightly horrified tone, “What if you can no longer speak?” Actually, there are times now, during the day when I cannot speak, like when I am on the stationary bike, when I am on the stander and late afternoon when speaking in groups, of which I am in ten per month. This particular disability has been happening gradually for the last four years, especially since I returned to high-altitude and It has become much more pronounced in the last six months.

I have learned to accommodate yet another disability, dysarthria– motor speech disorder caused by muscle weakness with neurological illness. I have learned that if I pause or whisper for a few sentences, I can often get my breath back and project a little more to make myself heard. Summer and the heat it brings exacerbates this symptom.

The potential for having this disability has been obvious to others, but being unable to speak and the ramifications had never occurred to me. I tend to not project into the future imagining what abilities I might lose next. This has probably been an effective strategy for lessening what is called “anticipatory dread” and, therefore, decreasing unnecessary emotional suffering. This represents another way my personality has evolved. I used to be accused of seeing the cup as half empty, as opposed to half full. Ironic that with this terminal neurodegenerative disease I’ve become more optimistic.

Actually, my first thought upon hearing this question was of recently having seen The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a film about a man with “locked in syndrome” who, after sustaining a severe stroke, could not communicate after having been a robust communicator all his life. Somehow, I trust I would get my point across, even if I need to blink my eyes three times as he did. Sometimes I practice that while laughing about the irony with my caregivers. Fortunately, I don’t take this ordeal very serious much of the time. I don’t tend to marinate in fears of the future, at least not these types of fears.

What I have learned in accepting this “curriculum” is that if I become unable to speak, there is a greater teaching in the symptom. I have no doubt that my focus would need to go beyond the cortically-based area of the left brain where speech arises, exploring areas much deeper than the fears of becoming speechless. I bow to this anomaly and will accept it as my next teacher.

In my humble opinion, nothing is arbitrary when I have accepted such a rigorous path and it becomes more clear that I have, in fact, entered the Holy ground.


“We each have distinct karma and basic elemental natures that shape our unique journey in this one, single lifetime towards that loving intention. But I think this is what we are about–to embody as much love from Source as possible while here with the cards we’re dealt.” -Kathryn Brady

unknownDuring a concert at my home I casually mentioned anger at my former husband for leaving our relationship of eleven years. The male musicians exclaimed in unison and perfect harmony, “I’m angry at him, too!” It was obvious that they didn’t even know David and the room broke out into laughter. The spontaneity of the solidarity surprised and comforted me.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. These musicians who had volunteered their time for a private concert on my behalf have known their share of heart breaks. The energy in the room was electric with empathy and love. The moment made me reflect upon that relationship, the relationship which would be my last partnership, with my last companion for this lifetime. It wasn’t that I was so sad to see him go, but more that I was so sad to let our life go.

It was in that relationship where I finally was able to realize some of the adventures I had always sought in previous relationships. David helped me to hold the container for a life full of adventures, like camping, horseback riding, long road trips and things I had never thought I would be able to experience. Now that I live alone in the wilderness, knowing many other powerful wilderness women, I wonder where that insecurity could possibly have come from. After all, I had ridden my own motorcycle to Key West, jumped off mountains in California on a zip line and learned to jump horses in my 50s.

Granted, David was a warrior in the outdoors. After all, he had been a geophysicist, a public school teacher and was able to operate any heavy machinery needed. He taught me how to hook up, load a horse and pull a horse trailer by myself. I had no reluctance to do so, in fact, I was excited to add this to my repertoire. In our life together, this skill was required.

David could fix anything. And when we connected, many of my things were broken and needed to be fixed; and fix them he did. David appreciated being helpful. What was strong and unbroken, however, was my heart and spirit having just spent three years recovering from a relationship so devastating that it forced me to reflect on the quality of all previous relationships. To do so, I had chosen to extricate myself from romantic relationships in order to focus on the most important relationship, the relationship to Self.

Right from the beginning of our relationship, I was upfront with David about the concerns around my physical body. Along with many of my material items needing to be fixed, I needed a breast biopsy and abdominal surgery for fibroid tumors. Ever since being a young child, I tended to somaticize emotional issues. This gave me much material to address psychologically and many physical issues to deal with medically.

David really tried to be helpful around my physical vulnerabilities, but he was much more capable around the mechanical items. His caring was never an issue, his ability to express that caring was considerably limited. In my opinion, and realize that I am not the most objective reporter, when partners in his life were physically and emotionally vulnerable, David left.

