On Friday, November 13, 2015 I celebrated 20 years of living with Cervical Dystonia. Yes, I said ‘celebrate’. For all of those new to this blog, cervical dystonia is defined as a neurological/neuromuscular movement disorder that causes the body to contract and spasm involuntarily creating abnormal posturing and positioning/twisting to that portion of the body. It originates in the brain similar to Parkinson’s disease. (Michael J. Fox has both PD and dystonia). Dystonia is said to be a condition that ‘has no cure!’ Having cervical dystonia may render the body fully disabled due to the spasms/twisting with depression, frustration, confusion and hopelessness as being severe side effects.
Over the past 20 years I have had a full range of emotions and physical triumphs/ setbacks associated with my CD. Along this everlasting journey I have always been mindful as to what the Universe is asking my Soul to remember about who I seek to be/become as it (soul) is physically housed within a body that is crying out to God.
In the course of this blog post I wish to share with you 20 reasons why I am most grateful and thankful to be blessed with developing and enduring cervical dystonia for the past 20 years.
Long before I developed CD at the age of 35, I recall feeling as though my body and soul were separate – meaning that I did not feel as though ‘I lived in my body”. I was aware of my daily functioning (breathing, eating, exercise, elimination, etc.) however my purpose for ‘being’ was wrapped up in the day to day grind of what I thought I wanted out of life (career, family, health, fun etc.). I walked around feeling invisible physically, hoping no one would see me, or just notice me when I chose to be emotionally or mentally present which rarely felt as though it happened. It was as if I was blindly moving through the motion of life with no connection to a physical or spiritual reality.
I was in limbo.
I was in limbo between the Light of God releasing me from His spirit to physical incarnation that would offer me the majesty of his greatness. It is only through physical being that the Soul is able to fully manifest life to bring our desires and intentions into reality.
The Universe is always asking us to be present in our body, while channeling the stillness of the heavens to manifest our hopes and dreams.
For those of us who feel as though we are not living in our bodies or feeling the earthly connection and grounding in our being, learn to become mindful of what the Universe presents to you – within these life experiences is a message needed for your own good and soul growth.
It was 20 years ago when I crashed my car into other vehicles that were coming at me as they were confusingly turned about on a wet paved road in a construction zone. As I was approaching the speed limit there was nowhere for me to move to get out of harm’s way. I felt as though my car was moving in slow motion as I slammed on the brakes, just then an angelic vision of my father appeared and all I could hear was his voice saying ‘daughter, your life will never be the same”. At the moment of impact I pumped my fist on the gear shift, miffed that I just destroyed my car to no fault of my own. I walked away from the scene unharmed, yet still dazed by my father’s image.
Within days or weeks of that accident my head began to turn to the right violently and uncontrollably. My neck muscles were in severe spasm, it felt as though I had a bag of puppies jumping around in a thousand directions. I felt possessed as if some outer force gained entry into my being coercing my body to twist and turn and move in ways that were not humanly comfortable. As the weeks and months progressed I found that the twisting of my head and neck made it impossible for me to trust eating solid food in fear of swallowing difficulties. I often had to lie on the floor to eat because it was the only way I could attempt to get my neck and body straight. With my head being yanked and pulled it was challenging to walk straight and balance myself, walking into walls and falling off of sidewalk became the norm – I felt like a drunken sailor, only now the spirit consumed was my own. Dressing myself, showering, even brushing my teeth was a struggle when I couldn’t hold my head still long enough to make the right mechanical movement to do these simple tasks. My neck and shoulders muscles were at war with each other, the constant moving and twisting of my upper body was endless and painful. I would twist myself right out of a chair while sitting, maybe not much a problem unless that seat was the toilet. I soon thought of myself as physically hideous, I began to isolate and withdraw due to the shame and embarrassment of the involuntary movement.
I now wanted out of my body!!
It was on that day, November 13, 1995 at 1:11 p.m. I was offered a gift from God to reconnect, to connect my spirit with my body and to fully incarnate into Being – I was being offered the ‘gift’ of learning to become Whole.
