Vale Jess – a valiant healing journey
Sadly today, I learned of the death of a friend who had been battling with breast cancer for many years. Jess’s death was peaceful even though the disease was rampant in her body during the last six months. She had embarked on a path to healing and even though she ultimately passed over she courageously managed to heal a lifetime of emotional wounding in her last days.
It was the effect that the emotional wounding had on her body that ultimately eventuated in her untimely and early death. The healing that took place allowed Jess to die in peace, knowing that the physical had passed the point of no return.
Jess’s story unfolded over a number of clinical sessions as she journeyed along her healing path. As a child, a trusted uncle abused Jess sexually. It was not an ongoing, insidious thing but a small number of grubby incidents that robbed her of her innocence and seeded in her young mind a belief in keeping secrets and hiding the truth from loved ones.
Her family lived by a strict religious code and she understood, even as a child, how deeply rocked her family would be if the truth of her mother’s favourite brother’s abuse came to light. So she chose to stay quiet.
She grew up, married and had her own children while maintaining strong ties with her family of origin. As the oldest sibling she had an almost maternal attitude towards her younger brothers, understandable because there was such a large gap in ages between the oldest and the youngest children and caring for them was often one of her given responsibilities. They continued to socialize well into adulthood.
Jess never revealed the secret, known only to her and her uncle, to her husband or her children. But she did boil inside with an unresolved anger about the injustice that was dealt to her and these thoughts often distracted her from being present in everyday life.
As her three daughters were growing up, Jess sometimes felt pangs of angst about their budding sexuality, but she dismissed any concern from her mind because she felt that, with their social activities largely restricted to family circles, her intuitive promptings that her girls were somehow unsafe, must have been a mistaken echo from her own past.
It wasn’t until her youngest daughter was in her twenties that Jess’s own family was rocked with a shocking revelation at a family gathering. Jess was not present when her youngest daughter confronted her uncle, one of Jess’s younger brothers, with her memory of ongoing sexual abuse over a period of five or six years starting from the age of five. She also asserted that he had also abused her two older sisters over a lesser time frame. He confirmed her accusations and said that he was sorry.
Jess told me that she was devastated when her daughters told her and blamed herself for inadequately protecting her girls from the predatory actions of her brother.
After much soul-searching Jess decided against telling her own mother about the abuse. She felt that it would ‘kill’ her mother to learn that one of her beloved sons had been responsible for such reprehensible behaviour. So she kept the secret again and held it within her breast choosing instead to carry the load.
She also decided not to tell her husband because she felt shame that it was her family that had caused so much distress to her girls and anticipated his critical judgment.
Within a short time Jess was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was treated with conventional medicine and was supposedly cured. However the disease reared its head again after a number of years.
The lid was kept on the boiling cauldron in the family coffers for many years. Jess felt that she couldn’t talk to her daughters about what had happened. It was like the proverbial elephant in the room as the girls feared broaching the subject with their mum and she didn’t know how to deal with the information and preferred to just let it lie.
In the MindBody energy system of a woman the breasts represent, on the one hand, mothering and on the other, being nurtured and cared for.
For Jess holding a shameful secret from her mother while at the same time being angry with her at not having been protected from harm caused her to feel motherless.
Simultaneously, she felt guilty that she had not adequately mothered her own girls and kept them safe from harm.
When Jess finally embarked on her healing journey, she courageously recognized that all the secrets had to come out in the open. She arranged for family counseling sessions that allowed her daughters to vent their hostility in a safe environment. After a couple of sessions she also brought her husband along to include him in the family discussions. The sessions were hard going but allowed Jess to experience and express the love that had been buried for all those years now that the blockages were removed. The energy flowed freely at last.
As the secrets came out so too did her cancer. It began to erupt on the surface of her left breast and up into her throat. It was as if all the ugliness that had been fermenting below the surface could finally be voiced and faced.
Harbouring secrets causes the qi of the body to knot and remain contained. This containment will be expressed in the body part that relates to the hidden or repressed agenda. There is a pertinent saying in Chinese Energetic Medicine that best expresses how healthy tissue is maintained by free-flowing qi. It goes: “a moving door never rusts”.
The emotions are seen in Energetic Medicine as ‘energy-in-motion’. When we constrain our emotions through repression, holding onto secrets, denial or suppression, energy (qi) becomes stuck and instead of nourishing and cleansing tissue, blood, bone, nerve fibre and organs it creates toxicity that eventually leads to pathological states.
It can be likened to water: when it flows freely it remains crystal clear, but when it pools and lies stagnant it becomes toxic.
The more authentic we become in our life, expressing fully who we are and what needs we want to be fulfilled, the healthier and more contented we become. Truly, in every sense, ‘healing is feeling’ .