Friday, June 12, 2015
The Gifts of Polio and the Trials of Trauma - The Joy Of Healing
No child should ever endure what I experienced and it took a toll on me mind, body and Spirit BUT I can honestly say that everything that happened to me was a blessing and a gift. At the tender age of 5 I experienced a vision. From Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility:
As I lay on the couch, my mother glared at me smoking a cigarette. I had to go to the bathroom but I knew better than to ask her. I learned that I had to wait until my father or grandfather came home to be toileted. I had a vision. This beautiful Being with a flowing white beard appeared. A hand was extended to me to climb into a well bucket only there was no hand. I climbed into the well bucket even though I lay paralyzed on the couch. I was reeled up to meet this Being and then I returned to my paralyzed body. I knew that somehow I was going to make it through this mess.
After experiencing this vision, I saw this Being everywhere I looked. I saw the Being in my storybook. Whether my eyes were open or closed this Being was with me. Guardian Angel? or hallucination from the fever and pain of polio? I cast my vote for Guardian Angel that was there to protect me. Despite the emotional and physical pain, the abject terror I was experiencing, somewhere within me I felt peace and comfort. I regained movement of my right arm and leg but my left arm and leg remained paralyzed. At least I could wiggle around a little on the couch and could hold my books. Here I was with this cold, angry, rejecting woman smoking a cigarette who would not and could not touch me, waiting for my father or grandfather to come home to meet my basic needs. Despite the precarious predicament I was in, I had a sense of safety. This was my first of many experiences of being touched by grace.
“Hi – I’m from the March of Dimes. I understand your daughter has polio. May I come in and see her?”
“Yes, someone has come for me,” I thought.
She helped me down onto the carpeted floor.
“Let me see how you can move…can you move from side to side? Can you roll over?” she gently asked me.
“Boy you are one of the lucky ones…”
“Really?” I thought to myself – “this is lucky?”
But she was right. There were many children who were institutionalized and in iron lungs. There were many children and adults who never regained movement after paralysis and there were thousands who died in the polio epidemics. Yes indeed I was one of the lucky ones. And although my mother did not have the capacity to care for me and about me, I had my spirit guide who invited me to make a choice. I chose life.
Eight and a half years ago my mind, body and Spirit cried out for healing. I was in a constant state of the stress response given my history of trauma, the demands of my job and raising two children. I was caught in a cycle unaware of what was happening to me until I could no longer ignore that my body was slowly dying. Once again, I had to make a choice and I not only chose life, but decided to set out on a quest to heal my life. I had no idea of the how, what, when, who or where any of this was going to happen. I just put it out there knowing that I had to leave my award winning career as a social worker at the VA and allow my Spirit to speak through my new found gift of poetry.
Writing poetry and reconnecting to the Divine Force - the Source of all that is - opened the portal to possibility and to healing. Despite all outward physical appearances, I let my imagination take the lead and my Spirit soared. My body transformed. The very act of creating poetry connects me to the Universal life force and the intelligent mind. I write about love, life, gratitude, running, healing, use word play to bring joy and paint images of total healing. I would give a quick brush or glance of what no longer serves me and quickly transform it into creating my new state of being.
While what happened to me three years after contracting paralytic polio should never have happened - violence and rituals of torture of every kind - the Universe has a wonderful way of setting things right when we put the intention out there of what we want and need. When we have faith, never ever give up and keep our sights on what we want, the Universe sends us exactly what we need.
Someone else has come for me now to join me on this part of my healing journey. I found Jeff Spratt, muscular therapist, on the 2nd anniversary of 4/15/13 where he was volunteering to do chair massage on One Boston Day. His skill in working with endurance athletes, his training in Eastern modalities and being a part of the Massachusetts Critical Incident Stress Management teams where he works with first responders to heal from their exposure to trauma, along with his warm heart, compassion, and wonderful personality are just what I need on this next phase of my healing journey. I can feel Spirit working through Jeff to heal the effects of paralytic polio and to move energy. My intentions for healing rise up from within me to meet him and his work. The work we do together fuels my meditation practice and I bring my meditation practice to fuel the work we do together. Eight and a half years ago I would visualize having God as my master electrician reconnecting the circuitry damaged by polio. Today, I am blessed to work with Jeff in the physical world of my body to actually create new circuitry.
