“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”― C.S. Lewis
I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling, but it was distressing. As time went on, it didn’t get any better. It was a difficult decision but I decided to spend a night in the Emergency Room.
The doctor kept telling me that I was getting air, but my chest felt as it was in a vice grip and someone was tightening it over and over again. Fear forced me into further feeling breathless.
Eventually, it was resolved and I went home to recover. The feeling returned, but I started to recognize that it was more than what I originally thought. I started to think it might be anxiety and maybe I was having more of a panic attack.
I started to explore my emotions and I did some research about emotions and organs. It became immediately clear to me that this was more than just about being sick, but also about suppressing emotions.
Of course, whether you believe it or not, depends on your own belief, but the connection was undeniable to me when I looked at the circumstances that preceded my bouts of illness.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that unresolved emotions become trapped in organs throughout the body and if not released eventually will manifest into symptoms of illness.
E-motion is energy in motion. When you stop the flow, it isn’t serving it’s intended purpose.
One could say illness is way to call attention to emotions which are being suppressed and lie beneath awareness.
Asthma and shortness of breath are symptoms of the Lung and according to Chinese Medicine, the lung stores grief, sadness and depression.
I would say my whole life I have experienced moments of grief since I was a child. I lost my Grandmother before I even had the awareness of what death was. And, it wasn’t explained to me nor was I taught how to process my grief. Everyone else just were sad for a day and then seemed to move on with life. No one talked about it. So, I pushed those feelings away and moved on with life like the adults did.
Last year, while it was a year where I did a lot of personal growth, I also experienced a great deal of grief. I suddenly lost a couple people. And, the nature of doing emotional growth is to resurrect a host of buried emotions. As I confronted and gained awareness that many things were not the way I saw them as a child or a young adult, I felt grief for the way I thought my life was vs the reality that I had experienced. I don’t think I dealt with it well because I couldn’t wallow in it. I still have to get up every day and do my job of living.
When I woke up that night, I think all the grief that I had pushed down was attempting to get my attention. And, the fear of dying definitely got my attention.
Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”― Leo Tolstoy
Another connection I made was between kidneys and fear. We’ve all seen a movie where someone is terrified and then the camera flashes to them urinating involuntarily. The kidneys effectively clean what will eventually pass through the bladder. If the kidneys don’t function, then the bladder can’t do its job and all urinating stops while the impurities become trapped in the blood which causes serious complications. It’s called Uremia.
How do I know this? Because I was in the hospital with it several years ago.
I passed out and was taken to the hospital where they discovered that my kidneys were failing and quickly put me on caustic medication to clear my blood of impurities. Thankfully, my kidneys were jump started and I haven’t had a problem since. I might possibly have 9 lives or just really diligent angels.
What was happening in my life at that time prior to this bout of illness?
I was living in fear on a daily basis. My relationship had fallen apart after I agreed to move in with my boyfriend and allow him to pay the rent while I tried to start my own business. I had supported both of us while he was out of work following an injury. And, he convinced me that it was his turn to support me while I was experiencing unemployment and we decided it was a great time for me to focus on my business without the worry of paying the bills.
He did it for a couple months and then everything fell apart. I discovered his infidelity and then he decided the best thing for him to do was to move out. This meant, I was left in the apartment with no income. I began scrambling to either generate work through my business or find work. But, the money continued to dwindle and the question of how the bills and the rent would get paid loomed over my head. Not only that, I had to buy food.
I made it a couple months, but then everything dried up. I lived in fear every single day trying to think myself out of the situation. I found ways to get the things I needed. And, my health took a backseat to stress and worry. I eventually managed to write, finish and publish the book I was working on. The building I was living in was sold and my relationship with the new owners was not harmonious. Every day felt like I was teetering on the edge of disaster. And, based on my kidney function, the damage was done.
Now, looking back, I should have gotten out of that situation long before I did, but my kidneys drew my attention and forced me to save myself. While in the hospital, all I could think about was my mortality. Because in the grand scheme of things, a place to live means nothing if you die. And, when I left the hospital with a renewed sense of taking care of my health, I was ready to let go of anything that didn’t serve me.
And, then there was the Anger…
“Your body would not get sick if you held no thought of resentment. It is neither good nor bad of itself. If we hold anything against anyone, we will suffer ourselves.”― Donna Goddard, Waldmeer
I have many reasons to be angry. I could probably make a lengthy list and if someone read it, they would think they were valid. However, I was holding on to my rage as if it was the consolation prize for maintaining relationships and situations that I should have let go off.
I had resentment boiling in my blood for, probably, decades. It lived right beneath the surface. I used to let it boil over and explode from time-to-time, but in my older age, I got even better at not even tapping into it at all. I pretended it didn’t exist and I had evolved past feeling anything about anything even when it was devastatingly cruel betrayal.
But, that Monster was still there. And, guess where Anger and Resentment live.
The Liver holds onto the anger, resentment and stress. And, it can show in high blood pressure (which I now have), headaches, dizziness and pain in ribs.
Ever since my twenties, my every weekend after an arduous week of work was spent getting drinks with friends. A hard night would find me having a drink after work to calm my nerves. And, family occasions, the drinks flowed and were necessary.
Now, I realize that what I was doing was numbing that Monster of rage and resentment that was making his comfortable home in my Liver. I have been fortunate that I haven’t seen the signs of all the damage I have done so far, but I know that if I don’t deal with that rage that eventually it will deal with me. So the Monster is on my list to sit down and have a little introduction so we can figure out what he needs to move on and let my liver be it’s true healthy self.
Now, this doesn’t mean that instead of making a doctor’s appointment when you are sick or going to the hospital that you should just write in your journal about your feelings.
Once it manifests on the outside, it has to also be dealt with on the outside. You should receive whatever is the necessary treatment. But, once it is under control or on the mend, the next step can be to look inside and figure out what it was trying to tell you.
Emotions are the indicators of what is going on within you. The doctors can’t look inside without opening you up. You can go inside, but it also requires opening up but it’s less invasive.
“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”― Herophilus