Scoliosis – Repressing Negative Emotions June is Scoliosis Awareness Month - Continuing my series on scoliosis

At age 17 the doctor told me that except for surgery, nothing else could be done for my scoliosis. It was devastating. All my hopes were shattered. How could God be so cruel? My hope of getting away from my abusive father and the reality of my existence was soul crushing. I was overcome with depression at the thought of being consigned to living hell for the rest of my days.

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Searching For Answers

Suicide seemed the only option. However, I didn’t have the guts to follow through or was it my innate stubbornness to fight back. Perversely, my thinking was any way we are all going to die someday, if not sooner then later. So let me go out fighting the damn thing.

Thus, I set about finding what scoliosis was and how did I get it. I just could not accept the doctors’ glib answer that no one knows the cause of idiopathic scoliosis.

Moreover, as far as I remember I did not have a major accident. I had been a fairly healthy and active girl until 13 years of age.

So how did my spine just go all wonky and fuck up my entire body structure? There has to be some reason.

Louise Hay Shows The Way

I chanced upon Louise Hay’s book, ‘You Can Heal Your Body‘, it had the answers to my questions. In that tiny book, she lists the root causes of nearly all illnesses. How our emotions and mental thoughts affect our bodies. It was the validation I needed to pursue on this path of healing.

The book has a complete chart of the spine listing the emotions that cause misalignments in each spinal disc. And, according to my experiences, it is a fairly accurate diagnosis. Sexual abuse, lack of support, unable to express my feelings, feeling unsupported. I felt validated that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were the reasons for my scoliosis.

 Dr. John Sarno And Suppressing Rage

Further, according to the noted  Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, the late Dr. John Sarno, virtually all lower back pain is caused not by structural abnormalities but by repressed rage.

I know that this is true in my case, I had to suppress my feelings of anger, helplessness, wanting to hit out, scream. If I did any of these things I would be further attacked physically and emotionally.

I now recollect the feelings of grief, sadness, anger, rage, and despair which were beginning to overwhelm me. I thought I would go mad having to deal with all the shit that was happening to me, particularly when I was 12 years. And there was no one to confide and get a perspective about my abusive reality.

I started experiencing severe back pain. Since there was no one to talk to I tried to be strong and get along.  If at that time I could express what I was going through, my pain would not have progressed to degenerative scoliosis.

Dr. Sarno coined the term TMS—”Tension Myositis Syndrome”—to describe this “psychophysiological” condition. The brain, he says, mildly oxygen-deprives our back muscles and certain nerves and tendons to distract us and prevent our repressed anger from lashing out.

Dr. Sarno believes that to protect you from acting on—or being destroyed by—that rage, your unconscious mind distracts you from the anger by creating a socially acceptable malaise: lower back pain.

Uncovering Our Hidden Traumas

Most of my traumatic memories remained repressed in my unconscious. I did have a vague memory of sexual abuse but it did seem unreal. Only after I had a breakdown and regressed at age 29 did my memories resurface.

Unfortunately, at that time I did not have the resources, knowledge or help to understand and overcome my trauma history,

The past two years have been devoted to my healing.

Donna Jackson Nakazawa in her book How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal shows the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), ‘Many people with ACEs have never had their pain validated. And understanding that there exists a biological connection between what they experienced in childhood, and the physical and mental health issues they face now, can help set them on a healing path, one where they begin to find new ways to take care of themselves, and being new healing modalities.”

 Learning To Stand Up For Ourselves

The first most important step to healing is to start standing up for our wants and needs. I remember just at the start of my healing journey, my son refused to do something which he promised to do. I just blasted him like he had never experienced me like ever before. It stunned and shocked him. But as I released my rage, I felt as though some current going up my spine around the heart area. It was as if my heart could feel again ‘even if it meant feeling pain.’

The anger and rage that I had suppressed for years began to be released. Not surprisingly, my feelings which were numbed slowly began thawing. Along with the negative feelings, I could feel positive emotions like joy and pleasure.

After that, there were many times my repressed emotions erupted. And, it felt such a relief. The energy trapped during my traumatic childhood was expressed and released, ultimately resolving itself.

Emerging New Self

As I slowly, began expressing my feelings, I gradually felt my sense of self that was damaged by the trauma growing up. My inner child was being healed.

No longer do I shut up when something bothers me, if I cannot say something, I just move away. I no longer just grin and bear. I have gotten over my feelings of co-dependency and people pleasing.

Healing requires awareness and courage on our part. We need to acknowledge and embrace our pain, whether physical or emotional, to release it.  The wounds of our hearts damage our brains which in turn affects our bodies. We have to journey through the dark night of our soul only then can we be renewed and be made whole.

It may take days, months or years but we need to believe that we will get better.

Notwithstanding, it is the faith of a mustard seed that has kept me on this journey of healing scoliosis.

Further Reading:

How Trauma Affects Risk For Chronic Illness

The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders

Books:

Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal by Donna J.Nakazawa

The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders by Dr. John Sarno

Healing Back Pain by  Dr. John Sarno

Heal Your Body by Louise Hay

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