Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Growth Spurts

When I was a little, sometimes my legs would ache and ache - somewhere in my calves. My parents would tell me, "those are growing pains." And I thought to myself, how peculiar!? Yet, I was satisfied with this answer, it kind of made sense that things could ache during a period of growth. Even though other parts don't ache, like hair and finger nails, the idea of my bones growing and aching was sensible, and peculiar at the same time.

Growing pains seem to be a theme this week, and it's only Tuesday! From classmates, to patients to a friend's pregnant body, the conversations are showing up all over the place. Of course it got me thinking...

Yesterday, a dear friend and classmate of mine stated, and I quote, "Growing suuuuuuucks." There was a little growl in her voice, followed by a giggle. And this proceeded some tears she shared with another member of our cadre. "I'm growing," was her response when I checked in with her, post tears.

As I sat down with another buddy during this interaction, I said, "Yea, growing is rough..." recalling of my own last major growth spurt, which included no less than: prescription Xanax and Lexapro (anti anxiety medications); a wise psychiatrist; therapy; acupuncture; walking the treadmill married to my ipod and closed-caption CNN at the local gym; routine morning calls to a family friend to help get me out of bed; many many many Puffs Plus with Lotion; the entire Shopaholic novel series so that I could stop crying; and really good friends and family talking time... just to name a few.

It was rough, and I mean it. As I recount those days during that growth spurt, and following when some peace and assemblance of order had been restored I am reminded that while sometimes excruciating, or at least uncomfortable, it is all worth it. I learned so many things during that time, and since then, life has only gotten more incredible. It's inevitable that I will have another growth spurt sometime, because life is moving all the time. As some wise folks in my life have said, "If we ever stop learning, we are dead." And my friend - the tearful, giggly wonder - even in the midst of her grievance had the wisdom to share that it was a good thing really, and needed to happen.

So, yes, it is hard, it can be painful, and it is worth it. I can say that with confidence now because life is a bit easier than it was before and during that last major spurt. Having healed through all of the pain and suffering that was showing up in my life, I was able to explore my relationship with my now husband in an intimate, honest and profound way. I was able to eventually leave my work position peacefully and not with anger, upset or exhaustion. I was able to apply to school, and become a student with excitement and faith in my life's work.

During that time I learned a great deal about the signals that my body was giving me that I didn't realize carried so much weight regarding the state of my wellbeing. I now know that when my stomach is doing flip flops and butterflies, I need to check in with myself to see if I am nervous, excited or upset. I realize that sleep is crucial (even though I am up late now - I am still in practice folks!). I know that if I do not feel self expressed, all things go awry. I am beginning to understand my digestion better too.

People often say that healing is like peeling back the layers of an onion. I have wondered to myself why not a cabbage, or lettuce, what about the artichoke? Now, these too are wonderful vegetables, yet they are different from the onion. Firstly, the onion is round for the most part - with no real beginning and no end. Like life, and like the seasons - all things flow into the next. Onions are also interesting because their layers contain many juicy bits between peelings. Whenever I am in the midst of growing and healing, there is a tough layer which separates the juicy, yummy, easier goings of life. Fascinating really!

Each time we are in a juicy part of life, we are like the juicy bits of the onion, in-between some tougher textured layers. Sometimes these juicy, flavor filled layers are thicker or thinner just like the shorter and longer spans of "the good times" in our lives. When we are in the tough parts, it can be hard to think about the other fantastic things that happened before, and even harder to fantasize about those which will follow.

Just like the achy legs of a growth spurt, or the scab on a scraped knee, healing ourselves at an emotional and spiritual level can be uncomfortable. Yet, the maturity of our bodies, and the new, soft skin underneath the scab is truly a gift to behold.

We can avoid the injury and difficulty of healing, sure, we can...and it might show up as an emotional catharsis (like I refer to in my Xanax paragraph), or a cancer, a bad knee or insomnia. Somewhere this need for something to move, heal and grow will show up. The best thing, I think, that we can do is welcome it, invite it in and explore it so that we are doing a little bit at a time, each day, each moment. And through this we can learn to live with more ease and peace.

How do we welcome it? How do we invite it in? I am still playing with this, I am a beginner absolutely. My teacher today offered something helpful though on this topic. She says, to allow ourselves to go the place, within ourselves that is uncomfortable - maybe scary. We close our eyes, and we focus on that place - in our belly, leg, chest... wherever we feel some void - or some unmet need, or some memory that is painful. And then we stay with it, familiarizing ourselves with it. We allow ourselves to be there for a moment.

Then maybe we will feel something move.

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