Submitted by Mandi on Sun, 01/15/2012 – 16:09
It has been said and believed, “You are what you eat,” a statement that has become most apparent throughout the world over the last few years with obesity, increase in illnesses and death, and the ever growing epidemics such as cancer, diabetes, and AIDS. Society has and continues to respond to these culprits with fad diets and diet modifications, focus on physical fitness and health, and more proactive approaches to healing and wellness, both medically and holistically. I myself promote holistic healing and wellness in addition to following a raw food and organic lifestyle. I, like many other individuals, realize that I am what I eat, and I have transformed myself and my life through various diet and lifestyle modifications, healthy body and mind practices, and overall conscientious living. My road to recovery, renewal, and bliss never stops and always welcomes new discoveries and modifications.
Throughout my journey, I have not only realized that I am what I eat, but I have also learned that healing involves the mind, the body, and the spirit. I have and continue to write my biography while transforming my personal stories and experiences into my biology. What we as individuals must recognize is that we are unique and powerful human beings, capable of so very much. But in addition to our abilities, we are also very much influenced and affected by all that we encounter and endure throughout childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood. We must view ourselves holistically, meaning that it’s not only what we eat that makes us who we are, but also what we experience in life mentally, spiritually, internally, and externally that creates our stories; our biographies and biology. As Caroline Myss states, “What I recognized is that your biography becomes your biology–you are one and the same with your life and your history. Events that you have not yet reconciled, haven’t forgiven, haven’t let go of, are carried as that debt in your cell tissue.
Our biography depicts our biology, our physical and mental well- being, and our capacity to forgive and heal not only ourselves, but those around us. Why People Don’t Heal, by Caroline Myss, explains this most intriguing yet valid explanation of our biological and biographical existence and how we have the power within us to create and modify our biography, maintain a healthy biology, optimize our existence, and achieve ultimate physical and mental wellness. In addition to the biography/biology concept, Why People Don’t Heal uncovers fantastic truths, aids in identifying our past, present, and future, and reveals the beauty that lies beyond illness when we discover our capabilities to forgive and heal.
There are several pieces to the puzzle that depicts our biography and biology. In fact, your biography is a piece of your biology, or rather, that which your biology is derived from. As stated above, healing is a huge part of our biography and biology. Our past experiences are a major part of our lives, revealing who we are, where we have achieved and/or failed, what we have gained and lost, and ultimately shaping the person we are and that which we will become. They are our biography. But how do we reveal what is causing our illness, what is preventing us from healing, and how do we ultimately heal?
Myss states that, “Healing is unattractive.” What does this mean? Would you not think that healing would on the contrary be very attractive? Think about a wound that heals. When it bleeds and infection occurs, it appears and feels very unattractive, but as it heals, the skin becomes “normal” again and attractiveness is reinstated, right? What about the scar though? How attractive are the scars that result from wounds? Let’s take it a step further. Let’s take your heart, your feelings, emotions, and total well-being. When we are victimized and hurt emotionally rather than physically, are we not wounded and therefore scarred? Imagine all of the scars that lay upon our hearts, minds, and souls from mental and emotional battles and unpleasant past experiences. The difference between the internal and external wounds is that we cannot see our internal scars and therefore, we can hide behind them and hide them from others. In addition, our external scars heal on their own through our body’s amazing ability to grow new skin and rejuvenate, but what about our internal wounds? Our internal wounds rely solely upon us to uncover them and take the steps to heal our emotional pain, anguish, and resentment. If we allow these wounds to lie dormant and fester, never unleashing them and overcoming our “skeletons,” we become victims of our own reality and never heal. Not only do our hearts not heal, but these wounds wreak havoc on our biology; our physical well-being that is in turn stricken by lack of health.
As Myss states, “Victims do not heal,” and in order to heal, we must face the music and identify our wounds. This can be most difficult, painful, and YES, very unattractive. When we no longer hide from our own reality and we change our unhealthy, wound causing ways of life into much more healing ways of living, we are faced with some of our biggest challenges. Becoming committed to making necessary changes and taking responsibility for our whole selves are necessary first steps to healing. They can be scary, emotional, painful, and certainly ugly, but the outcome will result in a healed, attractive, and powerfully restored you.
Forgiveness is a major part of healing and it is, according to Myss, “the most powerful thing to do to your biology.” When we begin to heal our wounds and forgive, our biology changes. Therefore, we begin a new chapter in our biography. Forgiveness however can be very unattractive and unappealing as well. When we forgive, we must first look deep into ourselves. We must then recognize what must change and begin to make those changes. This can certainly feel like the most terrifying and daunting task that we will ever be faced with. Next we must forgive ourselves, our families, friends, peers, and society for any and all anguish that we or they have inflicted upon us. Louise Hay suggests in You Can Heal Your Life, “Whenever we are ill, we need to search our hearts to see who it is we need to forgive.” We need to identify our wounds, identify those people, things, and circumstances that have caused our wounds and begin to forgive. Not only do we have to forgive others, but we have to disassociate ourselves from wound creators, banish our victim mentality, and learn to forgive and love ourselves.
