Updated: Oct 31, 2021
In this Healing Chronic Illness blog series, author, Gupta Program Coach and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome survivor Jen Evans shares insights from the recovery journey
The longest running obstacle in my life would seem to have been recurrent illness. From birth I experienced ill health, weaknesses, irregularities. When I became an adult with constant illness, IBS, anxiety, acid reflux and insomnia, it was the symptoms themselves that seemed like the obstacle to my happiness.
I just kept thinking, “When I find a way to cure x, I will live a better life...” When serious life-altering illness descended, physical sickness seemed like the real problem, nothing else.
But now I know something very different. Illness is what's on the surface. The cause of the dis-ease was (broadly) in my emotional world, just as most spiritual teachings, evolved practitioners and books I'd been engaging with were all saying. As much as I believed them theoretically, my attention always returned to the illness and how to manage it, how to deal with each symptom specifically, how to ‘work it out’.
It was not until I surrendered to the truth that things started to change.
The longest running obstacle in my life has not been illness - it has been the lack of connection to, and honouring of, my true self.
The True Self - also known as real self, authentic self, higher self etc - is a tricky concept to pin down. Some of the words I have heard to describe this elusive natural state (buried underneath the layers of ego-self and protective parts that have developed to keep us safe and give us a sense of identity and worth), include: true aliveness, spontaneous authentic experience, pure love, freedom, alignment, following passion and purpose, truth, creativity, living in the true identity of the present moment, compassion, and an understanding of oneness.
I have spiralled through 1000s of intellectual ‘reasons’ and insights into what is at the root of the physical symptoms and emotional disturbances I continually faced, but when I zoom out, the root is always the same: a lack of connection to, and honouring of, my true self.
The true self speaks to us continually through intuition, through sensations of alignment and resonance, of excitement and deep grounded peace. How trained we have become to ignore that voice, to deny it, to even fear and criticise it, is directly linked to how much dis-ease and challenge we experience in this life.
The list of things I thought I was dealing with to clear the path to greater wellness was long and included:
A lack of boundaries
Lack of self love and respect
Fear to make my own choices
Fear of confrontation and expressing my truth
Overworking and overdoing
Holding on to resentment and anger
Desperation to be seen and heard
Highly sensitive nature
Lack of inner resources to deal with difficult life situations
Lack of support from people in my life
Fear of expressing my sexuality
Trying to save and fix others
But at base, all of these are the same thing - all of these point towards one glaring lack - the lack of connection to my true self - my highest self, my wise guide, my intuition, my passion and purpose in life, my interests and innate skills.
I had used all of my energy and talent to please, appease, achieve and avoid painful criticism. There was no space left to pause and listen to what my true self really wanted. I lived in survival mode, constantly fearing attack and criticism - something I experienced constantly in childhood and then in a codependent adult relationship with a narcissist parent - so all of my focus and energy was spent on defending and grasping for a sense of worth from outside of myself.
I had no idea that everything I had ever been desperate for, had lacked and grieved with anger and defeat throughout life, was already accessible to me. I had to suffer and meet crises over and over again. I had to realise that none of my old strategies worked to rise from the suffering. I had to surrender to the messages within the symptoms and take responsibility. I had to develop the courage to release the old beliefs and stored pain, and move through it to the truth. The truth of me. The true self.
By giving everyone else everything I had (whether they wanted it or not!), I left myself completely divorced from my own needs, desires and inner knowing. I gave out to receive safety, identity and a sense of worth and selfhood, but actually all I got back in return was illness, exhaustion, defeat and despair.
So the answer to healing? In a nutshell:
Take the journey back to your true self.
Go through the layers.
Meet the parts of your ego that are trying to protect you from old wounds with compassion and thanks.
Process all the emotion stored in those layers.
Gain self awareness of how this loss of the true self has manifested for you.
Learn new skills; re-parent the inner hurt parts of you.
Reach out for support from professionals and people who understand.
Read the books from others who have walked this path, to inspire you how
Learn to say no to what you don’t want and yes to what you do want.
Express yourself in the ways you have always dreamed of, whatever form that takes.
There is no magic pill or shortcut. Your healing journey is one of returning to your truth, your truest self. The destination is already there, have fun learning to read the map that will guide you home.
For more on how I took actual steps to connect with my true self, and live in alignment with my passion, see my next blog.