OK gang, we’re about to get our hippy-dippy on. Hip-to-the-dip. As in, if you’re not comfortable talking about your spirit/soul/inner-being, walk away. Or to quote 2 year old Sara talking to her infant sister who was trying to attack our cat, “Walk ee-way Kel-Kel. Walk ee-way.”
Long story short: I went temporarily blind at 14 years of age. There is just no way to cushion this sentence, and I can register your shock from here. This does NOT come up in conversation regularly. It was an 8 month slog back to vision, and it’s been a 30 year SLOG since. S.L.O.G. SSSSLLLOOOOGGG. SUH-AHHH-LOG. If you’re ever offered a stroke in your teens with no apparent cause, I do NOT recommend it. However, you will meet cool doctors with wild titles like “Neuro-Opthamologist”, and “Vitreo-Retinal Specialist”, and “Shamanic Healer”. Wait. Hang in there with me.
I feel compelled to share this story as (1) It explains why I live my life so all-in. Blindness, melanoma, HELLP Syndrome…I live with an altered sense of time relative to most people. People remark on my…intensity?…commitment to making every day count? It’s not DNA, it’s circumstance. (2) I’ve tried many, many things to heal my eyes. I recommend all of them. In fact, if you have a recommendation, I’ll likely try it. If you tell me to rub oregano on my feet and sing to the moon…check. Don’t laugh, pretty sure that one came from my Dad.
Perhaps you’d like to read about unconventional ways to heal; perhaps like me, you suspect there is a connection between your spiritual health and your physical health, and you wonder how to heal them together. If so, let’s begin.
(1) Shamanic Healing/Soul Retrieval
Have you ever uttered the words, “It’s as if a part of me died”? Most of us have said this phrase at some point in our lives. When my Mother had a nervous breakdown, when my Grandmother died unexpectedly, when my parents divorced. These words are reserved for the moments which create a chasm in our personal time-space continuum: All that came before, and all that came after that singular event. A Shamanic Healer would tell you the words you spoke had a deeper truth: A part of you did not die, but rather, it fled. It shut down. It ran away. And unfortunately for you, it took some good stuff with it. “Soul Retrieval” is an attempt to regain what was lost during that tragedy.
While practitioners of these methods probably work in a variety of ways (and this is just ONE thing practiced by Shamanic Healers and in no way encompasses all they do with clients), I can speak to my experience. I laid in a comfortable position for about an hour with my eyes closed, listening to soothing music. The Healer saw whatever it is she saw in my spirit (I was comfortably cozy under the world’s softest blanket), and I too, experienced what I would call dreams. We shared our stories at the end, and I can no longer remember what was my version and what was hers, but they indeed overlapped and coordinated in theme.
She saw the points in my life when my Mother was most ill, and I had thrown away my eyes. “If I can’t see my own Mother, I won’t see anything at all.” The story goes far deeper as she found my “spiritual eyes” and my soul pieces and parts (Missed you!), returned them to me, and then made agreements to create a “whole me” again. I’ll summarize and say…it was “EYE-OPENING”, both literally and figuratively.
“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” -Kurt Vonnegut (a mighty fine Hoosier)
In closing, she spun and aligned my chakras. If you don’t do this, I highly recommend it. Imagine a quick meditation that resets and realigns the energy/spiritual channels in your body. Whether we like it or not, we are electrical beings, and our personalities did not arise from thin air. You have a soul. You have a spirit. They can break, not unlike any other part of you. If you can heal a broken leg, you can heal a broken spirit. It’s just math.
And here’s some more math: My eye pressures dipped below the average glaucoma threshold for the first time in 2 years of elevation. They remained clinically insignificant for 3 additional years. I walked away with an entirely different perspective on my back story, and ALL SORTS of me began to heal. Relationships, eyes, moods…it spiraled out of me like a quiet breeze, making everything better. Of course, at that time, I did not know it was a spiral. That came later….
Interviewing seeing eye dogs wasn’t going well, as I don’t easily warm to dogs. Tigers however…
This practice is pretty new to me, so I hope I get close: imagine a type of very gentle massage/manipulation with the aim of getting your body back to an aligned state where it can heal. It does not hurt at all, and it’s been around as a practice for a long, long time. I work with someone who pairs this practice with a spiritual element, trying to figure out how you got so whopper-jawed in the first place.
Again, I laid comfortably and warm for about an hour, this time on a massage table. Because my eyes are our main focus, my cranium was the point of work. As it turns out, your skull isn’t as concrete and immovable as we may imagine. Your skull plates fuse in toddlerhood, but there is, while minor, some give to your head. There is certainly give at the base where your spinal cord exits your brain. Your spinal cord is VITALLY important to your overall health, as it’s the messenger from the brain to the rest of your body. If those two aren’t speaking…well? You’re screwed.
