Manipulation and chronic illness – how a trip to the osteopath screwed up my personal identity
I just got back from seeing a natural healer who practices cranialsacral and fascial manipulation, and is educated in osteopathic principles. And boy are my arms tired!
But seriously, my arms ARE kinda tired. As are my neck, hips, and everything in between…
I don’t believe there are coincidences, I believe everything happens for a reason. So when I was asked to work on a web site copy job for a local ad agency, I wasn’t really surprised that it happened to be for a natural healer, with whom I share some mutual acquaintances. And I wasn’t surprised by how naturally the writing flowed while I was working on the web site copy. Because it all just seemed like it was supposed to happen that way. It all made perfect sense. The next step was, of course, to go see her personally. How could I not? It’s like it was put right in front of me.
This energetic, passionate lady works out of her home, and of course it was a nice home. In the nice part of town. One of her little dogs greeted me and immediately enlisted me in some belly scratching.
Once I got in to see her, we went over my medical history, as well as talking about things that have happened in my life that could have an impact on my health. Like medical events, trauma, or other emotional experiences. Then she had me stand in front of her so she could look at how I stand. The first thing she told me was that my liver was over-taxed. Just based on how I was standing (leaning towards the left, away from the liver).
Then I lay down on her table and she proceeded to get to work. She said my liver and kidneys are congested and that the fascia surrounding my entire belly cavity was so tense and tight that it was pulling all my organs towards the back of my body. Where everything was getting smooshed.
We talked about trauma – she believes I’ve had PTSD for a very long time, and the death of my mom in 2012 was just one big event that basically pushed my body over the edge, so to speak.
I don’t really know what trauma I experienced so long ago, but she isn’t the first person to suggest this and well, it wouldn’t surprise me. When you are very young, it’s possible that something we view as not very important as an adult, can be really, really impactful and meaningful. Maybe the adult me would be like, oh, that’s no big deal! But 3 year old me might have had a different experience. But – I can’t remember anything specific. My mom isn’t here for me to ask – and something tells me that even if she were, she wouldn’t tell me what it was. She just didn’t talk much about the past.
So the healer commented multiple times about how tense my whole body is. She worked to release the tension and to relax my body. I started to feel more relaxed but I had a really weird thought – if I let go of all this tension, I won’t really be ME anymore. Parts of me might get lost! Because I feel like I literally and figuratively hold myself together with all this tension. Without it, I might fall apart.
I told this to the healer. She thought it was interesting. And wouldn’t it be neat to explore that, she said, and to maybe let the “real me” out from under all the tension. Maybe that’s something I could explore, she suggested. Maybe.
I don’t know. That’s certainly a more positive way of looking at the experience, rather than OH MY GOD I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEFINE MYSELF WITHOUT MY ANXIETY AND TENSION. But if I let go of it all, what will be left in its place? A bowl of lime jello? A jellyfish? A cookie-loving amoeba?
What if those of us who suffer from chronic conditions use those conditions as ways to define ourselves. What if it becomes so much a part of who we are, that we don’t know how to define ourselves without it. What if I’m not the only one who does this.
What if there are hundreds, or thousands, or millions of people that hang onto these conditions because they – their bodies and their minds – don’t know any other way of being.
These are rhetorical questions, because I know this happens all the time. And not just with chronic health conditions – we hold onto negative thoughts, past trauma, criticism, self-doubt… you name it. We hold onto things because it’s all we know. It’s too bad, isn’t it.
I wonder if we can all manage to let go. Wouldn’t THAT be interesting.