I have been living with idiopathic scoliosis for nearly 40 years. It probably began soon after my mother died when I was 11 years. Though, the effects only showed up 2 years later. Not surprising, considering the trauma I had to deal with besides the loss of my mother. It was trauma over trauma, that added to my cup of woes. And my body bore the brunt. The body does keep the score.
Sadly, modern medicine still doesn’t acknowledge that the pre-onset conditions in your life could have precipitated your illness.
Even today idiopathic scoliosis is still diagnosed as ’cause unknown.’
What Happened To My Body
When my body began growing lopsided, I was devasted is an understatement. But more than that I was ashamed of my curved spine. I silently bore the pain and hid my distortion knowing what my father was like – a stupid and unreasonable man. I was not wrong. When my father noticed, his reaction was,‘ why can’t you stand straight’ and would try to push me into position like he was a magician.
When I was 17, after over 2 years trying to push me into shape my father finally took me to the doctor. We were told we had come too late. I was done with my growth and nothing could be really done- except maybe surgery. But that was really not discussed and I am glad I did not have scoliosis surgery. I was given a Milwaukee brace, just for what I will never know. It was bulky and uncomfortable. And I was embarrassed wearing it. It was like adding insult to injury.
Slowly, scoliosis invaded my mind, body and my life. You cannot forget it’s presence. How can you, with the constant pain, the body discomfort, and disfigurement? And what’s worse is how people treat you. The secondary wounding further destroys your self-esteem.
Shame Of Scoliosis
Those were the days of the pre-internet, having a hump on your back only meant one thing you were weird, deformed and abnormal. I felt so ugly. Moreover, it did not help my father called me the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, whenever I did not obediently follow up with wearing the unfordable and bulky brace.
I felt like a freak, till I read in a magazine that Isabella Rosellini, also has scoliosis. The relief was immense but it did not answer my question. Why did I get scoliosis?
And so, 40 years later, it is the same story – scoliosis cannot be cured but only managed according to the experts.
But I want to prove them wrong. Idiopathic scoliosis does not just happen, it is caused due to repressed emotions. Growing up in an abusive, negligent and invalidating environment. And I am certain one can heal, once one is able to release the body armor which was protection from the threat of being abused and painful emotional feelings.
Healing Is Feeling the Pain
To really heal you have to feel the pain viscerally. As Arthur Janov, author of Primal Scream explains, you have to have a “primal.”
“To get better we need to take the emotional trip to our history and undo the damage through reliving.”
I became a time-traveler and re-experienced the hurts of the little girl grieving for her mother. It was not easy to stay with the painful feelings of grief, anger, rage, sadness, hopelessness, rejection and all the myriad emotions logged within my mind, body, and soul.
For nearly 3 years I was living in the wounded land of my childhood. It would have been shorter had I not been waylaid by a narcissistic do-gooder friend. She kept triggering back to ground zero. Fortuitously, we had to move far away from her. Without any further hinderances, I could again refocus on my healing.
Janov claims that primal pains are imprinted in the lower brain first then later the limbic system and still later intellectual defenses are formed by the cortex simply because this is the sequence of neurological development.
De-repression and Feeling Grown Up
It takes a long time releasing the stranglehold. of toxic familial ties. Acknowledgment and acceptance of the fact that your family did not care and love you is a painful process. There are many layers one has to unravel. Each level of consciousness is an entity unto itself. One has to de-repress and allow for the blocked pain to release and run through our mind and body.
We have to share our real stories and stop keeping toxic secrets within us. Writing this blog has been cathartic.
Connecting to the original source of pain helps to release and transform it.
Some days, it was difficult to do even simple things like combing my hair. Boy, I am so glad those days are past and my brain is feeling more calmer.
Furthermore, I am feeling more adult-like. Earlier I felt like a 13-year-old trying to navigate the world. It was not easy being emotionally 13 while trying to hold a job, raise a child and deal with the challenges of adulthood.
Re-expression of our pain begins the process of integration of the experience into the personality of the individual and the re-adjustment of our world view.
My right brain is healing and rewiring to a new reality. My old reality of being afraid, ashamed, unworthy, unlovable, not good enough is slowly fading away.
Mirror, Mirror Am I Worthy?
Real healing comes when how we view ourselves in context with the world changes. However, this cannot happen in isolation, we need people to mirror positivity back to us. That we are worthy human beings.
Alice Miller is right on the dot when she states that an ‘enlightened witness’ is critical for our healing. I have been lucky that my son supports me and calls me his ‘supermom’. It is his support both emotional and financial that has played a major role in my healing. The earlier mirroring of being defective and unworthy is replaced with ‘I am amazing.’
My mind is nearly healed and my body is slowly catching up with my new self-image. Releasing long-held body patterns has to happen slowly or else delicate nerves and blood vessels could get damaged.
Nevertheless, I live with hope and faith that my idiopathic scoliosis will be cured.
Image Source: Pixabay
Why You Get Sick, How You Get Well: The Healing Power of Feelings – Dr. Arthur Janov