This week, I watched Gabor Maté’s movie, THE WISDOM OF TRAUMA. I also listened to one of the many conversations he had with experts, one of which included five physicians, who discussed how stress negatively affects our health. They cited a plethora of clinical studies that reported how unchecked or unresolved stress suppresses the immune system and can be the breeding ground for chronic disease. Their warning was, “If you don’t know how to say no, your body will eventually say no for you.”
My reflection: As I listened to The Wisdom of Trauma, I thought about how I had allowed many of my years to be consumed with stress, worry, and fear. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disease, and breast cancer. I wonder what role unresolved stress had to do with my illnesses?
Today’s Promise to consider: If we don’t take care of ourselves, how will we be able to care for anyone else? I remember well the many years of my son’s suffering. Did I take care of myself? No. Many nights found me awake and writing in my journal about my fears. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my uppermost thought was not about my healing, but who would help my addicted son while I recovered. Today, let’s take time and think about what this sentence means for us: If you don’t know how to say no, your body will eventually say no for you.
I REALLY needed this today. Thank you!
Thanks, Trish. I’m grateful for your support and compassion. xo
wow! so true. thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Rebecca, for your comment. xoxo
Thanks for reminding me of the danger of allowing stress to rule our thinking. I too was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and breast cancer while dealing with my son’s addiction. I loved him so much it was hard to take care of myself. He was all I cared about. Looking back I too wonder……
My precious Ajia, Thanks for writing. My love to you. Thanks for staying close.
Brilliant insight, Libby. I have seen two of my friends develop breast cancer after their husband’s infidelities. I saw another friend develop breast cancer after both her parents died while taking care of them for several years. It was such a stressful time for her. And now her cancer has recurred. Although her younger sister helped in the caretaking of both parents, only Diane developed cancer.
I have no doubt of the mind-body connection and many doctors and scientists agree wholeheartedly.
Dearest Nancy, Thanks for your wise comment. Yes, the mind-body connection is supported by many doctors and scientists. It seems that for me and many of your friends, it’s certainly true. May we all heal – mind, body, and soul. My love to you.
So important Libby! Someone told me long ago saying no to others is really saying yes to ourselves.That helped me so much. I still struggle with priorities. Motherhood/nurturing is so primal for many of us – the need/instinct to want to keep those we love safe and out of pain. So we can get out of pain, too. If we get sucked under we are no good to those we love if and when the time comes they choose to get better and ask for help. ( That thought/lesson motivated me even when I could not generate enough self love to care about my own health. ) Also, I think we are brain washed in our culture too — that to be “good” mother/parent is to be a worried anxious mother- for how could we ever be “okay” if someone we love is in pain ? I wonder if we feel guilt if we are able to let go of the worry and stress. Then we would be guilty about not feeling guilty. (: But my son taught me so much and so has your wisdom. It is never selfish to put our own health first- it is essential. Selfish- that word. Self centred.Not a bad thing! It is more than okay to build a life around our own health needs. It is survival. Mental and physical health. I take the same lessons learned from the effects of a disease of addiction and apply them as I watch my mother grow more frail and my husband progress in Alzheimer’s. I realize self awareness, checking in where I am at and strategies are so important! The very best way to love our loved ones who are ill is to take time out and make space for recharging ourselves. Can be as simple as okay I will allow half an hour of worry time, now– out for a walk, watch a comedy– any thing but going down that rabbit hole of despair. There were so many times when I did not feel like laughing that my husband would just quietly turn on a comedy. Oh how true it is that laughter is such good medicine. Even dark humour! Still is. What are the strategies we need and work for us? I used to be so overwhelmed I’d forget to pause and ask the question. So …. we all do have our own wisdom.best for me is MUSIC! And S.e.l.f H.E. L. P. Acronym. (stop! exercise, laughter, friends, habits of hope, eat, love, pray. (; Thanks for reminding me what I need to remind myself of today. Sending you much love.
My dear Joy, As always, your message hits home with me and, I’m sure, many others. You’re right that motherhood is ‘primal’ for us, and we often get duped into thinking that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves if our children or those we love are suffering. If we lose ourselves, then our loved ones have lost their prayer and emotional support. Your examples of Alzheimer’s and aging make this clear. We need to recharge ourselves so we can be present for the ones we love. Laughter — oh, yes! Laughter is so therapeutic. I love your acronym: S.E.L.F.H.E.L.P — and I’ll remember it. Thank you!! Love always.
My son’s drug issues began approximately 20 years ago and got progressively worse. Over the years, I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, anxiety disorder, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome. He went to prison for 2 years and rehab a number of times. His life has improved. He is married now and has a child…but the worrying never goes away. Often times, I fear it will rear it’s ugly head. Four years of talk therapy helped me learn how to compartmentalize and focus on my mental and physical health. However, life has turned me into a chronic worrier….some days are better than others. I continue to pray.
Dear Lisa, I understand, and I often feel the same way. I once asked Dr. MacAfee, my son’s beloved addiction therapist, about the constant worry, and he said, “Be patient with yourself. You’ve been vigilant a long time.” I agree – some days are better than others. I join you in prayer and peace. xo