Poison of Illusion

Hello again, hope you are well.

Just this week I’ve come through a very unique manifestation, it is the culmination of a long relentless life lesson. Something I have been struggling with for most, if not all, of my adult life. This thing is elusive and my patterns of self-imposed masculinity keep it in play but that’s just really my excuse. This thing of which I now speak is self-worth & self-care. I made this very real, internal discovery, some ten years ago while attending a soul-self spiritual workshop in Germany. This pattern unfolded in front of me, a truth revealed. I have not been the most important thing in my own life.

After the tragedy our family went through, in many ways, I took on the role of man of the house. Much like what a father might say to his ten-year-old son while departing on a business trip. “Ok son, you’re the man of the house while I’m away, look after you mom & sister, keep them safe”. 

Well, dad never came back, so that role fell to me. I made sure that first and foremost I protected my mother and sister. Secondly, I did everything in my power to help ease their pain and suffering, I became the fixer. This pattern has ruled my life & relationships for three decades and even though I am aware of it, it still begs to bring forth great happiness in doing for others even at the expense to myself. The irony here is that if you are always giving of yourself than that leaves little or nothing for you and the “you” will eventually burn out. This cycle of disempowerment or a disempowering cycle of self-worth is always at play and a constant struggle for me and yet here it comes again.

I’ve been a kiteboarder now for more than ten years, I look forward to high winds and the joyous high-level flight time they provide. Kiteboarding is an extreme sport and just so happens to be the acting force behind my latest disempowering cycle of self-care while I was out playing on the winds of Hurricane Isais. Having such a wonderful time with those powerful & gusty winds I decided to do some tricks. The one trick I really liked is what I call a superman backroll. It requires reaching out back behind you with one arm while throwing your body back into a loop or roll. All of these intricate movements happening at once while dangling some twenty feet high over the ocean and under the kite.

It was either the upside-down twisting & turning the trick required, or, it was that moment when I pulled the kite the wrong way while upside down and impacted the water at a high rate of speed very discombobulated. All I knew is at one point during my attempt at a favorite trick “something” happened. However, I told myself it wasn’t really that painful so I proceeded with my water-born paradise session of joy. The hurricane is now two hours closer, my legs were finally fried, and the stability of kite control was becoming compromised. I landed my kite, and just stopped for a moment. That stopping, that stillness, is what allowed the pain to really show up and get my attention, the mental mind coming to a realization of “oh no” something is really wrong, a rib on my right side, just above the scar of an old chest tube drain feels disengaged and is already turning red.

After getting back home, cleaned up, and some Tylenol in me I sat down to do rib injury research. Google helped me come to the conclusion that I possibly strained or tore my intercostal muscle. This is a muscle that resides in between the ribs in us humans and helps form and moves the chest wall to facilitate breathing. Well if that injury was all that was happening then I’d be a bit sore for a week or two but recovery would come fairly quickly. However, me being me, that’s not the way it went down.

As the weeks went by my right side rib cage started to become worse, swelling and throbbing, keeping me up at night which fatigued me and made me irritable. Try as I might the self-talk, Advil, and ignoring the growing problem didn’t have much effect. Finally, I admitted that it wasn’t getting better and decided to start icing it at night before sleep, which as you might imagine was a futile attempt.

A little over five weeks post extreme kiteboarding event my side was now very inflamed and pronounced. It had gotten to the point where that one rib was poking out above the others and noticeably warmer than the surrounding skin. The little red streaks, like spider legs, broadcast out in all directions was really disconcerting. Unbeknown to me at this point, my body is fighting a severe and deep infection within the pleural cavity, a pleural effusion now exists where my right-hand lung used to reside and that long-festering infection is now in the process of tunneling an escape route thanks to my latest dismissive rib injury.   

At six weeks to the day, I conceded defeat and went in to see my good friend and local doctor, Sam. His first response when he saw me was happy, not knowing I was on-island. His second response, realizing that he is seeing me in his office and not out on the town was what have I done to myself now? After which he gave me a right talking to about waiting way too long to come to the doctor’s, about how my body needed special care due to all the trauma it has seen, and he reminded me of our last visit when I had a staff infection in my chest because I didn’t attend to another accident within a reasonable time period.

“So what’s it this time he mused” – I swear I think he might have really wanted to slap some common sense of self-worth into me when I started explaining my situation & then took my shirt off. The disappointment in his voice was heartbreaking, knowing this man cares for me and he sees the value of being proactive versus reactive especially when it relates to medicine and bodily care.

