I believe that loving ourselves is the first step to healing and achieving wholeness. Yet sometimes the burdens from an illness can send us into a downward spiral . If we can find a place within ourselves that we can love-no matter what the challenges of the illness-healing and recognizing Wholeness can begin to blossom within us.
The end was the beginning:
Once a successful nurse and health administrator had 3 major challenges happen all at the same time:
*She got the diagnosis of Amylateral Sclerosis(ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease which is a severe and chronic illness.
*Her home was burglarized.
*She lost her job.
Her doctors told her she less than a year to live. Within a few months she was in a wheel chair; barely able to move. Waiting for death- just sitting in her chair she realized that she did not want to die before she experienced unconditional love.
Instead of making funeral arrangements:
But she hated herself, her body and inside she felt mean and critical of those around her. Somehow she understood that unconditional love was not possible with so much self hatred. She began a daily practice of looking at herself in the mirror-no clothes- on just sitting and staring at her sagging body that could no longer support her.
Writing It All Down
At first she wrote down every negative thought she had about herself, and her failing body. It was a shock to discover that she had no loving thoughts left at all. She stared at herself day after day until that moment when she found one thing about herself that was acceptable. With that she began to rewrite her negative thoughts into positive statement about herself. As she reached a point of complete self acceptance with her imminent death a shift began to occur. As she learned to love herself …..her body began to heal…
From getting to giving:
She stopped expecting something in return for any of her actions. She began giving to those around here without trying to impress anyone. Each night before sleep she would evaluate her day and ask had she been of service to anyone? Had she been loving? Slowly this practice began to transform her body.
Forgiveness replaced resentment:
She realized that the only person resentment over past actions was hurting was….herself.
Self-hatred became self-acceptance and then unconditional self love:
Her lifelong disapproval of her own appearance was a heavy burden. No matter what her body looked like now-she came to understand that the first person to love was herself.
Love had to begin inside her. She made the decision to learn to love herself and her body before she died. It was not easy but she began to say out loud. “I love you” Over time her affection and self acceptance became very real.
For the first time in her life she began to know complete contentment and love for herself that grew and blossomed. Soon she was able to begin sincerely loving those around her with no expectations of anything coming back. As those around her experienced her change they began to love her and she grew to easily accept their love for her.
From escape with death to accepting life exactly as it is:
She realized that she had felt quite dissatisfied with her job and wanted to quit anyway. She now could look at her entire past and understand that other choices had always been available to her.
Celebrating being alive every minute:
As she continued with her mirror; she awakened to the idea of celebrating every moment that she was alive-instead of planning her death.
Sharing inner feelings and hurtful emotions is how to let go of them:
Anger, resentment, disappointment such painful emotions were difficult to identify at first. As she began sharing openly what was really going on inside her she realized these old hurt feelings were no longer serving her and they began to disappear. Instead of avoiding closeness and intimacy she opened herself to love. With this shift opening her heart to emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical love brought her the true experience of unconditional love.
So what happened?
As this woman-let go of her past hurts, inner pain and resentment she was able to accept her self just the way she was. She opened to love in every remaining moment of her life. Her body slowly restored itself and she was able to walk again, resume work and begin a new career. Evy McDonald has now been in remission for 34 years.
This is a true story of a courageous woman who recovered her own wholeness and healed herself by discovering her ability to love. You can read more about Evy's story in the references below.
For those who are close to death opening to love may not change the time of their passing-but it can lead to a more peaceful acceptance of what is meant to be. Opening to love can bring ease, healing and positive change and of course opening to love always brings well-more love.
I enjoy hearing about your healing adventures and respond to all communications so let me hear from you by posting your comments or emailing me direct.
1.Evelyn R. McDonald, M.S., Sue A. Wiedenfeld, Ph.D., et. al., “Survival in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: The Role of Psychological Factors,” Archives of Neurology, Vol. 51, January 1994.
2. Evy McDonald, R.N., M.S., M.Div., “Another Perspective of ALS,” Holistic Medicine, March/April 1988. http://www.ahha.org/articles.asp?Id=55.
August 9, 2014 Oakland California