Getting Sick to Get Healthy
It may be hard for some to understand, but getting sick has probably been the best thing that has have ever happened to me. I’m not talking about the annoying cold or messy episode of diarrhea varieties of sickness, which are more of a nuisance than anything else. Rather, I’m about the conditions that have created such a tremendous amount of physical and emotional damage that they have forced me into episodes of enlightenment spiritually bound to the development of new and radical perspectives that would better allow me to overcome my self-destructive tendencies and enter a new echelon of self-awareness and acceptance.
Just so we are clear, my unique circumstances are an affinity for mood altering substances and an acute sensitivity to gluten.
My obsession with drink and drug hit first. What I believe to be a disease of mind, body and spirit, alcoholism and drug addiction is capable of corroding every last moral thread strung through an individual’s existence. Once they took hold, I would do anything and everything in order to get my fix. I would lie, cheat and steal from every John, Jane and Jack in order to get me to through to the next high. Worse still, I would manipulate and deceive those closest to me in the quest for oblivion. Once the chemicals were removed from my system, somewhat begrudgingly I might add, I embraced the desire to escape the abyss of addiction and I was, “rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which…[I]…had not even dreamed.” Getting there wasn’t easy though and required excruciating introspection, pride-busting humility and the shameful acceptance of help from others and a Power far beyond my own comprehension. However, I made it through and continue to live in a physical, emotional and spiritual place where I can be of better service to my fellows, my community and myself.
Years later, once the desire to consume copious amounts of toxic substances had passed, a sensitivity to gluten decided to manifest and forced me into another personal renaissance. Over the coarse of a few years, I struggled with seemingly incurable stomach cramps and was stuck on the agonizing carousel of severe constipation and diarrhea. I went to doctors, kept food journals and self-medicated with every variety of supplement, exercise and dietary modification imaginable, within the context of the “accepted” nutritional wisdom, of course (Food Pyramid, anyone?), in an attempt to experience even the slightest bit of relief. Unfortunately, although my symptoms were sometimes eased, the pain and awkward bowels would always return and in greater force and capacity. It wasn’t until I was able to put aside all the conventional dietary wisdom we are spoon fed from birth and open myself to an idea that existed on the fringes of acceptable nutrition that I was able to obtain any significant amount of relief.
Honestly, who would have thought five years ago that our beloved wheat could be so toxic?
However, once relief was had there was no turning back. I was a new man, again, and I was not going to let the occasional sandwich, pizza or bowl of oatmeal take this newfound freedom.
It only occurred to me recently how eerily similar the process of overcoming addiction and abandoning my misguided trust in federal dietary recommendations were in their effect upon my physical and spiritual wellbeing. Both required me to recognize that something wasn’t right and what I was doing wasn’t making the situation any better. Both required a new level of awareness, acceptance and willingness to go against all that I knew so that I could find a better, more healthful way to live. Both have allowed me to grow physically, mentally and spiritually beyond my greatest desire and put me in a better position to be of service to my fellows. Although both processes were extremely painful and required tremendous amount of work to overcome, I am much happier and healthier as a result and would not go back to that way of living if I could.
Getting sick is no fun, but when we can turn the experience to good account and further develop our understanding of what it means to be happy and free, it may be the perfect avenue for growth in the quest for lasting health and wellness.