After two solid weeks of daily trips to the doctor’s office, a minor surgery, x-rays, ultrasounds, and drainage wicks, it had become apparent to the doctors that this internal pleural cavity infection has been ongoing for at least six months and there was no clear sign of what caused it in the first place. Every doctor in that office was intrigued by what my body had done to rid itself of the pleural effusion as it’s not a regular medically documented occurrence for a body to respond the way mine had. Apparently, because of that intercostal muscle tear, my body somehow recognized an escape route and over the weeks built a sinus tract from the infection site. In essence, my body created a tunneling wound, up and out through the chest wall, creating a deep residual abscess, in and above the intercostal muscle, making me think the enlarged bump I was seeing was my rib was sticking out. Normally a pleural effusion would be drained by inserting a very long needle through your back to drain the fluid in the lung cavity, I’ve had this done before and it is not a pleasant experience. I am grateful my body found a different way this time.

I’m not sure if I am doing better. Antibiotics are done, the wound is almost healed, and the bruising is greatly diminished. However, the rib soreness now radiates up through the entire right side rib cage and into the sternum. My new doctor, Dr. Jo, says the internal scar tissue will take time to dissipate and I’ll likely feel discomfort until my body has fully recovered. I am required to have a follow-up x-ray in six months to make sure there isn’t another pleural effusion in the pleural cavity, for if there is, it means that a very severe condition exists which will require immediate attention. 

In complete transparency, I’ve been feeling like my body has been telling me that my final hour is drawing near. Often in my morning meditations, I feel essence calling to me. There is this undeniable connection that tickles at my skin and pulls forth on my spirit. A tangible moment, an awareness of the in-between space. That space between a negatively charged biological body and its counterpart, the positively charged spirit. It’s is much like that space between a magnet and a piece of steel, completely unseen but there is no denying the attraction exists. 

The Story We Tell

As I normally do, I like to have an introspective look at this outward experience and see if I can draw any parallels to my emotional body of life or life as the human emotional experience.

I often feel like we all walk around with the big imaginary teleprompters in front of us from which we constantly read. What is displayed is our story or better yet, the story we tell ourselves. We are the main character in this story and there are many secondary characters of which we assign an image or belief about. The one writing our teleprompter script from which we act, engage, and judge is often referred to as the voice of knowledge, telling us just how to perceive and interact with the world.

Recently my teleprompter told me that my ribs would get better, just give them time. I listened regardless of what my intuitive body was telling me. My teleprompter broadcast in front of me exactly what I expected to see, based on what I believe about myself. It wasn’t until my story needed to change, that undeniable point where the action was needed.

I think in our life there are two main facets that drive our lives as individuals these are truths & lies. If we carry something within us which we believe to be a truth but it is of an abstract nature, then that thing can be a truth to us, but it can also be a lie. Universal truths are things like tidal flow. The sun rising in the sky every day. A baseball thrown into the heavens returns to earth. Every birth ends in death. Change is the law of nature. These truths are true to every person living on this planet regardless of perspective or belief, they are not abstract concepts.

When we carry something that can be true to us but can also be un-true to someone else, this thing is based upon our perspective or personal belief, it is not a universal truth to everyone on the planet.

Herein lies the problem, if many of our personal truths are lies. So what to do then?

How do we turn down the volume on personal teleprompters spewing forth commands?

How do we do the simple before it turns into the complex?

How do we dismiss the lies we tell ourselves and honor the truths of who we really are?

Below are two things that I try my very best to do on a daily basis. From my perspective, they are a bit selfish but I am ok with that. See what you think.

The Three Gates –

Before I say something to someone, especially if I am not sure I should say it, I’ll task myself with having it pass through at least two of these three gates.

  1. Is it truthful – if it is not firsthand knowledge then it could be a lie based on someone else’s perspective or belief. If not firsthand knowledge then it is needed to preface the message as hearsay. 
  2. Is it kind – there is enough hate in the world and I refuse to contribute more.
  3. Is it necessary – can I go without saying it, what does it add.

The Four Agreements –

These are four principals I try to emulate.

  1. Be impeccable with your word – never use the power of the word against yourself in the creation of your story. Be empowering, kind, and grateful with yourself first.
  2. Don’t take anything personally – everybody, every single person is running their own story – your kids, your partner, your boss, everybody. You are just a secondary character in someone else’s story, you do not have control over any story other than your own.
  3. Don’t make assumptions – that voice of knowledge is making assumptions all the time. When fail to ask questions that might shed light on the truth an illusion is created. We often believe this illusion to be true regardless of any contrary evidence discovered once we have invested in this illusion.
  4. Always do your best – Doing your best is about taking action and doing what you love to do because it’s the action that makes you happy. 

Remember we are all storytellers. You cannot change what is happening around you but you can change the story you are telling yourself about what it means.

Be well, be kind 

Michael

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