I’m not sure whether my children so vehemently disliked my former husband, because they perceived that he left me when I most needed him, or because he never really was able to connect with them on an emotional level. Perhaps both are true. In the spirit of not tossing the baby out with the bath water, I would like to honestly visit what this relationship was to me.

I met David at the Gurdgieff school during the early 90s when I was entering this work. We were with our respective spouses and I cannot say there was any connection between us beyond the surface level. Fast forward five or six years and two divorces, when he brought an at risk student to the mental health clinic where I was employed. Still, no connection beyond colleagues with the intention to save an adolescent from imploding. A few years later we connected at a play in our neighboring community. At this point he asked me to dinner and a movie. We were slow to connect, but there was something gentle and deep about him.

As I previously mentioned, I had just spent three years consciously turning inward for the first time in my life, forging a relationship with my deepest Self, something I had resisted until, as Anaïs Nin wrote, “…the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I wasn’t sure about this new person, but I was encouraged vehemently by others whom I trusted, so I continued to explore this connection.

I never really knew myself until I was nearly fifty, so how could I know what was deeply fulfilling in a significant relationship? I would suspect that most people know themselves better than I did. I was a slow learner, after all, my first husband was a Republican who told me the Holocaust never happened. How well could I really have known myself then? My second husband and I shared a deep love and grew a lot together, but he wasn’t wild about being outdoors. He would play racquetball, occasionally, serving with his left hand, which was accommodating, but his idea of camping was staying in the Holiday Inn. With both of these men I had my children for which I am tremendously grateful. And I had a beautiful stepdaughter who initiated me into the teenage years. They all enriched my life tremendously.

When I connected with him, David lived on a peninsula in a pristine Louisiana cypress swamp draped with Spanish moss in a house he built with no running water. Along with our outdoors activities we soon realized we both shared a deep love for horses. We began going on weekend field trips to visit different farms. We began riding and eventually purchased a horse for each of us. When the boarding expense became too great, we purchased a small horse farm in the neighboring village. When the commute became too difficult, for example, when a horse’s life was in danger and required instant attention from us and a veterinarian, we decided to move to a larger farm where we could live on the premises.

9We began boarding other people’s horses and developed a horse community. At this point in my life, surrounded by many animals and like minded people, riding and showing, practicing psychotherapy, driving weekly to sing in my interracial gospel choir in New Orleans, I was living my dream. Concurrently, I was being chased by an unknown specter, a progressive life-threatening degenerative illness. The weakness was progressing steadily as I tried to enjoy every minute I was afforded.

In all fairness, this was not a minor vulnerability. David had to retrieve me off the floor many times and fix many fences that I drove the tractor into when losing coordination. It was not a pretty sight and certainly not for the faint of heart. David was extremely strong, but this strength manifested on a physical level and what was being stretched was on the emotional level.

The majority of marriages with a degenerative, life-threatening illness end in divorce, especially if the husband is the caregiver. Regardless of why this is, it just is. In our situation, we waited too long to ask for help. We could not foresee the level of disability I would incur, not in our wildest dreams. And I was so focused on healing physically, that the alternative was not even an option for either of us. When we were married in 2004, I was already limping. My default feeling has always tended to be fear versus anger. I was terrified. I desperately wanted David to fix this situation and David thought that if he loved me enough, I would heal physically.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have realized that there was a greater healing possible. The wisdom I have accrued from finding the courage to face this challenge head-on can be summarized in this quote I wrote in my book:

“When we talk about healing, what does this mean in its greatest sense? Does it mean the body heals? Does it mean that we feel better? What I have learned in my journey, is that true healing means bringing oneself to wholeness, understanding the totality of our existence; finding love from the inside out.”

From this older and wiser vantage point, it is clear that I needed to do this curriculum on my own. I do not believe a curricula this demanding could at all be arbitrary. I have come to feel in my cells that this is for my highest evolution and for the evolution of those around me.

So, to set the record straight, we all have done the best we could. This invisible taskmaster has demanded it all from each one of us, including and especially my children who were unaware of my unspeakable demand during that accelerated time and forgiveness from that time is 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

“There is no path to love. Love is the path.” –Casey Miller Atre (derived from Mahatma Gandhi)

220px-Minotauros_Myron_NAMA_1664_n1The stories I’ve been hearing lately from others living with the constellation called progressive multiple sclerosis and the people who love them, are nearly unimaginable. I almost feel negligent for complaining in comparison. Really. One friend, after having received steroids in an attempt to remediate the effects of an exacerbation, was left with necrotic hip and shoulder joints. This means he is living with the equivalent of four constant joint fractures every moment of his life. Another friend, after fracturing her femur, had to have her tendons surgically severed in order to allow for daily functioning and care. Her beloved husband, her primary caregiver, is caring so deeply for his wife, the mother of his children. From the outside looking in, it is a sacred practice of love and devotion; and from the inside out seemingly pushing him beyond his boundaries.

