Teaching-360 blog

A blog about teaching, learning, and everything in between.

I Have Been Hiding

Aug 23, 2022 |

Lately, I grapple with the concept of boundaries as it relates to learning.

There is such value and importance of boundaries as we learn. Boundaries help us understand what we are doing, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. Without them, the choices we make can leave us open us to the dangerous aspects of the world. More importantly, learning without boundaries- or focus- prevents us from being able to exercise our truth from a place of centered wholeness.

Conversely, boundaries, when too rigidly adhered to, limit our access to possibilities we did not know were possible. When boundaries are held unnecessarily or too rigidle, expectations become unreliable. When the boundaries are blurred, the actions we take, transform from choices to reactions. Living in reaction, by its very nature, prevents us from being curious, inquisitive, and open as we learn. I have been on both sides of this learning mechanism as we all have. Here is my story:

About five years ago, I got pregnant. Around that time, I developed some symptoms, which I believed were the result of a parasite infection. I could feel them inside me growing, living, and moving. Because it was early in my pregnancy, doctors and midwives hands were tied in terms of treatment options. Not only that, but it was very easy for every specialist I consulted for the better part of three and a half years to attribute my worsening digestive, skin, mood, and sleep issues to being pregnant and being a new mom. As my symptoms worsened and my immune system crumpled, I developed 8 different types of dysbiotic bacterial infections including e.coli and h. pylori, to name a few, and a number of parasitical infections along with local systemic yeast both.

The secondary diseases and symptoms as a result of the infections included: hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, weight gain, memory loss, fogginess, irritability, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and pain in various places in my body for which there was no logical explanation. I developed allergies to everything. Dairy, gluten, and sugar seemed to aggravate every symptom; diarrhea, bloating, gas, bad breath, dry skin and menstrual/hormonal issues grew. My marriage suffered severely. The expression of severe eczema all over my fingers and hands that left my hands raw open sores for the better part of two years meant it was always painful to hold my baby; I could not touch him without cringing in pain. I wore gloves all the time to buffer the open sores from worsening. For most of the first two years of Elias’ life, I could not hold him, not the way a parent wants. Perhaps the most emotionally debilitating symptom that resulted from these infections was the growing avoidance of my own vulnerability. I refused to tell people what I was going through. I hid my reality from my clients and students. I pretended I was fine. I walled myself up and blocked myself inside. I created a boundary between myself and possibility for support, insight, healing, and recovery.

I did this because every lab test I took came up negative; every specialist I went to found nothing. Everyone told me I was just having a difficult pregnancy and early motherhood. I was being proactive to empower myself toward health, and I was in freefall with only my intuition validating what I felt. After the first year, I began to close down; as my symptoms worsened, and I found no reprieve in either allopathic or alternative/complementary medicine, I closed down emotionally, hiding my suffering except for select close confidantes. I hid this reality from the world as best I could. No one could validate what I was experiencing except my body; the world had “no medical explanation for my pain,” was the line I heard that grew into a mantra every doctor’s visit I had.

I spent several hours of my life advocating for myself across doctor’s offices, bargaining, begging, crying, and shouting for help, and no one knew how to do so, because according the boundary of their expertise, “there was no medical explanation for your pain, Amy.” For the better part of three and a half years, no one was willing to consider that I knew my own body intimately, that I knew I had these infections. I knew it.

However, I refused to believe that what I was experiencing was in my imagination alone and went about treating my symptoms as best I could with various medicines, protocols, and healing practices that I could get my hands on, but by that point, the infections had become so chronic and well-established, the only solution would be six rounds of super strong, atomic bomb level anti-parasitic medications (typically only one 2-5 day course is needed) and highly expensive medications and supplements I would have to take for the better part of a year to recover from the havoc these microbial invaders had caused on my insides. I did not have access to these things, because I was not a prescriber. I did not have access to these solutions, because I could not get a test to confirm what I already knew, and my insurance would not cover them without a positive test result.

I finally found a prescriber who was willing to run a battery of specialized tests that confirmed what I always knew to be true. Holding the positive test results in my hands, I sobbed in her office, allowing myself to begin the long journey of uprooting my fear of vulnerability, which had taken root in me from the inside out.

Within a month after starting medication, I had dropped over 30 pounds, my eczema, sleep apnea, allergies, and other symptoms resolved, and I began the journey I had been hiding from all those years: how to embody my Self and recommit to my self from a place of empowered vulnerability and stay open to possibility in a world where the boundaries of what others believed was possible did not always complement my own.

The implication of this rapid turnaround in my health has led to some startling changes in my reality: a reassessment of every area of my life, and the ever-growing awareness that the boundary I had erected to hide my illness from others out of fear, anxiety, and shame was limiting in so many ways. My marriage ended, and my relationship with my husband transformed from one of disfunction to friendship and an authentic desire to co-parent and raise our son as friends.

It has been a year since my reclaiming my vulnerability began, and very few people are aware of what my experiences of the past five years have been. I share them now, because we have been taught by our world to be strong. We are taught to embody strength at the expense of our vulnerability. One’s strength is, I have discovered, more often than naught, unhealthily enmeshed with the most vulnerable aspects of ourselves, and the world often reinforces the lesson that it is weak to be vulnerable, that it is weak to exist from a balanced center of vulnerability.

We have been taught to believe that being strong can get us through anything, and while I know I am stronger than I realized I ever could be as a result of the events of the past half-decade, my strength is not the virtue I find myself turning towards and opening to now. It is my relationship with vulnerability and how powerful opportunities result when I acknowledge my seat of power resides in honoring my most vulnerable self.

I wonder how my judgment and locking down of my vulnerability during the time I was ill exacerbated and prolonged my recovery. I may never know with certainty. There were periods of months I suffered alone with only a handful of people who knew the truth of my experience and how much I suffered. I kept myself alone and separate. The choices available to me- even the motivation I had access to was severely crippled by my fear of the potential power expressing my vulnerability could engender.

As I move past the year anniversary of taking the first round of medication that catalyzed my recovery, I find myself sitting in a place of greater openness than I ever have before. I experience possibility everywhere when I recall my growing fluency in expressing my strength and my vulnerability. I remember what it feels like to experience my vulnerability not as a weakness but as an opportunity to forge deeper connection and intimacy with myself and my community; it is no longer a painful and frightening experience for me to recognize that I am fallible, that the unyielding and rigid boundaries imposed by society and the world often are too rigid. They corrupt our expression of self and our ability to learn and evolve if we allow them to convince us that how we walk and exist in our bodies is all in our imagination.

The boundaries of our reality as we learn must evolve with us and in conjunction with our true nature, otherwise they fail to achieve their purpose. How can we learn if we do not honor the truth of who we are? How can we do so in a world where the boundaries imposed upon us invite us to step outside of alignment with that nature? Learning and evolution falter, and disease sets in. For us to continue to learn and grow as a species, it is necessary for each of us to embrace that which makes us special and unique: the soft vulnerability of who each of us, when given the chance to be expressed creates a system of boundaries that offers flexibility, evolution, and even joy.

Heal with Amy J.

Amy J.’s sessions are for you if you are ready to explore your resistance to being a embodied authentically in your life: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Her support is available for you if you are 100% ready to be accountable for your own process of healing, recovery, and evolution. She is available to offer guidance and a safe container, so you can release and heal from a space of powerful vulnerability. With you, she facilitates resolution to issues blocking you from creating the joyful, abundant, and healthy life you are meant to live.

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