Waving My White Flag

Being a nun doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Nuns may strive for super human goals, but they’re still made of human flesh. They still experience good days and bad days. If there’s one trait that sets them apart, perhaps it’s their relentless and fierce nature to overcome insurmountable obstacles. They never give up in order to reach that clear light in which to reside. They never give up.

 

A couple weeks ago, I had a bad day. A really really bad day. And it’s surprising (or not) that an onslaught of health problems came for me immediately after that.

 

You may recall my post about having severe abdominal pains. Well, those pains didn’t actually go away and in fact, worsened at some points.

 

It’s hard to describe what I went through. But here is a picture, in fragments.

 

Pain. Unspeakable pain. Pain that contorts your body into an unrecognizable shape and robs you of your breath. Pain that paints your world black and makes everything else cease to matter. Nothing else matters. Nothing else can be seen, heard or felt, except the horrific pain that clenches your every sensation. In this moment of darkness, the only person I beg to see is the person who can relieve me of my suffering, the person who can take this living hell out of my body.

 

When you come out of an experience of intense physical suffering that has been prolonged over the span of weeks, some things are changed forever.

 

The first thing I wrote on my phone afterwards was:

 

To do anything without pain is the greatest blessing. To not be in physical suffering is the greatest blessing. I cannot express how much weight this lesson holds for me. It’s easy to not think about the state of our health and bodies, especially if we are not feeling much of anything at all. But after enduring weeks of pain, going back to physical comfort is such sweet relief. Unparalleled relief.

 

  1. Health care workers. They are angels in the sea of suffering. When I was drowning, no one around me could help, no matter how much they loved me. But in my mind, I knew doctors were the ones who could actually do something and they shown like beacons of brilliant, luminous light. I held immense gratitude for these people that their skills and expertise could alleviate hurt.

 

  1. Emotions affect health. I already talked about this before. But it’s worth repeating. I know my health issues were stemmed directly from the bad day I had. My emotions tend to be very powerful and my body is sensitive, resulting in quick results like this. Positive emotions = good health. Negative emotions = bad health. Mind controls all.

 

  1. Family is everything.

 

I made a wish at the Kaiser pond that if I ever got better, I would come back Version 2.0. 🙂 And I intend to keep my promise. I’m going to live out the lesson I learned.

 

Please do not worry about me at all or ask about what happened. Everything is fine now and I am actually extremely grateful for the lessons I came away with. I believe the entire situation was orchestrated for my advancement, as I feel stronger and better than I ever did. Love you all.

What Dying Taught Me

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I’ve been very blessed to have “died” a number of times in my life. Each time it happened, I would be shocked awake, thinking hard about my life and evaluating whether or not I was living at my best.

Last Thursday, I had 8 hours of abdominal pain that resembled my ruptured appendix. As I lay in the bat tub writhing in pain, I felt for sure that I was dying. The pain was exactly where it had been before, so much so that I could point to its exact location.

 

My first thought was, “Damn. My fortune cookie was right.” (But more on that later.)

I was completely filled with regret.

Now, you must understand that I am a person who strictly abides by a “live life with no regrets” policy. So this strong feeling of regret shocked me. What is it that I regretted? It was just one thing and it was all I could think about.

I regretted not focusing enough on my family.

 

For the last several years, I’d been chasing a dream. And chasing a dream hard. People talk about going after your passion with everything you’ve got and I was doing just that. My dreams held a grip on me that was alluring, enthralling and crazy exciting.

But in the process, I had unintentionally lost sight of my family. I became distracted in home life. Even if I was physically with my kids, my head was often dreaming up something linked to my goals. There were many mornings where I couldn’t wait to finish my chores so I could type things up on my laptop. I thought I was handling both worlds in perfect harmony but in actuality, I was lost in my dreams.

Now, that’s a heavy price to pay and it was made crystal clear when I stared down the barrel of my own mortality.

There is nothing more important than family. There just isn’t.

Now, I still believe in chasing dreams. But my priorities have changed.

Family first. For real this time.

Thank you Death.

And what is it my fortune cookie said?

What is the one thing that rang true more than any other statement I’d ever heard when I was standing on the edge of my life?

This.

 

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Why You Don’t Have to Be Afraid

When I was the most depressed and scared in my life, my body did something interesting. It betrayed itself. After several years of mental torture, an organ in my body finally burst and infected everything, sending me on a path to death. I would’ve died in 1998, had someone not stepped in and intervened.