Really, this illness knows no bounds. To me, it is almost incomprehensible. The prospect of watching one’s body decline, one function after another, has been beyond what my mind can hold.

And it is beyond my mind where I have come to accept these circumstances and be able to live with them. What keeps occurring to me, from beyond my mind, is that we are being prepared. I don’t know how I know this, but I know this. No question. I also know that I don’t know what we are being prepared for, but we are without a doubt.

In Greek mythology, the Minotaur is the monster, half bull and half human, who dwelt at the center of the labyrinth. The Minotaur, in my Story, can be represented by MS. The labyrinth can be understood as the Spiritual Path. This is where the title of my blog comes from. Actually, some people refer to MS as their MonSter. The Minotaur represents a distortion of authenticity of Spirit perpetrated by the ego. This projection needs to be fed through continual distortions of Truth or addictive behaviors. The Minotaur becomes transformed, or liberated, through honest reflection, or finally facing one’s core limitations.

Many people feel victimized by whatever curriculum is before them, whether it be illness, caring for someone with an illness, or other challenges, whether they are physical, emotional, financial, etc. that take them to the edge of their limitations. Feeling victimized by the illness perpetuates feelings of powerlessness.

Often I feel like the heroine of my Sacred Journey through the labyrinth, by encountering my personal Minotaur. It can be said that this monster in the center of my mandala represents a battle with my own willfulness, or my bullheadedness. This encounter is as different for everyone as the symptoms of the illness is different. Each person’s struggle is their battle with some aspect of their ego, a significant block to living authentically in deep connection with Spirit, in Love. My willfulness has been a huge hindrance keeping me from surrendering deeply to the What Is. And it is in living with what is, where true joy lives.

Who wouldn’t want to live in joy? What is one willing to give up in order to live in this state of love, this state of oneness? I believe the Minotaur is the Guide who will return us to this state, if our soul is willing. Of course, our ego is not willing, the ego is complicit in the limitation whose sole purpose is keeping oneself in the illusion of safety.

I also believe, for myself, I had been given many opportunities to surrender, but was unable to comply, for whatever reason, during an earlier time of development. Agreeing to this PhD level curriculum is directly related to my maturation which has brought willingness and courage.

I have empathy for those who don’t yet know that we are being prepared. I didn’t know in the past and it was excruciating. Knowing is merely a process of being able to briefly turn aside from the suffering and allow oneself to See. That’s what it took for me. I must’ve prepared the foundation for this Knowing to take root.

One’s Sacred journey through the labyrinth, I believe, is as arduous and excruciating as one needs it to be in order to finally surrender. Many people do not undertake this Journey until they face their death. In my opinion, whatever it takes to finally have the resources to face this Sacred encounter. Each journey is perfect for the makeup of the individual. Judging or comparing one’s design is merely resistance and creates more suffering.

Many people appear incredulous that I could actually have gratitude for having the most progressive form of such a dreaded disease as multiple sclerosis. Once I have lived in Love, I would do whatever it takes to be in that state. I suspect that with the guidance of the Minotaur, my bullheadedness has morphed into healthy determination, for which I have much gratitude.

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”-Bob Marley

119-1911_IMGBy the time I entered Dr. Klinghardt’s office, I was already dependent on a wheelchair. Dr. Klinghardt had the dubious distinction of receiving the most intransigent cases of lyme disease that had failed to improve with other doctors and many had morphed into progressive degenerative illnesses. In one of his lectures, I remember hearing him say he would rather treat acute cases than illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. In retrospect, I can understand why. Dr. K is a world renowned M.D. PhD with offices in the US and Europe.

My work with Dr. Klinghardt began with working to bring my immune system into balance by clearing opportunistic infections and toxins that had taken over my body. I followed nearly every protocol he recommended, processing my own urine that had been filtered twice and then injected into my body, I changed my diet, learned about my family constellation and allowed multiple injections throughout all of the scars on my body in an attempt to open energetic pathways. One auspicious day, I remember Dr. Klinghardt asking me the question, “When you were a teenager did you incur a head injury that rendered you unconscious, like falling off a horse?” I was shocked by the question, because my answer was, unequivocally, “Yes!”

