I’m noticing a diametric quality about two of the most prevalent health challenges of modern times; a polarised realtionship between fibromyalgia and the cancer that my close friend is in the process of healing in ways that are enhancing my understanding of both. Her remarkable transformation of this classically “hard” thing relies on her remaining soft, fluid and undefined (keeping her mind out of the hard details of her diagnosis), allowing her cells to feel supported in breaking down the hard “candy” walls that have formed liked bastions of energy inside her. In contrast, my health challenges arrive already so soft, intangible, elusive, so very hard to pin down but oh-how so undeniably there that I struggle to give them the form that I sense I must, since that is what they repeatedly ask of me. Neither of these approaches is wrong and its where they meet in the middle that I am gaining the most powerful new insight.
Its as though cancer is a surplus of yang energy built up behind hard fortress walls, territorial in its impulses and yet, in order to heal, it is asking for those walls to be broken down and to be shown back to the light. Of course, there is great fear in that and it needs to be talked down from its wall with a great deal of love and tenderness, not the kind of classic cancer “fight” that walls it up even further. Fibroylagia, on the other hand, is decidedly yin in its approach; wanting so desperately to be allowed in and to be given the form and substance that it lacks, it both uses its playful flux, elusiveness and invisibility as its most powerful skillset and yet(!) its biggest wound of all is not being seen or made space for; it longs to be included and to meet all the substance that yang gets to play with.
One holes itself up in a territorial way, the other moves around so quickly you can’t keep apace with its manifestations; first one symptom then the next, scorning attempts to diagnosis it. People think they know all about cancer and they take the hard-line with it, wanting to “kick its ass” and “win the war against it” (my friend has turned all that on its head) but most people deny fibromyalgia’s very existence. Calling it an illness of the head, they turn away from it or, at best, seek (and fail) to nail it into the same parameters as other illnesses that they think they know better, never seeming to grasp that its raison d’être is to deny such hard definition and keep shifting those parameters around. Until we start to look at our most chronic health challenges through this broader spectrum, we are left chasing out tails around in circles; which is, perhaps, the belly laugh of a universe whose primary impulse it is to get things into better balance; a yin and yang marriage of both these qualities at the cellular level.
The symptoms known only to me, that are my only “evidence” of fibromyagia, occur whenever they choose, eluding and scrambling every kind of predictor that I’ve tried to throw at them like an expert encryption device. Their arrival is like a seeping mist, weaving around my ankles, rising like the flick of a torch flame up the spine, enveloping me so quickly in widespread pain that I’m taken off-guard, pulled down and deep so fast that its like being bundled into sack and stolen from my own life for just as long as it desires to take me hostage. Over the years, I’ve followed the growing instinct to vocalise what I experience in my body in order to give it the ransom that it wants….its voice; and not in a way that feels like I am being forced but, rather, loving towards this thing, recognising what feels most abandoned about it. This thing has remained mute for far too long…I sense that above all things…and whilst Ive come to recognise the thin line between “voice” and throwing wood on its bonfire, I know that helping it to find its edges, its form, its expression is what this thing most asks of me in a way that feels like divine collaboration. To suppress it is to perpetuate its wound, to become complicit in its harms, like those who avert eyes or say nothing when an abuse is taking place. I need to see it, track it, hear its subtle intonations, notice its difficult patterns, it complexities, those things it reacts most to; to strive to make sense of what struggles to know itself without this interface of ME as its platform of both experience and expression. There’s no doubt in my mind, it’s the yin coming in – this is the feminine arriving on a wave – and she will be mute and formless no more; not through me and those like me who are sensing her arrival as a visceral thing. Yet her real power moment is when her “foreign” wave (or so things have been made to seem during her exile…) gets to meet the yang sat on his porch keeping guard over his well-mown turf; its that interplay of two impulses that plays out in the body and they both have something huge to gain from the dialogue.