 

Looking back, I can’t believe something so horrific happened during the period when I was undergoing the most emotional pain I’d ever been in. There was so much stress and depression in my little body that it caused something to physically burst inside. That event pressed upon me a very important lesson: a toxic level of fear and overwhelming sadness can destroy your physical body. Simply put, your mind can kill you.

 

On the other hand, your mind can also save you. When you are happy, strong and full of passion for living (the complete opposite of what I was feeling), you’ll find that you radiate with an incredibly strong energy; as if you have a light shield surrounding you. Nothing can penetrate it. You become healthy, strong and invincible as you go about the world, which is a mere reflection of your inner state. Having a strong mind is essential for a healthy body and it is precisely in this peak state where you are naturally protected from ailments. A strong mind is your greatest friend and ally in a toxic world.

 

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There is a story by Anita Moorjani (author of Dying to Be Me) where she describes living her entire life in fear. She ends up getting stage 4 cancer, battles it for years and finally slips into a coma where she is believed to be at the end of her life. Unbeknownst to anyone though, she is experiencing a near-death experience where she learns from the other side that her overwhelming life of fear led to her demise. All of the negative energies surrounding her life made her body eventually break down. (Sound familiar?). In the end, she returns to her body after the near-death experience with a new understanding that her mind is the most powerful thing she possesses. It can physically alter her biology. Here is an excerpt I found to be important:

 

Pg. 86 Dying to Be Me, Anita Moorjani

 

“I watched as the nurses came in to administer the chemo. They hung the bag of drugs on the IV stand. Each bag, which they were feeding directly into my veins, was labeled “POISON” in huge, red capital letters. The nurses wore masks and latex gloves so that they couldn’t accidentally have contact with any of the dangerous chemicals. Strangely, it seemed that it was acceptable for these drugs to be introduced directly into my bloodstream.

 

I knew I didn’t need the chemo. The doctors were administering it for their own reasons, not mine, for I knew that I was invincible. Nothing could destroy me, not even poison directly into my veins- the very thing I’d feared for so many years! Interestingly, I didn’t suffer from the normal side effects. My medical team was very surprised that I didn’t have the usual nausea associated with the treatment.

 

I felt a level of victory. I’d so completely overcome my fear of everything- from dying to cancer to chemotherapy- that this proved to me that it had been the fear destroying me. I knew full well that if this had been before my experience in the other realm, the very sight of the word poison in giant red letters labeling a drug that was coursing through my veins, coupled with the nurses all wrapped up in protective gear to avoid contamination, would have sent enough fear through me to kill me. The psychological effect alone would have finished me, for I knew how fear-filled I was before.

 

But instead, I felt invincible. I knew that the decision to come back that I’d made on the other side completely overrode anything going on in the physical world.”

 

Anita did not feel fear even with poison “coursing through her veins,” for she had a full understanding within her mind that she would heal.

 

There’s a lot of fearful people right now and I just wanted to help them reclaim their power. Everyone has power in this situation. You have power in this situation. There are things you can control.

 

For situations you can’t avoid, like going to the market, just remember to toughen up your mentality, banish fear and ground your energy. Imagine a light shield all around you, protecting you. Walk as though you’re in a bubble that cannot be penetrated. I promise you, it’s better than running on fear. And I guarantee, you’ll be all the better and stronger for it.

Question: My spouse is too controlling. What do I do?

In all my years of dealing with couples, I know that each relationship typically has one dominant person and one submissive person.

The dominant person could be labeled as controlling (which is more negative), but they could also be labeled as the one who takes charge and makes things happen. They create structure and work hard, almost acting like the “parent” and devoting all their energy into decision-making. At the same time, they probably have a lot of pressure on their hands which seems to exacerbate the controlling-ness.

The submissive one is usually easygoing and relaxed, doing whatever their counterpart wishes. They are good listeners, patient and well-tempered.

When these two sides are balanced, there is harmony and flow; things work to the benefit of both parties. But sometimes, the balance is disrupted. One person becomes too dominant while the other becomes, for lack of a better word, a doormat.

For years, I was a doormat and what happens to doormats? They get trampled on. I was insecure and suffered from feelings of worthlessness, which only allowed for the trampling to happen.

But one day, after I had enough, I knew that I needed to fight back; to stand up for myself and to exert more strength.

 

Beware: the following story is not pretty, and I struggled in sharing it, but my purpose is to draw from real and raw experiences in order to truly help

 

I love my husband (very much). He has a good heart, which is all that really matters to me. But at the same time, he can be rebellious, aggressive and hot-tempered. When we fight, things can get really nasty, really fast. He knows how to provoke me and get right under my skin, causing things to explode.