This brings me to the subject of what Myss calls “Woundology.” Woundology, according to Myss, is “the intimacy of bonding with our wounds and honoring each other’s wounds.” It is very much playing the part of the victim and enabling ourselves and others to become a victim subordinate to our wounds. My mother passed away almost 10 years ago and although I have overcome many obstacles because of this traumatic experience, I know that I have succumbed to my own woundology because of my loss. I have felt victimized and sorry for myself, and I have also allowed others to patronize me through the language of woundology. I know that my father and my sisters have also established their own language of woundology due to my mother’s death, and together, as a family separate and together, we have all given in to our loss and our wounds. “My mother died and that is why I am the way I am and do the things I do,” I have often said. “My wife died and this is why my life will never be the same, never be what I want it to be….,” says my father. Although we speak of many of our wounds to outsiders, we often do not say these feelings aloud. Rather we hold them in our hearts and minds, internalizing them and preventing ourselves from healing to the best of our ability. We have not fully faced our pain and loss, and therefore we are challenging our capacity to heal.
I have discovered many additional wounds within my own life and being. I have a deep devotion to my loved ones and have often felt responsible for the happiness of others and their approval of me and my actions. In 1996, I entered a very depressed, downward spiral which lead me into a severe state of depression and full blown, almost deadly, anorexia. My biography was becoming my biology and I was not only mentally ill, but I was on the verge of physical incapacitation and death. What I learned from this experience through self evaluation, awareness, and healing was that my anorexia and depression were a result of many years, from childhood to college, that I pushed myself to be the martyr of my family and the perfect child, so afraid to disappoint or fail. I always maintained such control that I finally broke down and my only means of control was through starving myself. I would tell my therapist, “I would never take a gun and kill myself,” but she would tell me, “Mandi, you are again fighting for your strength and not taking a coward’s approach to suicide, rather you are killing yourself the longest and most grueling way through starvation.” I was hopeless, but I took responsibility and brought my wounds to the surface to begin my path toward healing. It was unattractive, I got worse before I got better, but in the end, I truly did heal that aspect of my life.
In addition to my mother’s death, my anorexia, and my depression, I have often felt guilt for many decisions I have made and actions that I have taken throughout my life. I am most certain that my father, sisters, and friends have also experienced feelings of guilt for some of their choices and actions. This guilt, or wound, is lack of forgiveness, not only of ourselves, but our forgiveness of others and their forgiveness of us. Please let me share another experience of mine; forgiveness and healing of self guilt..
Every year my father and I attend High Holiday services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a tradition that we did with my mom when she was still living and one that we carry on now that she has passed. Do we do this for religious reasons? Honestly, I do not believe so. I have never been a very religious person. Even during my years of childhood into adolescence, my family enjoyed sharing in the Jewish traditions passed down from their grandmothers and grandfathers to my grandmothers and grandfathers and so on, but I do not regard myself as being religious. Rather I consider myself to be spiritual and passionate about various beliefs, cultures, and religions. In fact, I have often felt more of an obligation to attend services as to not disappoint my mother, my father, and the tradition that has been bestowed upon me. Last year however, I distanced myself from my father in order to identify my wounds, unleash my skeletons, and work on healing and cleansing myself, I recall my dad reaching out to me several months after we had distanced ourselves from each other. At the time of our separation from talking and seeing one another, I had extreme anger, resentment, and perhaps even an intimacy with my wounds from childhood up until the present time of not speaking with the most important man in my life, my father. I also felt guilt for my actions and even what I was beginning to realize was a necessary separation.
My father reached out to me via a telephone message a week before Rosh Hashana that year, suggesting that we try to start a New Year being that the Jewish New Year was approaching. I was touched that he called, but wanted to begin a healthy relationship again with my father not because it happened to be the Jewish New Year, but rather because he truly wanted to reacquaint himself with his daughter without any external triggers, obligations, or guilt. Little did he know that during our separation, I had embarked on a transformation towards healing myself, forgiving myself and my loved ones, and stepping away from my common language of woundology. I had only hoped that during this time he too began to re-evaluate and identify his own wounds. I chose not to respond immediately to my dad’s request. Rather, I wrote him my feelings in a letter which ultimately led to our reunion a few weeks later knowing that I felt strong and empowered by my newly discovered, healthy, and guilt free biography and biology.
Just the other day, one year later, my father and I welcomed in the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement and Remembrance, reacquainting ourselves with our family traditions and our memories of my wonderful mother. Again, I followed in the Babkes custom of attending services, but I did allow the guilt or pressure to attend all of the services hold me captive. I again reflected upon, as I do every year at services but also most days of my existence, my life, (the positives and negatives), my wounds, new, old, and now non-existant, my relationships, my health, and my outlook on my future. I came across this excerpt from a piece expressing the meaning of sin and forgiveness on Yom Kippur. It depicts that “sin” in Hebrew really suggests, “a failure of honest self expression.” The idea that the past is the past and can’t be relived is mentioned on Yom Kippur, but it is also stated that we can make positive and healthy changes, begin to forgive, and focus our energies away from woundology and towards health and healing. How poignant is the excerpt below.
“When we take responsibility for our actions and for the direction that our lives have taken, (even when our decisions were colored by other people or external factors), we can begin to move forward. As long as we deny where we stand today, we will find that we are still there tomorrow.”
Through each day, we can become more accepting and forgiving of ourselves and our wounds. We can take the necessary steps to achieve and maintain a positive state of health and well-being. I often wonder what my life would be like had I not gone through all of my trials and tribulations. I ponder who I would be if I did not choose to reflect and forgive on so many occasions and how my relationships with others would also be. A victim of circumstances, many within my control and many out of my control, I have learned that we, as human being, have the power to overcome our wound suppression and frolic in the beauty of life and wellness. We are in control of our biology; our existence and state of health and well-being. We truly are the authors of our unique and brilliant biographies.