This is her modality – waves that come in; and I’ve long traced that pattern with the cosmic waves that serve as my trigger more overtly than anything else – like now, as the sun grows new sunspots in spite of the solar demise. When this happens, its like an off-planet infusion (the word my friend uses for her chemo treatments) of something unseeable that sets off my most acute symptoms though I might have been on top of the world in the days before. When my friend reported her first symptoms of chemo discomfort, they were a remarkably close match with what I have so-long experienced during flares, when solar conditions have provoked my body into toxic response, into nerve overwhelm, dead-leggedness and brittleness yet she has had a remarkably smooth run into those treatments with hardly any symptoms; through her own allowance of what those infusions are all about (you can see her video here). She has taught me such a lot in how she has responded, with acceptance and love, to what she knew and understood was coming into her body to aid her in her healing. If these waves of symptoms have been my version of chemo, effecting cellular transformation just as she envisions her infusions transforming hers, allowing them to do their best work by appreciating them and seeing them for what they were created by scientists to do, then no less can I appreciate what the cosmos has in mind for me, allowing the most positive interpretation of my symptoms that I can muster. I’ve learned that, when I allow that all is well, that however much I hurt (and oh, I hurt right now…) it’s happening for me, not to me and that, by inviting, allowing and trusting what might otherwise feel so frightening, I open to its highest gifts and so it gets easier…just a little easier, by degrees.
I also notice that as this yin comes in, it’s the answering call of the opposite – the male aspect or the yang – that rises up in my cells, my thoughts and my very impulses. All the subconscious cellular defences come up; the resistance, the hard-line responses, the adrenalin, the acid flood into cells lest a predator should be about to eat me, all adding to the pain. Up into my mind and my very impulses rise the need to analyse, to make sense in a scientific way, to innovate, conquer and to white-knuckle grip to the structure of everything I think I know. I turn myself OCD over the slightest things, through the compulsive use of the very technology that provokes me the most; its like I can’t put it down, can’t put anything down once I have my hand on it, even as these waves urge me to go softer, looser, more adaptably and let all concepts of what I think I know or have to do slip away. The more it comes, the more I grip grip grip to my very humanness, my patterns, my knowable and my routine. In fact its all about possession…what I think I have, including knowledge…only to learn I have nothing at all when the chips are really down. Then, only when I agree to let it all go does my body seem to take that first gulp of life in the midst of its death throes; like a truce at the eleventh hour, everything calms down once I sign that treaty of the yin and the yang; played out through me…as me.
And THEN I get the insights; start to understand the patterns and themes that underlie all the experiences of my body, as new definition starts to emerge from the primal sludge of my experience. This new kind of form, rising out of the amorphous, has provided the very signposts and road edges of my entire healing journey to date and has delivered such a vast understanding of “who I am” and what this is all about that, in my own way, I have far more awareness of a design underlying everything, you could call it a divine blueprint, than I ever had before (just not the same man-made structure I thought that life was pinned to when this whole experience started). Its not that there are no edges; its that those edges rely upon their most receptive interface with the edgeless and it is this constant interplay that underpins our very (healthiest) existence at all levels of our experience, from the cellular to the global.
It’s a “lesson” that is going to keep playing until I get it so well that I know the routine is to have no routine at all. But also to express…to allow myself to express freely at these times; without guilt or the self-despising tendencies that still come up in me when I speak of “symptoms”, or the fear of being marginalised as the crazy bore who talks endlessly about hypochondriac nonsense, of being judged or rejected for mentioning stuff that no one wants to hear. I’m giving voice to the yin at these times, not by ramming it down people’s throats but like this, in the most fluid of ways, allowing its impulse to borrow my fingers to type what sounds very abstract yet which (I know) is so very real in its own way…a whole new form of “realness” that is softer by far than anything we have ever given expression to before. Appreciating this flags up that – as ever – there is no golden bullet for all healing; some kinds of healing will do better through expresssion and other ways of allowing what is so elusive to come into form, others (like my friend’s) through seeking absolute softness and by melting all hard diagnosis away. When we realise there is a a yin and yang to healing and that these are entirely complementary (and intuitive to us, when we listen to our bodies), we will start to make some serious headway in our modalities without needing to make any approach “wrong”.
My primary experience seems to be with this soft-fluid aspect that seems to want to find its expression within and via my physical form and there are ways that I can help it, in addition to keeping my own reactions soft and unreactionary as it communicates through my body (in other words, like my friend during her infusions, I get out of its way). Art, music and laughter are some of its classic modalities (all very helpful to me at these times) and all driven by something fluid asking to be given form through the ultimate medium of us in our humanness. And now, of all times, I sense the asking is becoming more urgent and demanding….requiring of us that we express this aspect through our cells, our technology, our politics, our very life-choices; everything that is tangible in this world, as the floodgates to yin start to open and (no less) the fortress walls of yang start dissolving away. As this overwhelming impulse towards hemispherical union realises itself into my reality from the cells outwards, so it marries into all of our realities just as soon as we welcome it in, offering expression and divinest form (no need for more fortress walls…) to what has been silenced, denied, excluded and despised in us all for so very long.