When I was preteen, I was riding my trainer’s horse in a horse show. All I remember is sitting in the saddle, nervously, and the ground coming up and hitting me. The next thing I remember is being in the truck on the way back home. There is no memory of what transpired between those memories. There was no recollection of being brought into the center of the ring during the class, my clothing being loosened or any other reports I later heard. There is no memory of his horse being trailered or me climbing into the truck. I only remember looking at my legs sitting in the truck upon our return. Our doctor made a house call and acknowledged a probable concussion, but no treatment was prescribed. We didn’t wear helmets those days.

How could Dr. Klinghardt have possibly known that I had a head injury? How did he know a horse was involved?

With the revelations of the latest research regarding head injuries in football and the long-term neurological illnesses being incurred, I couldn’t help but consider my history. Could one concussion effect my body to this degree? Did this accident seal my fate? Are we that fragile as humaings?

It was after I returned to a life with horses that the symptoms began to accelerate considerably. I had not been deterred out of fear. After all, I could always trust my body. So in my 50s I learned to jump horses. For having much fear in my life, it did not show up in physical activities. Could reconnecting with horses been a trigger for the symptoms?

Many of these questions are unknowable, especially on a medical level. I believe that an accelerated path such as what I have undertaken, cannot just be one fluky incident. I am not a victim in a cruel, arbitrary Universe. I have no doubt that this curriculum was required for me to evolve profoundly on a spiritual level. I know this to be true in my situation.

My daughter sustained a head injury in her 20s. When we went to see John of God in Brazil together as I began to limp an amazing thing happened. After a treatment of psychic surgery from Joao, we had been instructed to return to the casita where we slept for 24 hours straight. When we both awakened, her brow had swelled for no apparent reason. She had had a sunburn, but that would not explain her enlarged brow. She acknowledged that the only time she had experienced this was after her head injury. I believe that Casey had a profound healing that day in Brazil.

There was a reason that this illness was not cleared during my two week visit with John of God. At the time I believed that I had failed, but over time I have come to realize that healing is not black-and-white, that there is a bigger picture at work here which is part of a loving Universe and part of the Great Mystery. As I have matured spiritually, my gratitude for how this Mystery has shaped and guided my life has grown.

Horses have been instrumental in bringing much guidance into my life, which has, in turn, brought much joy and evolution to my Soul.

“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.”–Thich Nhat Hanh

HealingMandala.jpg.w300h300When we talk about healing, what does this mean in its greatest sense? Does it mean the body heals? Does it mean that we feel better? What I have learned in my journey, is that true healing means bringing oneself to wholeness, understanding the totality of our existence; finding love from the inside out.

In my particular situation, I needed to understand that I was not my body. My body is, however, a vehicle to understand the totality of my soul. This can be mind-boggling, because we are not our minds either. The purpose of our physical incarnation is to have experiences and evolve. This in turn will grow and enrich our souls.

Many people who are born at this time, have chosen to enter into a challenging time in history, to be a helper. A light worker can be identified by taking on challenging circumstances and following it through to completion, or transformation.

In order to transform suffering, one has to enter the energy form of the suffering; the greatest healing happens from within the same vibrational frequency. Sometimes the healing manifests within the body, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the heart comes to completion and the body dies. Some of the most profound healings happen when people face their mortality. To limit the concept of healing to the physical body is reductive. Some of the deepest healings I’ve witnessed were when people were working with life-threatening illnesses that were degenerative and irreversible.

Some people believe that certain souls choose to take on significant challenges in order to move themselves and their soul families forward in their evolutionary trajectory. If this sort of curriculum is consciously chosen by the higher self and physical healing is not a part of the program,   and acceptance and joy can be attained, the transformational value is immeasurable.

There are many who believe in the orthodoxy of the “law of attraction.” This is a valid truth, but one needs to consider that sometimes the soul attracts what is in the individual’s highest good, not necessarily what the ego wants. My ego would never have chosen this curriculum. But, in retrospect, and in view of the bigger picture prospective, I acknowledge my courage and growth and the evolution of those my life has touched.

Healing is a complex, mysterious and Sacred Journey. In expanding one’s understanding of true healing, our soul’s capacity for love and empathy expands. And, according to me, my fellow travelers and the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

“Having progressive MS isn’t enough, you have to have THAT, too.”–Sage Brown

12997006-charleston-sc-plantation-live-oak-trees-spanish-moss-azalea-flowers-blooming-spring-bloomsSage is one of my closest friends here in the community. My friends don’t just spout superficial pleasantries to merely make me feel better, they go right where I am and feel WITH me. That’s just the way it is here in Crestone, in this community of compassionate souls.

