The conversations I have with women—clients, friends, and healers—illuminate the commonalities we share in our healing processes. If you’re a return reader you know I share my personal process at times, a process which I know has no end. I will always be healing, evolving, transforming. This is true for anyone on a healing path. It’s one of a handful of universal healing principles I’m realizing through my process and my work.
Recently some uncomfortable (and old) symptoms returned to my body and reminded me of this truth once again. I am always in process. A conversation with my homeopath about these symptoms (that I felt *shouldn’t* be returning) reminded me of another important healing principle:
Our unresolved or suppressed symptoms will always return in some form for healthy resolution. The organism seeks the fullness of its expression.
That is, our symptoms (a.k.a. messengers that communicate to us what our organism in all her wholeness needs) are here for a reason. They are, indeed, here FOR us. Please let that sink in. Because if, like me, you spent years or decades feeling uncomfortable inside of your Being due to uncomfortable symptoms, I know it can be challenging to really feel into this truth.
But I’ve observed it over and over again: Symptoms that are repeatedly suppressed or ignored with pharmaceuticals, bypassing, numbing (and more) may get quiet for a time, but never for long. And when they return, they may show up in a different way and different place, intensifying their attempt to be heard.
It’s Like This…
The rash that’s silenced with steroid cream comes back tenfold when the suppressive medication stops. And in many cases, when our largest detox organ is suppressed, other detox organs take the hit. The lungs and digestive system have to express all that the skin is unable to do on steroids.
The sadness that’s drenched in alcohol or swallowed with food intensifies with each binge. And in many cases, physical symptoms come to the surface that cannot be so easily ignored, like migraines, chronic back pain, or stomach aches.
The calling in our heart to pursue a dream, a passion, a purpose that’s been given no voice finds a voice in our anxiety, our physical pain, our ruminating thoughts.
The organism craves wholeness and gravitates toward it naturally when provided the opportunity to do so. Symptoms are her attempt to return to her natural state of wholeness. When we support the fullness of her expression, we promote the healthy resolution of our symptoms.
It’s easier to accept and honor this truth when we’re not deep in the pool of our pain or discomfort. I know the feeling of drowning in it. I know how out of control it can feel when our thoughts, emotions, and physiology aren’t doing what we expect or hope they do. And, yet, so much healing comes through being in and with the pain and discomfort of our symptoms, through allowing and empowering their full and healthy expression, and therefore resolution.
The Subtle Side of Suppression
The ways in which we suppress our Selves and our symptoms are not always obvious. As I work and play with my returning symptoms, here’s what I notice: Even as I allow my symptoms more and more, I still have some level of resistance to the discomfort that comes with them. Of course I do. We all do because we’re human, and we crave safety, AND discomfort often feels unsafe to our bodies.
I felt surprised by the subtlety of my resistance that, at different times, looked like thinking about my feelings rather than feeling them. Or it looked like trying to figure out the cause of the discomfort with my head. Or it looked like rushing to a homeopathic remedy to make them go away. (Even homeopathy is not the right choice in every moment).
The suppression I’m talking about today lives in all of these actions that are trying to avoid, fix, and silence the discomfort. Whether it’s a subconscious nervous system response to feeling unsafe or an ego-driven thought that tells us healing and safety can’t exist in the presence of symptoms or whether it’s something else, we must become aware of our subtle resistance so we can allow our symptoms their full expression.
It takes time, space, and other support people to be with our symptoms and allow them their voice. I do not mean to make this sound easy or without nuance. Not all symptoms are created equal, nor are all circumstances. This blog speaks to our individual resistance, but know the resistance of the collective impacts us as well. Allowing our symptoms ought not to be a privilege; rather, I believe it is a right we all have to honor our wholeness and her needs. Yet our patriarchal culture breeds suppression through its hustle, push, achieve at all costs individualism that gets in the way for far too many.
And even when it doesn’t, we must nurture support structures (including other folks doing this work) so the body and nervous system can feel safe. Cultivating safety through regular practice may be a first step. And then, when we have the capacity to do so, we can look our resistance in the eye and have a conversation with it.
My conversation with resistance reminded me of this healing principle:
Healing is the alchemizing and strengthening of wholeness WITH and THROUGH our symptoms and discomfort. It is not necessarily the total absence of discomfort or symptoms.
I asked myself these questions as I engaged with my resistance. I offer them to you know as a place to start meeting yours, too.
Where do I notice resistance in my body? In my words? In my actions?
What might happen if I fully allow my uncomfortable symptoms to just be with me for a time so they can speak?
If you feel safe in doing so, experiment with actually doing this.*Tip: set a timer so you have a definite end point if you’re just beginning this journey. Also consider having a trusted person close (either by phone or with you) if it feels at all like too much. If it does feel like too much, listen to that. This is a signal that you may need to create more safety in the body and nervous system first. In that case, reach out to me, another coach, a therapist, or other guide for resources and ideas on how to do this.
What might these symptoms be asking for or speaking to right now?