My practitioner surmised, having known me personally for a while, that I have a very expansive spiritual vision. Not psychic…let’s be clear. What she means, and what I’ve heard throughout my life, is that I do not use my eyes for anything other than basic, functional seeing. I see people and circumstances far beyond their physical presence. I may have always been this way, but in truth, I cannot remember when I began seeing people for who they are, and not even noticing how they looked. I’m especially good at seeing joy in people, which is pretty easy when you aren’t held up by things like hairstyle or facial expressions.
I walked away with a little homework and some exercises which I find quite relaxing. I also learned about my spirit spiraling in connection with my DNA, and I now have a working picture in my mind as to where and how these two things intersect.
DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID RIGHT THERE?! Your spirit and your physical health MEET and interact! This is important stuff people. If you don’t believe your spirit and your body have anything to do with each other, than you’ve never had a stress headache or worried yourself into stomach pain. Bravo. I’ve done both of these things within the last 48 hours.
(3) Regular ‘ole Chit Chat Therapy
My name for “counseling”. Getting tools to deal with serious illness, life changes, mental illness…you name it. A good Chit Chat Doctor is key for me. I wasn’t born knowing how to handle a child with Special Needs while juggling her doctor appointments and my body’s constant desire to fight me. I had to build a coping tool chest, and that’s the output of a good counselor. It’s harder than a regular doctor’s appointment because your eyeballs might sweat, but it’s GOOD.
I’ve also taken medications to assist in my struggles with anxiety, until last Fall when I decided I had “memorized” how to feel calm. HA!!! Pretty sure I had some lunch dates with girlfriends when they tried to secretly sneak those meds into my iced tea. Trying life free of medications was educational, and not for me.
(4) Finding my Core
Not the one they talk about in Pilates, although I suppose that’s important too. I’ve had more than one healer tell me I’m entirely missing “my core”. Think of that as a home based in your middle torso somewhere that either houses your spirit when it’s not in your brain or otherwise houses you identity. Pretty elementary explanation, but seeing as I don’t have one, it’s the best I can do. I’m technically missing my root chakra as well, so I figure I’m doing pretty well for missing entire body parts.
Why does this matter NOW, at 44? I’m happy, and I have a fulfilling existence. It matters because it may all change. My glaucoma is unstable and non-responsive to a year of treatment. I am, once again, facing the very real tenuous nature of my vision. Last week, I was in a dark place where sunlight and hope came to die. It was some ugly. Luckily, God had his hands on me and sent helpers. He sent the Good Word. He sent grace, day by day, hour by hour.
And I came to this conclusion: Blindness changes what I do, not who I AM. Therein lies my panic attack; the “I AM” of me has always been an extremely fluid construct. This year “I AM” a meeting planner. Last year “I WAS” a Princess Coordinator. I’ve been an RN, a Neuroscience Researcher, a Stand Up Comedian, a Quilter, a Writer…folks, I don’t mean I can’t keep a job. I mean I can’t keep an IDENTITY.
Being a chameleon served me quite well in my childhood and adolescence. My life was unpredictable, so in order to survive, I became someone who could adapt and change. It’s a cool skill set until you wake up one day and have no real grasp on what makes you…”you”. If I have to spend the rest of my life living inside my brain, I might want that core after all. I might want to feel there is a home to my spirit. I might want my life to be about more than how much I can juggle in a day. I can no longer focus on doing. I must start to focus on being.
Easier said than done.
If I can’t solidify an identity, I’ll just be Idina Menzel. I can’t sing AT ALL, but…HAIR. Need I say more?
I’m taking a Soul-Mapping workshop for starters, and my core has definitely made an appearance after my last session of Ortho-Bionomy. It’s empty, to be honest. I’m filled with all sorts of wonderful things, but they haven’t moved into that space yet. It’s cool…I’ve got a little time. I’m allowing it to just exist for now, as I adjust to finally feeling at home in my own mind. My mind is a colorful, fanciful-fun joint, but it does lack a baseline.
So for now, here are my “I Am’s”:
I am Lori.
I am endowed with unusual visual capacities, both spiritual and physical.
I see the world differently, and I am therefore different within the world.
I am grateful to be on this journey with so many brilliant people whom have bravely shared their gifts with me.
I am relieved Jesus sticks with me, even when I’m surly and scared.
I am going to be OK, even if some parts of the next few months really suck. Either way, there is OK’ness in store for me.
I am confident my team of physicians will choose helpful interventions that will save my eyesight for the maximum time possible.
I am not alone, nor have I ever been. The support spiraling out from me is the prettiest thing I’ve ever witnessed, and with or without vision, that scene is mine to keep.
I am not wise, but I am certainly seeking it.
Godspeed, my friends. As always, Godspeed.
(Reference to title, “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls)
“I go to the doctor, we go to the mountains.
We look to the children, we drink from the fountain.
We go to the Bible, we go through the work out.
We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout.
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line.
And the less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.”