I’ve been clearing and organizing files on my laptop for the past few weeks. I found the following essay, written in 2004, 12 years after I first got sick.
“The symptom, even when counter productive, is meaningful, for it expresses in symbolic form what is longing for expression.“ ~ James Hollis, Middle Passage
When you’re cruising along, living your life, and a sudden onset of severe symptoms results in a diagnosis your doctor says you will have to live with the rest of your life, it changes you. How could it not?
Following are the questions I’ve asked over the last 12 years since my diagnosis.
- Which came first, the illness or the purpose?
- What purpose does illness serve in my life?
- What does my illness have to say?
- How does it impact my own sense of purpose?
- Does it “insist” upon a greater sense of purpose?
- What influences did my outlook and attitude before illness have on the possibility of discovering purpose after illness?
I didn’t ask these questions right away. I marched through denial first. With my diagnosis in hand I got on with my life… When my primary doctor suggested I see a gastroenterologist for follow up treatment, I said “no!”
I really thought I could heal myself, but my attempts to do it my way didn’t work. At the urging of my parents, I did finally seek the assistance of a gastroenterologist. He scheduled a colonoscopy so he could take a look inside and get an accurate read on my condition. I went in the morning of October 19, 1992, and when I called later that night he told my just how sick I was. He said something about heading for a train wreck, wondering how I was walking around… He strongly advised my admission to the hospital that night and I agreed.
It seems that by taking his advice, I finally surrendered and came into contact with my real power, the Self that is connected to purpose. My journal entry on day 1 of 10 shows me how quickly my response to my illness shifted.
10/20/92 – Journal Entry
I’m a stand for the medicine working with my body or my body working with the medicine (as in God?) to heal my colon.
I am powerful. I am awesome. The spirits and universe and I are in alignment.
I am not powerful as in forceful. I am powerful as in receiving love and giving love. I am love.
I successfully avoided a blood transfusion, gained at least 10 pounds and was back to eating and digesting foods like a “normal person.” The power of my purpose, focus and intention, and the resulting impact on my recovery was undeniable. But what is its purpose? If I’m connected to Divine order, and my body houses my soul, which is connected to infinite wisdom, does my illness serve some Divine purpose?
In June, 2011, after 6 years of joyous remission, I got salmonella poisoning. Once again, I was scared and in pain – and on that damn toilet for 4 days straight. Oh no! Was this it? Had the years of remission come to an end? Nope, just salmonella poisoning. (Who ever says that?)
I was already revisiting the purpose and gift questions. I guess I needed a push. Answer: THIS IS MY GIFT. This is what I have to share. And so it is.
What has your illness (or other life setback) whispered to you in the quieter moments?
Are you in a place where you are seeking clarity about what is next for you? Has your illness shown light in new directions, but the actual path is not clear? This is something I can work you on through coaching. To find out more just click here. I’d love to talk to you.