& what the fuck am I doing here hahahahaha
So, if you’ve been reading me for a while, you probably know that I have IBS, which has been quite debilitating to live with at times. At this point, I’ve had it for more than half my life, and for a lot of that time, I have struggled with it quite intensely on both a psychological and somatic level.
My IBS is directly linked to my abuse, and if you want to read more about my processing around having it, here’s a newsletter dedicated to it …as well as chapter 10 in Who Is Wellness For? which is a more comprehensive explanation of my entire experience living with it. Eighteen years ago—almost nineteen years now—when I was first diagnosed with it, I was so young — and western doctors still had no real language about what a disorder like IBS could be, or was. My father has had ulcerative colitis for a lot of his adult life, so genetically it made sense that I had developed something similar… but still, these doctor’s comprehension didn’t encapsulate what I now know, that these illnesses, in particular, are deeply psychosomatic, and that in a lot of ways they develop (as many chronic disorders and illnesses do) as your body’s way to respond to its environment.
At that age, already feeling like a constant wayward outsider, being diagnosed with IBS (and then later asthma) was just a reiteration of how I was different, or frankly, fucked. Ableism is rampant in our culture, and because I didn’t see a lot of other teenagers battling similarly, it was deeply isolating. I think that’s a common feeling for many people who have chronic illnesses/ailments/conditions… so many of us have felt completely at a loss for what is going on in our own bodies, sometimes unsupported by families and healthcare systems that ensure us of their care, whilst negating all of our instinct and connection that we have with ourselves. This only further intensifies a sense of dislocation of self. It creates and then sustains a corrupted idea of who you are, and what a “failing” body (in the eyes of society) means.
In this day an age, with HOT GIRLS HAVE IBS representation there’s a plethora of people on the internet talking about their digestive woes. In a way, I have to tell myself that this is a good thing, and at the same time I find a lot of it a distillation of the realities of what real chronic issues leave you with—a sense of loss, aloneness and deep fear that you’ll never be normal.
For me, this has meant developing a cultivation of an extreme pain threshold and a penchant for disassociation, to pretend like I was fine. I have a great poker face! You might have no idea I’m regularly on the verge of shitting my pants. It took me years to realize that I numbed myself with drugs and alcohol because I had chronic pain, how rock and roll. I mourn the experience of not knowing myself, or loving myself, more intimately. I grieve all the times I’ve abandoned myself. Now, at almost 33, I’m still on the path of trying to repair that disconnection.
I’ve been working with an ayurvedic doctor since 2018. When I first found my way to ayurveda it was a huge sigh of relief. At last I had found something that was from my people about how to heal the body holistically—using ancient methods developed by the rishis in India a millenia ago. It felt like coming home, and something that felt directive and honest to my own experience. What better way to heal myself than returning back to my ancestral roots? Through learning more about ayurveda, I was eventually introduced to panchakarma, one of the most intense cleanses or detoxes built for the body to directly tackle disease and illness. I was told, it was the perfect treatment for someone like me. How exciting and ominous!
I have talked about this before, but through my own spiritual investigation, especially with the help of grandmother ayahuasca, I have come to understand that my body carries the lineage of my family’s sexual abuse — it’s a strange somatic occurence, but sometimes when I’m on the medicine I can’t stop shaking, it’s like all the ghosts that couldn’t utter their pain suddenly have a portal to speak through my body. There’s no other way to explain it other than that, and because of this, I have immense chronic pain that can take over my legs, like catching wildfire, moving up my calves like the searing edge of a blade. Sometimes the pain makes it excruciating to be in my body, and at times, to even sleep and rest. Not surprisingly, as a child, I regularly remember my mother awaking in the middle of the night, a blood curdling scream awaking us through our thin-walled house and close quarters. Phantom cramps would come to her, taking over her calves. Her reaction was terror, for me, having witnessed this for decades, and being on my own journey toward self-sovereignty and awareness, I have a depth of words for this experience. Trauma is passed down… damn if that ain’t true.