Bells Palsy

It's funny how the Universe likes to work sometimes. It's so absolutely perfect in it's timing, always.

Last week on Halloween, or Samhain to some, I cleared my schedule for the entire day and night, and went on a journey inward, into the past, into my present and saw more clearly my future than I ever have before. It's a day where the veil between the worlds is thin, ancestors come to visit, and we are confronted with our past in some way. Boy did this year live up to it's name, and I never even left my home.

Beside my bed there is a trunk, and in that trunk all of my photos, memorabilia, awards, love letters, travels and memories have been stored for over 15 years. This trunk has moved with me everywhere I've lived and has lived and breathed my life for so long. So it amazes me that it wasn't until just a few days ago that I finally decided to open it up and go through it- every last picture, piece of paper, newspaper clipping and writing. It contained a past and weaved a story that I had all but forgotten, and helped me see so much so clearly.

I'll just say that I didn't expect so many tears. Even the good memories- I cried over lost friendships, lost grandparents, the farm I grew up on that I loved so much. Many were tears of happiness over memories that made my heart swell and my soul smile.

But not all the tears were happy. In fact, many were of a sadder, more tragic nature. There were whole periods of my life where when I looked at the pictures, I couldn't even tell it was me: much heavier, often drunk, in large crowds of people getting into trouble of some sort I am sure.

I do have to say- damn I've had a really good time in some of the most amazing places on earth. But I also don't remember a lot of it. And what I do remember is that I often never felt good about it the next morning.

So hours and hours passed into the late night, picture after picture telling a story that I was forced to remember, relive, and reconcile.

And then there it was, at the bottom of the trunk- a diary marked "Confidential" with a lock and all. I hesitated to open it, for I had no idea when it was from and no clue what it contained. I had come this far, why not keep going.

I'm glad I did, though I can't say I'm happy with what I read. I happened to open up to the page for Halloween, 1992. 20 years in the past, exactly to the day. I read. And kept reading. It was the words of a 12 year old girl, much more developed than her peers, hormones raging, just having been condemned to glasses and a period and a bra before anyone else.

A girl who was best friends with all the boys, but they saw her only as that- friend- while the other girls were being asked out on their first dates and experiencing their first kisses. A girl so desperately wanting to be popular, to fit in, to be loved for who she was, but meeting resistance all along the way. Angry at everyone, most of all at herself, for what her life was. Which was really not that bad- I was extremely lucky to live in a nice house, have horses, go to private school... but to a 12 year old girl, it seemed like the worst-dealt hand imaginable.

And then it happened, I turned the page to November 5th- I had woken up with half of my face no longer working. The right side completely paralyzed. Bells Palsy. After seeing my mom go through brain surgery for hemi-facial spasms just a few short years before, you can image the trauma- and drama- that ensued. Medication. Fear. Teasing. Lost friendships. Certainly no more boys to flirt with. A fate sealed with no first kisses and no boyfriend to call my own. Lots of confusion. Lots of tears. Even more anger.

And most significantly, the creation of a mask that I was to wear on my face for decades, hiding who I was, scared to reveal the real me- or rather no longer even knowing who the real me was. Is. Will be.

I was lucky, I know that now. The medication healed me to the point of being 'cosmetically acceptable'- no one really could tell I had Bells Palsy unless they looked closely. Unless I was really tired and my right eye wouldn't close all the way, or my smile would be crooked when I was stressed out. Or drunk. But I always knew. I always put on a mask to make sure that never again would I be made fun of for what I look like.

And this Mask ruled my life for many years to come, really until I found CranioSacral Therapy and began to access not only the physical structures of my face impacted, but the emotional structures I had built to hold it all into place. If you saw pictures of me even just a few years ago, you could clearly see the drooping on one side. And also the Mask over my eyes, refusing to really reveal who I am.

Now I can see it clearly. I work with Bells Palsy cases almost daily, and there is a certain emotional aspect that always comes: Anger.

Anger at self, at the world, at what someone has done to you, what the world has done to you. Just plain anger, and it manifests in a loss of use of one's face to some degree to handle the pent up feelings inside.  As Louise Hay says in Heal Your Body A-ZBells Palsy is 'Extreme control over anger. Unwillingness to express feelings'. And her affirmation to work with this: I forgive myself.

I think that affirmation could be used for any affliction. So potent, so real. So effective, and yet so hard at the same time.

And so eye-opening how accurate this extreme control over anger fits with what was happening in my life. And with how I was feeling whenever I felt my face droop again over the years.

And there it was. The realization that this journey, my healing journey, started 20 years ago today. That the past 6 years of my life have not been about finding a new career, or love or a new life. They have really been about the removal of the Mask that I started building 20 years ago today to hide from my life, my world, myself.

I've spoken many times about how CranioSacral Therapy has saved my life, and this is how:

  • In a physical sense, through receiving CST on my own face, my bones and muscles have shifted back to where they were before Bells Palsy. I also have been able to address the injuries to my spine from horse back riding, which I'll address in a future post.
  • In a metaphysical sense, the Mask was removed, the shell was broken, and I was finally able to see who I am. Here and now, without trying to be anyone but me. I was able to listen to myself and see where I was hiding, what I was hiding from, and make the choice to no longer live that way.
  • It provided me with a job that I love, cherish and enjoy, and every day I wake up excited to help others heal in this way
  • And most significantly, gave me the courage to look at myself in the mirror every single day, and love myself for who I am, no matter what I see.

I'm in awe of the timing of finding this diary from my past, just days before the 20 year anniversary of when I woke up with half my face paralyzed. Up until now, that time of my life had been just a memory. I couldn't even remember exactly how old I was, or what was happening in my life at the time. Now I know, and it feels like the circle of healing I have been doing over the past 6 years is complete.

And now I know I am ready to forgive myself. Fully. Completely. And with Love like I've never known before.

I know I'm far from total healing, but this was a huge step in closure for me. Have you ever found something from your past that shed new light on your own healing? Have you ever experienced something similar?

Or have you had Bells Palsy yourself, and how can this story help you on your healing journey? I would love to hear in the comments below!

Jennifer BlackstockComment