I have been trying to figure out why it’s so hard for me to post on this blog (yes, unfortunately I am a perfectionist, now trying not to be). I’ve been working my butt off in therapy, doing inner child work. I’ve been using materials from Sharon Salzberg, one of the best mindfulness meditation teachers around, to cultivate a mindfulness meditation practice. I do yoga at a wonderful studio near me anywhere from 2-4 times per week. I am reading up on all sorts of related topics. Most recently, I finished reading Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s book entitled Childhood Disrupted: How your biography becomes your biology and how you can heal. I picked this up because I had an extremely traumatic childhood and have been in therapy my entire adult life trying to unlock my true soul, which I had to squirrel away even as an infant to satisfy my parent’s narcissistic needs. I have no desire to insult or embarrass them – they really were only doing the best they could, considering their own upbringings, which were far worse than mine in some ways. I hope to write more about it. I’ve even begun to write my life story, and the little I know about my parent’s lives is in the preface.
By reading Nakazawa’s invaluable book, I learned about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, in which two physicians created the 10-item Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey (ACEs) and administered it to thousands of patients in the Kaiser-Permanente database. What they found was profound evidence that early childhood trauma that involves Chronic, Unpredictable Toxic Stress (CUTS) is directly correlated with the occurrence of autoimmune diseases and other diseases beginning usually in the individual’s 40s. I experienced this myself – 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare form of vasculitis in which my body generates antibodies that destroy epithelium in my small and mid-size blood vessels. My ACEs score was 5 out of 10, which is quite extreme. The results of the ACEs study showed that the higher the ACE score, the more likely the person will experience severe, often autoimmune disease later in life. And if the score is over 4, your life will likely be shortened by at least 10 years.
This all sounds very grim, but becoming aware of this has been a real gift for me. It’s only when you understand yourself and accept yourself exactly the way you really are can you heal and have the best possible shot at fulfilling your true, full potential in life. The mindfulness practice and yoga have helped immensely in learning to forgive myself. I’m so grateful for Sharon Salzberg’s teachings. Sure, the work is painful, but it is so worth it.
So how to heal from CUTS? According to Nakazawa, the number one most helpful therapy is meditation! I must have been aware of this on some level intuitively because I started yoga and mindfulness meditation about a year before I read her book. My autoimmune disease is very mildly active and my doctor and I are hoping it will subside on it’s own. I’m convinced that yoga and meditation, and practicing self-care (which is really foreign to me) will get me there.
There is so much more I want to write. Hopefully I will soon.