My Healing Journey Part 2: My Sabbatical, My Sexuality and My Spirituality
Last week I posted the first part of my Healing Journey, which, although a bit difficult to post because of how much I revealed about myself, was very well received. I knew that I’d be opening up A LOT and really exposing some very intimate details about my life, and if you think the first post was revealing, I’m going to be sharing even more today as I’ll be explaining my year off of work, the start of my spiritual practice, and discovering and thus exploring my sexuality, all of which played a very pivotal role in my healing process.
But first, let’s pick up where we left off…
After we had ended our relationship, I finished off 2008 as best as I could. I was struggling with a job that was still draining me, I was dealing with feelings for someone else that was confusing the hell out of me (I’ll be talking about this in more detail later) and I had an overwhelming sense of just needing a break.
My body was tired and my emotions were all over the place. Since graduating from college, I had worked full-time as a trainer or manager without coming up for air, and the pace of this lifestyle was starting to catch up with me. Quick.
By the beginning of February 2009, 6 months after the break up, after a failed business attempt with a friend, and an even worse idea to move to another state, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Even though this section is about my yearlong sabbatical, the issues of my sexuality overlap this time period as well, as this is when I first started to honestly question in myself….”Hey, I think I might be gay…or bi…or, something. OH SHIT.”
Gay pride. I finally get it.
But, more about my gayness later on…
Between the break-up, the failed business attempt, the blunder of a move down south, and thoughts about questioning my sexuality, my health just kept getting worse despite all of the work I was doing with my diet. At this point, I had lost all motivation to work, to workout, and pretty much do anything. Evening waking up was a chore; it was pretty lame. All I could think about was being able to not think (or feel) about anything.
As issues revolving my sexuality started to bubble up inside me I decided that I’d just take the year off, relax, calm my mind and body, and try to work through the mess that had piled up. Luckily for me, my family still lived in Japan where I spent a good portion of my youth, and for the next several months, I lived there – waking up late, eating sushi, and just really taking care of me.
While I was in Japan, I was able to focus on healing myself. I was able to sleep deeply, I had access to good food, I felt support from my family, and I was able to get back on a good workout routine thanks largely to the gym on the air force base.
It was like rehab for me. A much needed break, and my “Sabbatical” as I’ve nicknamed this period. The slower pace of life in rural Japan did wonders on my body, my mind and my soul. Living in a farming community, I was able to enjoy the beautiful landscape, and clear, fresh air, without the neuroticism of trying to be “successful” and without incessant drive to accumulate material wealth that is so predominant in Western culture.
It was here that I started to see just how out of alignment I was with myself. Working crazy hours, going at a million miles per hour, and not stopping to appreciate simpler things, just wasn’t working for me back in the states. It took the contrast of my life as a corporate manager set against the serene lifestyle of northern Japan for me to fully appreciate just how important rest is to healing the body.
After a few months of some serious R&R, I was ready to go back to the states and take the next step. My body was starting to heal, my digestion was getting better, my skin was clearing up, and I started to feel that warm sense of hope that makes you smile to yourself for no reason.
All seemed very calm on the surface, but I was still dealing with one minor detail that I purposely chose to ignore in the hopes that those feelings would just somehow, go away.
And in my case, those feelings were feelings I had…for another woman.
(dun, dun, dun….)
Looking back at this all, I shake my head and laugh at how much of a big deal I made this out to be. But at the time it was a huuuuuuuuge fucking deal. Facing my own feelings and judgments about myself and about my sexuality was the heaviest weight I have ever carried around with myself.
Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. OH. MY. GOD.
I think I’m gay.
I remember sitting in my room, and even the thought of being gay in my head scared the shit out of me. While sitting alone, I would try to muster up the courage to even tell myself outloud, and every time I would mutter the words to myself “I’m gay”, I would forcibly negate it by shaking my head furiously from left to right, saying, “No, I’m not, no I’m not, no I’m not.”
Uuuuhhh, yes. I was.
The point of me bringing up sexuality in this post is 2 fold:
1. This was an area of my life that I purposely ignored, even while I was in a straight monogamous relationship, and in doing so, was one of the main culprits to why my health started to deteriorate.
You see, this was something that I knew, deep, deep down inside existed. It was an aspect of myself that I did not accept or pay any attention to. And because of fear (fucking fear), I chose to turn my head and to bury it deeper and deeper inside me.
But, I think we all know, that doing that just doesn’t work.
The shit will start to fester and before you know it, the monkey on your back grows into 400 lbs. silverback gorilla. At this point, Jane Goodall wouldn’t even have gone near it.
When we ignore an aspect of ourselves because we think it’s “bad”, we are not only telling God, or whoever created us, that she messed up, but we are also backstabbing ourselves by saying that there are only certain parts that are “good” or worthy.
By throwing away one aspect of ourselves we are throwing away our whole being.
2. Another reason why I bring up my sexuality is the fact that when it all boils down to achieving optimal health, e-v-e-r-y l-i-t-t-l-e part of you counts.
From the food you choose to eat, to how you workout, to the thoughts you think, the words you say, to who you hang around.
