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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Needling My Self

So I am four weeks into my acupuncture treatments, and search for self. It has been very interesting so far. I will give a brief recap of my experience thus far. I don’t have a deep working knowledge about the principles of acupuncture, so my description is based very much on my experiences so far, definitely anecdotal.

The primary principle is that there is a flow of energy, called chi, that travels through our bodies. Imagine that your body has a memory. The memories of the body are created from physical events, illnesses, injuries, and emotional stress leave impressions in the energy that flows through your body. Like the memories in the mind, the greater the intensity of the event typically the more vivid the impressions left behind. The stresses and illnesses that come upon us in daily life can temporarily disturb the flows, but if it disturbed consistently over time the energy gets redirected and in more severe cases dammed up and altogether blocked. This can lead to various kinds of illness and recurring symptoms. In my case, from several years of extenuating life stressors and lack of time for self care my symptoms are emotional and even more abstractly….spiritual.

The first three weeks consisted of a ‘clearing out’ of energy that has been stagnating or flowing in a less then optimal manner in my body.
As the acupuncture treatments begin, the needle pierces these blocks providing a way for the chi flow to clear out and eventually reestablish the healthy optimal paths. As the blocks clear out they frequently leave your body like echoes of the actual symptoms. Twenty four to 48 hours after the treatment you frequently experience a short lived flare up of past maladies. Ok so now my medical friends are reading this saying, “Sweet Jesus, we didn’t intervene soon enough and Karen has lost all grounding in science and quite possibly her mind”. I know how this sounds, but I have observed this process with both Beanie and Finance Guy’s and am now experiencing it first hand.

[At this point Hopefully I have not slandered the practice of acupuncture in my description, or freaked out my two readers so much that they avert their gaze when I see them at the bus stop.]

The first three weeks of clearing out echoes looked a little like this

WEEK 1: Irrational rage- vented primarily on my ever loving Finance Guy, for my perception of his crimes against my humanity.

WEEK 2: More anger- this time focused on the perceived injustices that surround me in my daily life (rude drivers, irresponsible parents, wealthy American’s sense of entitlement, fickle fashion and generalized self loathing).

WEEK 3: Sadness, hopelessness, overwhelming despair and grief. Feeling disconnected from the life around me, and an indirect correlation between my decrease in self confidence and more self loathing. This was overall the worst of all the weeks so far. Feeling that life has no point or meaning and that it will never change or improve is no cake walk.

Each of these weeks emotions represent how I have responded at one time or another to the stress of illness, diagnosis, and caring for my wellness challenged family. They are emotions that are all too often, briefly discussed in books related to celiac disease. I have always felt this to be a disservice to the individuals who are struggling with being frequently wellness challenged and its long term effects on their lives….my life.

This week however, Dr. Bob was done clearing out, and did what he described as ‘unlocking deep energies’. Like locks in a canal there would be a rush of energies at the initial unlocking and then a leveling. I won’t bore you with a description of my experience, but by the time the treatment was half way done I was dizzy and had such a release of endorphins that I left the office with a very pleasant buzz. Unfortunately this was followed by an intensifying of the Week 3 emotional state, which I did not think was possible. I went to sleep that night forlorn. I wasn’t sure how much more I, or my family, could endure of my recent tempestuous nature.

The next morning, I woke up feeling rested. There was lightness in my body and a less fog in my head. I had energy like a steady flame in my heart, that I had not felt in.….I can’t remember how long. Any kind of clarity or sense of purpose still eluded me, and I still felt disconnected and adrift, but I was surprised to see, that happiness had crept back into me, with no particular reason for being there.

My sense of self is still a bit like a dilapidated building. One wall collapsed and in shambles, the others teetering precariously, but even in this the rubble and dust I am beginning to see little parts of my old self still intact. A walk around my yard that day brought some clarity on the next set of plantings and the energy and confidence to move forward on them. A set hedge row of inkberry hollies in front of our fence along the street, eight plants purchased and planted. They are exactly what I wanted; natives, shelter and food for birds, additional privacy and they look lovely. They are exactly what I had envisioned.

I see this as a sign that my instincts may still be intact, and that is a comfort. I am more excited and optimistic about what else will be revealed as the dust settles. There is much work to be done before my house is whole again, but maybe all the pieces are here, not where I expect them, but waiting for a loving renovation.

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