People never die of multiple sclerosis; they die from the complications associated with multiple sclerosis. Secondary infections like pneumonia are a major culprit. Hell, Christopher Reeves died from bedsores that became septic. My decubitus has cleared since I began riding my stationary bike a few times a week. You have to die from something, right? But really, guys, a hemorrhoid?!

Everybody has got their issue and many of them are where the sun don’t shine. Why is it that so many people have trouble loving their bodies and for many, it is the southernmost regions? Is it our cultural toilet training methods? Is it just where our self–hatred is housed?

There is an expression, “God is the wound.” I have seen so many people dislike their bodies until they begin to fail. Mine began to fail while living in the deep South. This is geographical, not biological. I began a rigorous program of reclaiming and reconnecting with every part of my body. It was like a wave of love and care that continues to this day. Is that part of the design? Does one’s body have to scream to get our attention?

North, South, East or West, Love is what it’s all about to me. Whether the entry point is through nature, a Beloved or THAT, as far as I’m concerned, whatever it takes.

Having met David many years earlier in a Gurdjieff school where I briefly participated, I was surprised when he brought an “at risk” adolescent for treatment at the mental health clinic where I was employed. We developed a mutual mission to keep this child alive, with the hope that she would eventually thrive. When we reconnected at a play in Abita Springs, I felt both a connection and an aversion, which confused me.

Around this time, I was preparing for another personal retreat in New Mexico to do breath work. I had completed the fundamental healing with “Mother;” I had become comfortable with my internal feminine and, as always, I was open to whatever next piece my healing would reveal. During my breath work session, I was transported to Egypt for a sacred healing process where I was lying on a table. As with many significant breath work sessions, I can recall it today in great detail. The healer was a cat walking around my body and spreading healing. This scene reflected a certain initiation ritual which would allow me to deepen my spiritual process. After the session, I completed artwork and remained contemplative.

The following day I had an astrology reading schedule with a local astrologer. The session affirmed the trajectory of my healing process. I felt an unusually strong connection with the astrologer; in fact, the session ran longer than most of her sessions. After returning to Arroyo Seco, the astrologer stayed in my mind. I decided to ask her to join me for tea and I brought her flowers. I didn’t completely understand what was happening to me internally, but I felt giddy and somewhat undone. While reflecting on my visit and my breath work session, it occurred to me that the astrologer’s name was Kat. Was there some significance to “being initiated by a cat?” I was filled with a mixture of curiosity, excitement, and terror. I considered what a decision like this would have on my life. I impulsively called David long-distance, which injected energy into that relationship. I realized that i knew that I was entering this relationship with David out of fear, but I could feel comfort that it was at least conventional. I remember telling David about this encounter and I shared my suspicion that an encounter with Kat would bring deep healing on the feminine level. He truly empathized, but he personally preferred for it not to become actualized. As it was, I stayed with David and the symptoms gradually progressed over the next eleven years. It is likely that the illness that was in remission would have exacerbated either way, I just can’t know that answer from this vantage point .

Two decades later, I have few regrets for the decisions I have made. As I sit in my solitary meditative space, I look with awe at the profound healing in my life. I’m remembering my hypothesis, that this illness can be an opportunity to heal the deepest wound for a woman, disconnection from the Feminine. While watching a documentary regarding Edie Windsor and her revolutionary fight for marriage equality, I learned that her partner had lived with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis until 2008 when she succumbed to the illness. When I watched Thea, I was struck by how unusual it was to see another woman so profoundly disabled, yet as joyful as me. I was curious about Thea’s early mothering and it was revealed that her mother had died when she was an infant. Coincidence?

I am not at all concluding that one’s sexual preference leads to deeper healing; I need to be clear about that. I also believe that masculine/feminine energy is not necessarily gender-based, however in my situation my healing had to come through women. I can see a deep level of healing that has occurred through the love and care of my female caregivers. I have developed an ease with them and with my body that I never could have imagined possible. There was a level of self-hatred that I lived with on the level of the body that is no longer there. It is less important to me how the self-hatred gets cleared, but that it gets replaced with volumes of self-love.

Thank you for entering into this Journey with me and witnessing the ups and downs, the losses and wins, of an ordinary soul having an extraordinary human existence.