I experience the joy of healing as I work with Jeff to erase all that went before and to create new biology, new neurology and new neuromuscular connections. My body did not have the chance for complete healing after contracting paralytic polio despite the best efforts of my beloved physical therapist, Miss Holly and my physiatrist Dr. Moskowitz because I was living in a fight/flight mode and my body did not have the opportunity for growth and repair. Jeff's strength and being grounded while bringing in the calm and comfort of Divine Love heals all that went before.
I've had to make a lot of changes in my life to clear the path for this phase of my healing journey. I notice the thought and behavior patterns that are connected to my old way of Being and move away from them to ensure that everything is aligned with my new Being; no longer responding from the state of seeking and needing approval, feeling less than, ashamed, taking care of others at the expense of myself and my energies because that's what I used to do and instead feeling my invincibility, fierceness, strength, steadiness, confidence, courage and making choices of how I use my time, my talents and my treasures in ways that feel right and good aligned with MY highest purpose. I'm working on transforming frustration, impatience and fear to joy, gratitude, smiling and choosing happiness with total trust and faith in the goodness and benevolence of the Universe.
There's a Yiddish word and also a delicious food but I digress - there's a Yiddish word, kishkes that means guts or intestines. It's also a word that for me means my soul - to feel all of this in my kishkes - that I am now able to heal ALL that went before and experience my wholeness, my beauty, my calm, my joy, my vibrancy and vitality no longer living in fear or hesitancy but claim my amazing life and feel the unbridled joy, gratitude and happiness of being alive. I am excited to experience this transformed state as a runner. Running also helps me to transform and transcend all that went before.
Beginning at the tender age of 5, I was faced with a choice...I chose life and through the experience of paralytic polio and all that followed, I discovered the joy of resiliency, the showering of grace upon me, feeling the presence of that delicious Divine Force that is outside of us and dwells within each of us, courage and strength to prevail no matter what obstacles present themselves to us or how awful life may seem...from fellow polio survivor and Gold medalist, Wilma Rudolph:
And now grace has showered upon me once more and with Jeff, through the work of Joe Dispenza and Candace Pert and other teachers that I am yet to discover, I experience gratitude in every fiber of my being for the gifts of polio and the trials of trauma that have made me the woman I am today, the joy of playing with all that is possible, the joy of healing and happiness for this amazing gift that is the miracle of my life.
From the soon to be released "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems":
Life is sweet on the way to the top expansive panoramic view
elevating emotions Spirit soars life beginning anew.
Bottom floors fear angst doubt let them all with speed now pass
I glimpse my glow with angel slides reflecting on elevator’s glass.
Witnessing worries whisking by loosen grip let everything go
tremulous transcends transforming trusting allow life to flow.
Comfort safety luxurious surrounds what joy to arrive in this space
relax release allow Spirit guide breathe with ease experience grace.
A fountain of life font of healing Truths revealed and told
no more hunger or burning desires treasures far greater than gold.
Bubbling brook of soul’s delight radiance smile shine
heaven on earth in each beat of my heart One with all Divine.
Cheers! To life! Love yourself well!
I chronicle the first 7 years of my healing journey after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease as a survivor of childhood paralytic polio and 9 years of childhood domestic violence in Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility.
In Journey Well, the journey continues in the wake of my nephew's suicide on 3/4/11 and the events of 4/15/13. Through my journey of healing and transformation, we learn that no matter what life circumstances happen to us, we can always find a way to journey well.
50% of book proceeds from all of my books, available on Amazon are donated to the Arredondo Family Foundation whose mission is to provide a helping hand to those experiencing a tragedy and to provide education on matters relating to military, veterans, military families, and the issue of suicide.
I am working on my new book, Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems which brings together my best poems of the last 8 years and will include my latest poems as I continue to feel the heal and move forward in my life.