There was a period of time where every time we fought, he would yell that I was useless to the family, that I contributed nothing and that he was the only one pulling the weight. I was a stay-at-home-mom to two babies and what he said was incredibly hurtful because I poured every ounce of strength I had into our family. I gave my all every day, working tirelessly in love, only to have it go unnoticed and unappreciated.

One day, after he yelled at me once again that I was useless to the family, I told him, “Fine! Then I will really become useless! Starting now, I will not lift a finger or do a single thing!”

He scoffed and said, “Not like it’s going to make a difference anyway!” This angered me even more and I knew I had to stick to my word.

Starting that day, I really neglected my duties. I didn’t clean, I didn’t make his breakfast, snack, fruit and lunch for work, or his dinner at home, I let the dishes fester in the sink, laundry piling, house a mess, and he had to watch the kids after work. I felt so angry for being taken for granted all the time and for all those occasions he called me useless.

By nightfall of the same day, my husband called me, pleading for my help at home. I must admit, my heart strings were tugged, but I didn’t budge. I didn’t cave. It was too soon, and in my heart, I knew that if I went back right away, the same cycle would just repeat itself. So despite my feelings, I stood firm and kept my distance in order to make sure he learned this lesson.

It took about two days before I fully returned to my normal routine at home and before I felt the message had sunk in loud and clear.

From that day onward, my husband never ever uttered those dreadful words to me again.

Sometimes, that’s what it takes to show you can’t be stepped on, to show you can’t be treated a certain way. Stand up. Fight! It may be weird that I’m telling you to fight, given my background. But you wouldn’t want your child to become a doormat, would you? You have to protect yourself and at the same time, set an example for those under your care. You are worth fighting for. Your opinions matter. People can’t treat you that way.

Looking back, I don’t blame my husband one bit for anything that happened.

1). It’s easy to think that stay-at-home-moms don’t do anything (I think the stay-at-home part trips people up). My husband had to actually go through the motions to understand.

And 2). I was the one who allowed him to say those mean things to me time and time again. People will treat you the way you let them. You have to set your own boundaries, bite back when you need to and take action when things are misaligned.

To conclude: when your spouse is too controlling, you need to balance the scale by exerting more strength and dominance.

My Christmas Miracle

When I was 13, an event occurred in my life that changed me considerably.

It all started on a regular Thursday night around Christmas time. I was suddenly struck with a terrible pain in my stomach which rendered me immobile and lasted several days. School was out of the question and I spent my days laying down, unable to do much of anything. When I had to get up, standing up straight was somehow physically impossible. I would clutch my stomach and walk around in agony, completely hunched over like a 90-year-old woman. No one knew at the time, but I was experiencing a ruptured appendix that was killing me.

After several days, we finally went to the hospital and the doctor examined me but diagnosed my pain as a harmless bout of gas. He told us we were free to go home and that I should just rest over the next couple of days. My spirit fell, knowing I had been resting already with no results. On our way out, however, a surgeon noticed how terrible I looked and refused to let me go home. According to him, my face was green and I needed to stay in the hospital overnight to be safe. He didn’t have anything to do with my case, but he was adamant and seemed sincerely worried.

It was a good thing that I stayed because my condition quickly worsened that same night and they were able to run more tests before finally realizing that my appendix had burst. When an appendix bursts, bacteria and fluid spill into the central abdominal cavity which houses the liver, stomach and intestines. After they operated on me, the doctor told me (among other things) that they had to pull my intestines out to wash all the pus off; everything had gotten infected. If they had acted later, the infection could have spread to my blood, resulting in organ failure and then death. Therefore, the operation saved me just in time.

I owe my life to that surgeon who stopped us from going home that day. If he had been one second late, he would’ve missed us completely and my life would have ceased to exist. All that I am now rested on that pivotal moment before I walked out the door. This fact overwhelms me and I am forever grateful to him for stepping in when he did. That is why several weeks later, after I was healed, my family and I went back to the hospital with a big present to give him. We wrapped up the gift really nicely and wrote a card. But the weirdest thing was, when we got to the hospital, no one knew who this surgeon was. No one knew who we were speaking of even though we asked for him by name and described his appearance. To them, there was no such person that existed.

Puzzled and dumb-founded, we went home with the present still in hand. To this day, we still have not figured out who this mysterious benefactor is. Personally, I believe he is an angel who came in and helped during a dire situation. He is just one element of this mysterious, breathtaking and glorious place we occupy. Ever since that fateful day, I have grown more and more convinced that something else is at work in the universe. I find comfort in knowing that we are guided and that miracles happen here all the time.