And, yes, even your sexuality.
All of that makes up who you are. Right down to your bones and your DNA. Living in alignment with who you are naturally creates a state of ease and flow within your body and within your life.
As trainers, the saying, “Form equals function” is very analogous here. If you think about it this way:
If you’re kyphotic and have rounded shoulders, your push-ups are going to suffer, and thus the exercise becomes less effective and takes more effort, and creates more strain. However, if you fix these muscular imbalances the push-ups get easier.
If you have spiritual or emotional imbalances life takes more effort and creates more strain and anxiety. Fix these spiritual and emotional imbalances and life gets a hell of a lot easier, and funner.
So back to the story…at this point, I had developed very strong feelings for another woman, and needless to say, I was soooo confused. Do I tell her? Do I stop being friends with her? Do I change my name and my identity?
As I said earlier, it was all a much bigger deal in my head than it was in reality. And when I finally did tell her, I felt a tremendous amount of weight lift off my shoulders, and I thought to myself, “Geez, that wasn’t that bad.” It’s like when you psych yourself to get on a rollercoaster and then afterwards are like, “let’s do it again!”
Although the outcome of me telling her my feelings wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, it did open up a new door and new possibilities for me. Basically, after spilling my heart out in an over 8 page letter (front to back a la Rachel Green in Friends), my feelings were not reciprocating.
Talking about misreading signals.
Shitty as it was, I learned a great lesson. Many lessons. And it was through all this that I started to develop my spiritual practice.
My Spiritual Practice
In the midst of my gay-madness, I was introduced to a form of energy healing called Reiki. If you are not familiar with Reiki, you can find more info on the practice here.
In a nutshell, Reiki is a Japanese form of stress reduction that uses light touch or no touch at all on a person to bring life energy throughout the body. It’s even used throughout hospitals and hospices to help patients recover from surgery.
I’m going to assume that you are familiar with “chi” or the Chinese term for “life-force” and basically, Reiki is way to bring balance to our energy, or chi in our body.
It was through Reiki that I started to understand the basics of energy healing, chakras, and our auras and how they play a role in our day to day life and in our health. After receiving a Reiki treatment, I felt so relaxed and at ease. It was as if someone was telling me, “It’s OK. You’re going to be OK”, while I would get a treatment.
I had never felt so free of tension or anxiety than I had after a Reiki treatment (even more than a massage), and after a few sessions decided to take the next step to become a Reiki practitioner myself.
After about 3 years of Reiki practice, going through various attunements, and working with a Peruvian Shaman (yep, a shaman. And he’s bad-ass) I began to take my spiritual practice more serious and immersed myself in personal development and spiritual/religious texts to get a better understanding of the life energy we all share, and the human consciousness.
It was through my spiritual practice that I began to ask myself what I really wanted in my life and what really mattered. I would find that after going to a Reiki session, I would sleep deeper and my anxiety would go away. When I would get on the treatment table and completely relax my body, I was able to let go of what was bothering me, and in this I realized…that I could let go of that anxiety any time I wanted to! How brilliant!
Reiki helped me realize that most of my stress, worry and anxiety was all in my head.
I didn’t have to be anxious if I didn’t need to be.
I didn’t have to worry about shit if I didn’t want to.
Most of my stress (like how big of a deal I made my sexuality) was all in my head.
This was a huge revelation for me, and since then, I’m able to see my life and my circumstances with a much calmer and clearer perspective.
As my good friend Phyl says, “Reiki helps shut off the crazy in my head.”
To me, my spiritual practice is far more than just meditating or sitting in my bed playing with my crystals. Yes. I play with crystals. It’s become a much bigger part of who I am and how I work with people. My spiritual practice and dealing with my sexuality, were two missing pieces to the puzzle of trying to heal myself. I saw some results getting rest and working on my nutrition, but it was not until I started to accept myself for everything that I was, and developing my spirituality that I started to see more lasting changes.
For my life up until then, I was driving on the highway at 65 mph with the e-brake still on, wondering why life was so hard. Adding a spiritual practice to my life was like taking the e-brake off. Life has become soooooo much easier and enjoyable since I’ve been real with myself and since finding Reiki and my spirituality.
You may start to see a recurring theme here in these posts that health isn’t just about what’s on the surface. When you get down to it, its never about what you’re lifting, how far you’re running, or what diet you’re on.
I believe that true health is achieved only when you are in complete alignment with yourself. And sometimes that means, facing some very scary truths about yourself, which, in the end, aren’t that scary at all.
I hope that through my story you find the hope, courage and inspiration to continue on your own path and to have the strength to live a life that is in alignment with who you are. In the next and final post, I’ll talk about how achieving true health sometimes means taking 2 steps forwards and 1 step back, and how you can use my experience to help you along your own journey. Thank you again for allowing me the space to share my story with you.
My Gratitude: As I’ve gone through this journey, it is only necessary that I take the time to express my gratitude and appreciation for two of my mentors in my spiritual practice. First is Diane Gelinas, my Reiki Teacher in Candia, NH and Pierre Garreaud, my Peruvian Shaman Bad-ass.