This week has been all about Recovery.
The word itself has so many connotations, depending on your experience and perspective, but here is what it means to me, and the path that this one idea is taking through my life so far…
The first recovery frontier I had to face was recovering from a lineage of sexual secrecy and shame. My Grandmother, Mother, and several of my family members (including me) were all teenage mothers. This was a source of bafflement for me, as each generation was simply perpetuating the mistakes of the one before, as though there was no learning, even from each others experiences. This made me angry, and sad, because it was a symptom of a major lack in honest communication, woman to woman. I guess the best way to describe it is to tell you that although we are obviously lusty women, there was no talking openly about sex, our part in it, how it worked, and what to expect as we became sexual beings – having a twofold outcome. half of us went out and blindly experimented with it, and the other half became sexually reclusive. The worst part is watching the cycle repeat itself because these women refuse to claim their responsibility – the need to openly communicate with their daughters about their experiences. If you were sexually curious, and active by age 14, what makes you think that your daughter (now 14) isn’t? (dare I pose the question for fear of the dreaded backlash) The truth hurts, but what hurts more is leaving a girl child you love, uneducated, uninformed. What lies at the root of this? Shame. The shame of having to tell your story, to share the experiences of pain born from your own lack of information. I have made a commitment to the sharing of shame, to stop the cycle, because if I had to watch my daughter suffer at the hands of misinformation I would be all to aware that the responsibility for her pain would be mine. Not the the guy who “took advantage of her” because she would not be vulnerable to that kind of attack if she were armed with information from a source she trusts. There is no way she could be conned if she had been shown the pitfalls of the con.
The second recovery frontier had to do with illness, with disease. This is a more esoteric concept, because I have come to believe that no Doctor knows better than you what is happening within your being. They don’t know what you’ve been eating, how much sleep you’ve been getting, what (if any) dreams you’re experiencing, what your fears and hopes are. They are not looking at you as a whole, instead they are focusing in on the symptom, and how to stop you feeling it. In other words the best they can do is suppress your symptoms, so you can get back to “work”. Suppression is NOT recovery, and from my own experience it leads to the symptom reappearing in your life. Like an ignored child, it just gets more and more frustrated, louder and louder. I started to realise that my symptoms were my bodies way of getting my attention, and the sooner I paid attention the less complicated the recovery. Most often my body wants better nutrition, more hydration, and quality rest. Simple solutions when you come to think of it. Far simpler than your health care professional would like you to know, they’d much rather you stayed on the medication cycle, because that really helps them make the payments on their new Merc and that holiday place in Llundudno. If you decided to listen to your body instead of listening to them, and simply got the 18 hours of sleep you are craving, how would they pay for their lifestyle? We are, after all, supporting them. The worst was listening to my Mother’s Oncologist tell us how although this was a new medication she was going to double the script because she was going away to Spain for two weeks, and that if my mother was suffering from the treatment, well, um, too bad! She’d get back and check the dose – and, well, if you’ve spat up all your teeth between now and then here is the number for a great orthodontist who specializes in that sort of thing (not cheep but, what other option do you have?). These institutions operate by preying on our fear, and it is Fear that is at the root of us not recovering a mastery of our physical bodies.
The third, and most recent area of recovery, is the recovery of my own spirit. I have had to admit a disease of my emotions – and just as the Dr. suppresses my physical symptoms and calls it medicine, my society seeks to suppress my feelings and calls it civilization, calls it polite. Teaches me from an early age to look up to the people who ignore their inner world in order to better function in the outside world. Big boys don’t cry, and Good girls, never get angry… Imprinting the message in all males to suppress their feelings of vulnerability and insecurity, and all females to suppress their feelings of frustration and rage. At the root of our inability to express our spirituality lies this suppression. We are further separated from our own spirit, by the merchants of “spirit” – the religious institutions who, like the medical institutions prey on our fear of death, prey upon our fear of being stigmatized, of being excluded, of being the outsider, of being damned to hell.
What I feel is as I recover the mastery of these aspects of myself, I am better able to function in the world. I respect myself first, I understand better what I need to do for my body to function well, and what I have to share for my mind to function well. Somehow by joining these forces, mind and body, my spirit has stared to wake up. Not that this is always a comfortable experience. Just one, I feel, that is overdue.