For the past week and a half, I've been feeling kind of blah. The retreat that I had planned last weekend didn't happen, my work has been a little slow, and try as I might, I haven't been able to release some feelings of stuckness and a general sense of not exactly awful, but not exactly happy either. And of course, I've also tried to figure it out, talk about it, do something to make myself feel better, all the while knowing that my resistance to and judgment about how I've been feeling has only been making it worse.
I've also noticed the return of an old, familiar discomfort which tends to start below my ribs and travel to my stomach. And while I haven't had the traditional medical tests to "prove" what it is, I've suspected it's my gallbladder or some unhappy organ in its vicinity. The thought that a physical illness might be causing my blahness has brought some relief and a little self-compassion, but then immediately on its heels have come the fears. I don't want to have my gallbladder removed! What if it's something worse? What if there's something horribly wrong? Then the strategies follow. Who should I go to see for this? What about acupuncture?
Last night I was particularly worried, but since it was Friday, there was little I could do right then except take the Chinese herbs that I'd just "refilled," go easy on the fat in my diet, and snuggle up with a heating pad, which was a perfect weekend plan since we were due for a cold rainy day today. Days like this give me permission to hold up inside and let myself feel whatever I feel. So despite wishing I felt emotionally and physically better, well enough to go to Chi Gong class, go for a walk, or work with one of the horses before the rain came, I let myself feel unwell and a little depressed, resistant, and worried about it. And I tried to stop judging myself for the way things were, the way I felt.
So, eager to indulge in my guilt-free, self-care plan for the day, I finished up my chores and while waiting for the horses' food to finish soaking, I sat down for a quick ten-minute meditation. Once my mind was quiet, I turned my attention, lightly and compassionately, in the direction of my gallbladder. And I waited. And then subtly, at first as a vague feeling and then as words, I heard it say, I'm sad. I'm sad. I'm sad. And I did my best just to listen and wait. It was so tempting to jump in and ask why, but as I waited and breathed the answer came. It had something to do with horses, with my relationship with horses, with my own horses in particular, and I felt so sad. So I waited, with the sadness, which then moved to my throat as a literal lump in my throat. And as I felt it and breathed and waited with it I then heard, How dare you! How dare you say that it's wrong! How dare you make it wrong! You asshole! You can't do that to me! How dare you!
A younger version of me, which was apparently hiding in my gallbladder, was still furious with my Dad, who dismissed my love and passion for horses as a childish whim and regularly referred to it as that ridiculous horse nonsense. My poor Dad had no reference for anything other than making money and earning respect at the country club. (Little girls who made magic, not only didn't make sense, but seemed to threaten him in some way).
In any case, there it was. And with it, my throat lost its lump, my gallbladder felt free and happy, and I felt light and open and ready to do something fun - for the first time in over a week! My breakfast didn't make my stomach hurt and lying in the bed with the heating pad held little charm.
The exciting thing about this friends, for me, is not so much that I "cured" my gallbladder - maybe I did and maybe I didn't - but that I feel good. I mean, really good. And to know that I can be, in what seems to be a fixless, week-and-a-half-long physical, emotional funk, and shift it in less than five minutes, is pretty damn exciting. But even more exciting is the power that I feel, the empowerment that I feel - not the kind of power that comes from my personal will, or from a magic cure or pill, but from a source of which I am intrinsically linked.
Above all, I wish that same power, that sense of real power, for you and for all of us. And that is why I share my story on this rainy Saturday - because I love you, because I love me, the hurt parts of me, and the hurt parts of you. We are all just doing our best and thanks to all that is good and true in this world, we have gallbladders that hurt, who are willing to help us heal and be whole, if only we are willing to listen.
Recommended reading: Love Your Disease: It's Keeping You Healthy, by John Harrison, M.D.
See also https://m3health.com/ - a website based on the book.