When we transitioned to whole foods-paleo inspired 4 years ago, I didn’t expect to lose something and find that I would miss it.
Yes, I lost a few things that I don’t miss:
40 lbs of unwanted weight
Sugar and soda habit
…to name a few
Those things do NOT serve me any more.
Shoot…who would miss those things right?
Who wouldn’t want to lose weight, have better energy, improved endurance, improved patience, better sleep, and better cognition???
Turns out, that some people find things like pain actually serve them. I recently heard of a patient who was worried physical therapy would “cure” their pain and they would miss it. They merely wanted their pain to not stop them from living, but not be abolished
Sounds strange…yet again, maybe not.
See, we all have things that serve us somehow. This patient’s pain maybe got her attention from a spouse she desperately loved. Maybe she connected to a community over chronic pain and not having pain would remove her from that source of connection. I really can’t know. My guess is, she doesn’t know exactly why either, but she is at least aware that she wants some pain…even if just a little.
None of the above symptoms listed that I lost served me well, but there are a few that did serve me and I didn’t know what they were until a recent encounter.
The other day, a fellow mom approached me excitedly saying, “Carolyn! I was just thinking of you the other day!!!”
I thought, “Wow, I hope it was good thoughts!”
She continued to share her health struggle with me and wanted to potentially reach out for assistance. I responded, “I’d be happy to help, just let me know. This is how you can reach me…”
What was funny though, was that for as much joy it brought me to know that I actually have a skill set that can truly help folks become empowered to their own health, including fellow mothers, I realized that I also had some sadness.
This chance encounter exposed the few things that I actually lost when I found my health and I sometimes miss.
Here are the two things I lost and sometimes miss:
I miss just going to a party and eating pizza and beer. Not because I miss pizza and beer exactly, but I miss not thinking about how I will pay for it later. See I was stuck in the mud of a myriad of symptoms just like everyone else, that I never associated it with anything I ate. I miss the ability to turn off my brain and not see what I see sometimes. I never knew I did that before, but I did. Going out to dinner always creates one more step…do they have gluten-free?
The problem really is, that I hold so tightly to my health that I just can’t see ever going back. I can’t unlearn what I have learned. Yet, the blissful ignorance, was just that…blissful.
The reality is, I wouldn’t change my path at this point, but I do get to mourn the loss of blissful ignorance. This leads me into #2 because somehow not being blissfully ignorant is somehow isolating.
2. Being lost (or included) in the crowd
Back in the day, I used to find a way to just blend in. I wasn’t the center of attention nor the topic of conversation. I could just be mom Carolyn with fellow moms. It seems that no matter where we go socially, more often than not, we are greeted with “You don’t eat this anymore.” Or “What would you do to fix this?” See, people call on me to help solve their problems; it’s less about the enjoyment of my company or commiseration over mutual symptoms of exhaustion, pain, depression, or whatever fits the situation. This isn’t a pitty party, this is just an observation of mine on how friendships and socializing has changed.
I see how it is hard for others to include me in the crowd. Especially during the holidays as friends and neighbors are distributing holiday treats but skip our house because we “can’t” or “don’t” eat gluten. I appreciate the consideration, but I miss the holiday hugs and cheer. It’s funny because some folks who think we don’t eat sweet treats anymore assume we don’t enjoy them. Just to be clear, I don’t eat whole bags of dark chocolate chips any more, but the family and myself enjoy chocolate treats regularly. WE do choose gluten free and ones that make the enjoyment fun and not resentful nor do they make us feel sluggish later.
It’s hard to say whether this challenge for folks is why it seems our social life has mellowed out or if it’s just the nature of having kids and difficultly planning. I am introverted, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy social events, it’s just that I have to recharge differently. I am accepting of this loss because in many ways it allows me to have more space for my husband and family. This means that I will continue to provide a place at home that each of my children feel welcomed, wanted, included…just for being who they are….always.
Both of these losses have changed my friendships with many. It has strengthened friendships in many cases, but it has exposed those relationships that were founded on shaky ground.
What I have gained in the last few years is the ability to be sad, to be happy, to be angry, to be thoughtful and to be grateful. Having a set of emotions or sadness does not make me feel less content. I have gained the ability to sit with my emotions and accept them for what they are and then release them.
As things change and I adapt, my contentment resides in knowing that life outside my home will undoubtedly change (or not), but that I have everything I need already despite my “losses”. A husband who loves me unconditionally, three kids who against the odds are healthy and happy, a dog who is always eager to please, another dog who barks when the bears and coyotes are near, two quirky cats that make me giggle, chickens who help provide food to the family, honey bees to help the garden grow and a beautiful home.
“The secret to having it all is knowing you already do”-unknown
I already have it ALL, despite the loss of blissful ignorance or being one of the crowd.
For this, I am thankful.
On the eve of this Thanksgiving Holiday, let us all give thanks for the blessings in our lives both near and far. Let’s try to remember to do this more often, not just on a holiday.
Don’t forget to share this secret with others.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove idea that ignorance means blissful.
Replace with acceptance of changes in relationships. Release that which doesn’t serve you. Adapt to the change.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.