Today is my “shingleversary”. Today it is one year since I was diagnosed with shingles, a virus which created little angry pink blisters down the left hand side of my body.
I won’t dwell on the pain or how ill I felt. What I would like to share with you is the gratitude and love I have for my body and the undoubted connection between body and mind.
Shingles was a blessing and it revealed itself to me to protect me from myself and give me the time I needed to heal. I was deeply unhappy and exhausted. Giving out all my energy to certain individuals and not getting any back – my energy had depleted rapidly. I was on the edge of something sinister, I felt desperate and in despair.
In order to find the answers I needed I met with a wonderful therapist. It wasn’t long before I realised that it was the career I had chosen which was to blame. When the realisation hit me I sobbed. I felt heartbroken and so disappointed. I knew I had to walk away. That was the Thursday.
“Knowing when to walk away, is wisdom”
By the following Monday a rash had appeared. It was intimidating and I was instantly afraid. I’ll always remember the doctor saying to me: “oh I wouldn’t worry if that was on my big toe!”. Not feeling entirely convinced I went back to the doctor the following day. It was shingles.
Shingles is a virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. It then remains dormant in your body and at anytime can be reactivated. Shingles is known to be caused by stress. I believe my body activated the virus to provide me with the time I needed to heal. Shingles was my ‘medicine’.
Over the next month as I began to heal, I decided that I had to make a significant change in my life. When I returned to work I resigned.
“Being able to, is courage”
And yet I was still in pain. Every morning on my walk to the work my side, which had provided a podium for the blisters, fired red-hot flashes across my body. It was like a warning – “don’t go back there”. At times it felt as though there was a giant magnet somewhere in the universe pulling me back to the train station. I ignored it.
I remember feeling very unwell again and regularly scanning my body, hoping for a cluster of blisters to return, anticipating that they would somehow save me. They didn’t. I hadn’t learnt my lesson, but my body wasn’t going to put itself through it all over again. I was too stubborn, too disciplined, too proud to not fulfill my duties in my professional life, to respectful of my colleagues and peers. I wanted to say goodbye my way.
“Walking away with your head held high is dignity”
And then as all things do, it came to an end and I was free. My new beginnings were finally here, but the painful ending had been a long one.
In “why people don’t heal and how they can” Myss writes: “but pain is also a teacher, a messenger directing us to pay attention to our bodies or to move away from behaviour and situations in which we are weak to those in which we practice integrity and strength” (p39-40).
Shingles was my teacher which enabled me to reconnect to my consciousness, my body, mind and spirit. It also gave me the opportunity to make amends with my intuition. As spiritual beings intuition is our true guide. But in this world, many of us only listen to our minds and no longer honour our hearts, ignoring the soul. I had forgotten who I was, my soul was malnourished, my brain was full of noise, my heart rarely lifted, the butterflies that should have danced in my tummy were yet to emerge from their crysalis.
One year on I have a vibrant team of butterflies who flutter and gently lift my heart. It’s the same group of butterflies that dance on my skin, creating a soft trail of goosebumps when a moment of poignancy makes itself known. Making me feel alive and present.
I still have to tell my brain to calm down at times, but it continues to be on the losing side when it comes up against my heart. My intuition and I still have a long way to go, but already I know that it is the start of a beautiful relationship, an adventure of this lifetime.
It is my intuition that led me on the path to discover my passion and respect for hypnotherapy, holistic therapies and spirituality. It has opened my eyes to the energy around me, enabled me to listen to my thoughts and appreciate the impact they have on my body.
If my body aches now or I feel a pain I ask myself why is it there, if it could give me a message what would it say? The majority of the time I sense that it is asking me to slow down. So I do.
One year on and I have never felt so happy as I do in my own skin. I understand myself and others in ways I could have never foreseen. I have met wonderful people who continue to guide me and create a life that brings me more joy than I could have ever imagined. I have the energy to give love and receive it willingly but most importantly I trust myself.
I regret nothing, because at the time it was exactly what I wanted and what I needed. I am grateful for the experiences I have encountered, both happy and sad, they are precious. The chapters in our lives are like a wonderful organic compost, they enable us to grow, having taken what we need from the soil we can become the best version of ourselves, naturally evolving as our roots get stronger and stronger.
With that in mind, have faith in your past, it is setting you up for something truly wonderful if you lead your life with an open mind and an open heart.
To end I’ll share the wisdom of Steve Jobs, one of my favourite quotes:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future.”
“Why people don’t heal and how they can” Caroline Myss (1997)