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turtle

I have been nursing cervical spine pain for the past month.  It began back in December when I experienced a bronchial infection which led to coughing, which caused rib injury that sent me to the ER on New Years’ Day since the pain was so severe. As a result of lack of range of motion, I needed to crane my neck to see to cross a major intersection. Not sure if I strained it then or if it is more related to emotional dis-ease. Seems that there are components of both. The pain reminds me at times of what I had experienced at the end of 2013 as part and parcel of shingles that also impacted the left side of my head. I described it as feeling like an ice pick was plunging into my temple. This time it is below the occipital region and as I move my neck, I can hear a series of somewhat satisfying crack-crack-crack, as the vertebra slip into place. Complicating the condition is that I am on the computer much of the day and evening in my role as a journalist. The condition is sometimes referred to as ‘text neck,’ from looking down at phones and computers. I have been applying my own healing modality of Reiki, have received massage, as well as a chiropractic adjustment.  Hot and cold compresses, Arnica, Icy Hot, as well as over the counter pain meds have taken the edge off. As I am writing this now, it is a manageable 4 on a 1-10 pain scale. Last night, I was beyond 10 and I have a high pain threshold. I just kept breathing and engaging in what I call God-versation, asking what I needed to do about it.

A few days ago, I visited the office of my friend Dr. Susan Burger. She is a chiropractor who also practices NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) which is a form of mind-body therapy. It incorporates muscle testing, acupressure point, memory/visualization and processing. I have known her for many years and she is familiar with some of my history so I can’t sneak anything past her, which is a positive thing.

While sitting in her office, she began intuiting that some of the presenting condition was related to a physiological reaction to a long-held memory. Our bodies are repositories for stored stuff, much like dusty boxes and bags in an attic. She asked (after doing muscle testing) what happened around age 10. I had a flash of sitting at our kitchen table asking my father about buying a pair of go- go boots. For those who are of a certain age, you will recall that they were chic fashion footwear. As a child with podiatric issues, (flat footed and pigeon toed) I had to wear clunky red orthopedic shoes. Not exactly graceful attire. I coveted those boots as a way of earning my cool cred. What hadn’t occurred to me at the time was that since my dad had either been laid off from a job or his company was on strike at the time, they were not in the budget. During those occasions in his careers as either a milkman or bus driver, he always found filler jobs as a cab driver, gas station attendant or car salesman. He was determined, along with my mom, to keep our family afloat. When he said they couldn’t afford them at the time, I felt a sense of embarrassment and shame that I even asked for them. Neither of my parents implied that I was selfish, but I internalized that feeling. How could I possibly want more than they already gave?  Add to that mindset that I was diagnosed with asthma at age four after the death of my beloved grandmother who was like a third parent and I felt even more burdensome, since my mother used to take me to weekly doc appointments for allergy shots and into the bathroom to inhale steam when I couldn’t breathe at night. I did all I could throughout my life to be a ‘good girl,’ and also to earn everything given to me. Being offered something out of love is sometimes challenging all these years later. It harkens back to training myself not to want what I may be able to have. It infiltrates my relationships as I have difficulty allowing men to take care of me. It runs rampant through my financial situation as I often perceive that I will never make enough and be left wanting. I picked up on my father’s shame that he couldn’t provide those boots at that point. When he went back to work, I did eventually receive them. I also find myself being what my husband had thought of as overly grateful when someone did something for me. In Susan’s office, that little girl came through to enlighten the woman who could not understand why she still is not where she thinks she ‘should be’ professionally.

I had a dream last night that seems to be connected. I dreamed I was in this town in upstate Pennsylvania, not sure where. I was walking down a street and someone grabbed me by the back of the neck and held my head under water. I do lucid dreaming, so in the midst of it, I shook them off and said, “I am going to let God heal me in this water instead.” So, I swam around in it and found myself laughing. I climbed out (it was like a deep square concrete pond filled with cedar water like I used to swim in in South Jersey as a child) and walked back down the street sloshing water. Later in the dream, there was a man who asked if I wanted to dance. We did and it was lovely. Still testing the waters in so many areas of my life.

Two insightful and healing professional friends LeeAnne Englert and Ken Kaplan had this powerful feedback to offer

“What struck me in your dream was that it was an aspect of you drowning yourself. Dreams have many layers but the first one I go to is that each player in the dream is an aspect of us. It helps us to see the dichotomy we are dealing with. The good news is that you freed yourself but I would look more deeply into the part of yourself that wants to off you. And now seems to be manifesting pain in your physical body. Soul retrieval time!”

“LeeAnne is right. What part of you is “holding you down”. Why in water? Water usually represents emotion, feeling. Dig into life issues. Where has this energy of self-suppression shown up before? Dig deeper. What positive aspect of self (anger at feeling denied, passion, energy, etc) that wants to be expressed is being held back by you and shows up in shadow form? Relates to neck injury which is fear. (Think of turtle drawing its neck in, afraid to fearlessly look around and survey the landscape.-vulnerability)”

As I ponder this, I am willing to stick my neck out and explore the landscape.

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