This leads me to share with you 20 things that I am most thankful. For those of you reading this that also have CD, I pray that you seek this same realization. And for those of you who I will call ‘able-bodied’ my hope is that you too seek these messages that will allow you to reconnect with Spirit on your own road to wholeness.
This is what has having cervical dystonia taught me for which I am most grateful:
- CD has taught me the ‘art of mindfulness’ in a chaotic world.
- I am thankful that CD has shown that by bringing my awareness to my breath and while focusing on the Now it has helped to ease my emotions which has ultimately allowed me to relax my body and neck muscles.
- CD has encouraged me to focus on my health every day by eating a proper diet, exercising to relax my body/neck muscles and resting when necessary. Part of my every day consists of walking 2 miles, yoga, Pilates and meditation along with balanced, healthy meals.
- Although attending to my health is a time-consuming process, I am most thankful I am forced to do so, so routinely. My body looks and feels 20-30 years younger than it actually is. I am thankful to feel/look so young and vibrant.
- Having CD has made me realize that I do not have to be a superwoman and it has shown me that even believing I want to be superwoman creates undue stress, anxiety and an unrealistic sense of self-worth.
- I have learned who my true friends are – they are the ones who stand beside me no matter what my body may be experiencing – I love them even more when they say “I don’t even see your dystonia” even though I may be a twisted mess.
- I am thankful for my friends who also have CD who live all over the globe. Dystonia knows no geographical or ethnic boundaries. My friends with CD in the USA ‘get me’ and understand what I am physically and emotionally experiencing, the same as my CD friends in Italy, South Africa, the Netherlands, Australia, or even Argentina (plus many other countries where my CD friends live).
- CD has shown me and taught me the art of compassion. I am more knowledgeable and tolerant to those who may also be suffering (which is all of us are on some level). CD encouraged me to write my first book on the subject of Compassion (link to purchase book on Amazon).
- CD has taught me how to utilize my time more wisely. I remember the early days of dystonia when I had to choose between going to the store to buy groceries or preparing a meal as my body did not have the stamina to endure two simple tasks in one day.
- I am thankful when I am able to sit still and ‘be still’ if only for a moment.
- I am thankful I feel that I do not have to conform to society or what the media is projecting to feel good about myself. I am able to create my own values and beliefs based on whom I wish to be, not what is projected upon me by an outside source (this includes projection from family and friends as well). This comes by wanting only ONE thing in life – stillness of physical movement.
- I am grateful that CD has led to a career path of helping others to understand and accept themselves more deeply. Reflecting upon my own well-being has allowed me to gain in wisdom to share my insight with others.
- CD has shown me how not to get hung up on the small issues of life and to focus on the larger picture. In my early days of severe symptoms I had to figure out how I was going to sit up and feed myself, so worrying about the fact that your boyfriend of 2 months wants to break up with you is not important in the overall scheme of life. This takes me back to #12.
- CD has led me to a deeper understanding of my spirituality and purpose for Being.
- CD has given me a greater appreciation for nature by being able to sit back and truly reflect upon how we are all part of Nature and all part of God’ plan. This eases the burden of feeling as though we are expected to ‘do’ so much versus ‘be’ so much in the existence of living.
- CD has shown me how truly strong I am emotionally. If I am able to endure the physical harshness of a movement disorder and still want to continue to be a vibrant, full of life individual, I know I can survive anything that ‘life’ throws my way.
- As a single person, I am thankful that I have learned to be resourceful to financially support myself when working a 9-5 job isn’t always possible.
- I have learned that true healing comes from within and that it is my responsibility to heal and nourish my own body. Doctors may aid in my recovery, however true healing is a result of taking responsibility for my own being, guiding my emotions and taking a pro-active approach to recovery by doing the research and the necessary work needed to fully heal.
- Having CD has allowed me to access my deeper feelings which have made me a better writer and communicator.
- I am thankful that CD has shown me that by living in ‘this’ moment is where I am able to express all of my love for self and the beauty of life that surrounds me. I just have to open my heart and trust God that ALL of life’s circumstances serves as a ‘gift’.
Thank you for taking a moment to read my blog to allow me to share my heart. Please reach out to me to share your thoughts or if you are in need of my help and insight. Life blesses my every day when I open my heart to the endless stream of love pouring in from the Heavens.