I used to be sick. Really, really sick. I was so sick, in fact, that sickness was all I knew. Sickness was my life.
One of my earliest childhood memories is of lying in bed with a fever. My mother is hovering over me, holding pills and orange juice, a concerned look on her face. I have just returned from the doctor’s office. Yet again. All my friends are at school, and I am missing it. I am always missing it.
Indeed, doctor’s offices, hospitals, waiting rooms, and cold, sterile medical facilities were the norm of my everyday life growing up. I was always in danger of being held back at school because of so many absences. Whole years became a blur of prescription bottles, shots, inhalers. The doctors were as mystified as I was. Life was awful.
There was not only physical illness throughout my youth, but also emotional and sexual abuse. Certain members of my biological family were quite lost: lost in conditioned patterns of fear, neglect, and outright violence. They unwittingly repeated to me what their parents had done to them. The nasty cycle continued. I had no idea, until years later, that my brain was being wired into a state of constant anxiety and panic. (Years later, a helpful counselor diagnosed me with Complex-PTSD.) I was abused by others, and then my own brain began to abuse me. My own brain became my enemy.
At age twenty-five, my body felt utterly broken. I felt like I was one hundred years old. I felt so tired. There was no cure or relief in sight. Yet, somehow, I entered graduate school. I may have been sick, but I was still mentally determined. I had a strong will and an insatiable work ethic. My goal was to become a professor of English. I had always admired the English teachers in my life: to me, they were these living beacons of hope and wit. I wanted to be like them. Despite my flagging body and the emotional chaos within, I entered grad school, thinking, “I can do this.”
I worked hard. I worked so hard, in fact, that by the time I was midway through a PhD program, I was nearly completely burnt out. I had developed a severe form of adrenal fatigue syndrome, among other chronic illnesses, including migraines, chronic sinus infections, severe food allergies, and leaky gut syndrome.
Although I had published more articles and presented at more professional conferences than any of the other students in my doctoral cohort, I was not able to enjoy any feelings of professional success. I was ready to give up. Suicidal fantasies bombarded my brain every morning, as I struggled to lift my aching body out of bed. I was sicker than ever. I was drinking nearly a gallon of coffee every day, just to get through the day. I was shoveling sugar, breads, and other “quick energy” foods into my mouth so as to not fall asleep at my desk.
I almost dropped out of school. One day, I called my dissertation advisor on the phone. My fever was raging at 103 degrees and I had just had an allergic reaction (yet again) to what was probably the tenth round of antibiotics that year. I remember the tears and the feeling of defeat. I sobbed into the phone: “I just can’t do it anymore.”
Somehow, she convinced me not to quit. A few weeks later, though, I remember talking to my husband about wanting to die. I simply couldn’t take it anymore. Each day was too much effort. Each day was a little bit worse than the day before. Nothing held hope; nothing held light.
One day, during an afternoon seminar, one of my favorite professors, Sue, notices me holding my throbbing head in my hands. She softly touches my shoulder. She says: “Would you like a free massage gift certificate? I have an extra one. Maybe a massage might help with your headache?” I smile, thank her, touched by her generosity. She hugs me. There is kindness in her eyes.
A few weeks later, I find myself on the table of a particularly gifted massage therapist. As lovely Anna works with me, kneading and releasing my sore tense muscles, she gently inquires if I’ve ever heard of Reiki. Just hearing the word, Reiki, ignites a feeling of excitement. There is a little zing in my spine, a little burst of energy. She then refers me to a Reiki Master who works in the same studio.
About a week later, a beautiful Reiki Master named Barb Hay places her hands on the crown of my head. There is soft music playing. The springtime trees are blossoming, wafting their soothing smells through the two-story window.
Almost immediately, I feel strange sensations pulsing from her hands into my body. Her hands are hot—like an oven!—and my skin below her hands is tingling. As she moves her hands from my crown to my forehead, and then down to my chin, I begin to wonder how all of this is possible. How is there such a great amount of heat if her hands are resting still on my skin? How is there such vibration? What is happening? What kind of crazy magic is this?
A few minutes into the session, I begin to lose control. My body begins to twitch. My arms, legs, and head are thrashing, jerking about. My breath is coming deep and fast, and there are moans and sighs. I begin to breathe out what feels like nasty toxic sludge. As I breathe, I suddenly realize all that I have carried, since childhood. In this moment, I realize how truly sick I have been.
I begin to cry. Barb asks me if I am okay. I say “I am okay, please continue.” I am somehow aware that the best thing that I can do right now is not to think. The best thing that I can do to heal is to trust and to simply experience exactly what is happening even though I can’t logically understand it. And I can quite literally feel the love pouring from Barb’s hands. Her heart is speaking to my heart, without words. Her heart is gently whispering: You are well. You are home.
After about an hour, I sit up and rub my eyes. I swing my legs off the side of the table, and turn toward Barb, who is now seated in a chair across from me. Her eyes are wide and sparkling. There is a smile upon her face.
“What just happened?” I ask.
“I will teach you,” she says.
Fast forward six years. I am now a Reiki Master, carrying on in the footsteps of my beloved teacher Barb. These days, there is more light than darkness. These days there is more joy than grief.
I am still healing, too. Even with all the miraculous changes in my body, mind, emotions, and spirit, I still get triggered some days into anxiety and anger.
As I work with people who are waking up, I notice I have a lot of gratitude for the darkness. And I remember the deepest of truths: that I chose to incarnate onto this planet into the specific family, time and place that I did. Nothing was by chance. All of it, my whole story, including the darkness and the sickness, was my soul’s desire.
In order to be able to help others, I needed to get lost in the darkness for a while. I needed to have that experience, so that I could empathize with others. I needed to understand illness and trauma not from a merely conceptual point of view—but I needed to live it.
I chose to have the circumstances that would shape me into who I am today. A healer. A teacher. These choices were made by my soul before birth. In truth, we all are given these choices.
Thus, understanding and integrating this knowledge means we can release victim-consciousnss. When we can view every circumstance of our life as a divinely-orchestrated moment of profound perfection, we shed the darkness of victimhood and step into the Light.
Hopefully, by my telling you the story of my own life and past darkness, you will begin to feel clearer and more confident about your own journey. About your own life purpose.
Through your own healing journey, you guide yourself out of the darkness. You love yourself, into the light.
My story is the story of a Reiki Master. It’s a particular story. And there are so many stories.
So…what’s your story?