Healing, health, wellness. It's what we all want, right? But, have you ever been ill and really lavished in the attention your loved ones were suddenly more willing to provide or the excuses it allowed you? Feeling great feels - well, great, but what happens when you feel good but there's a bit of dis-ease lying just underneath the surface. What happens when you never truly get the attention you desire or the break you deserve. How do you manage when the weight of the world rests on your shoulders and you have no one there to offer support, no one there to help to carry the load?
Per Meriam-Webster Dictionary the medical definition of a secondary gain is A benefit (such as sympathetic attention or time off from work) associated with a physical or psychological disorder. Secondary gains are something we all have the potential to experience to a degree. It's when we haven't given ourselves the self-care and love we necessitate that we're more susceptible to experiencing poor health and illness.
Sometimes sickness offers the opportunity for a much-needed break that our body has been begging us for but we've refused to acknowledge. We put off the R&R for another day; we sigh in resignation over the fact that "we just can't right now". Not only does sickness have the ability to make us pay attention to our own needs but it can also facilitate us in gaining attention from loved ones who have otherwise seemed just out of reach due to their own heavy workloads and stresses. Sometimes it just knocks us on our asses and ensures that we are pampered somehow some way.
Now, I'm not saying that this is the case for all illnesses. Not at all. I'm just imploring you to look at yourself. Have you given yourself adequate rest and care? Do you feel loved and supported by your friends and family? Do you feed yourself healthy foods, exercise adequately, and allow yourself time to laugh and play? When do you find yourself suffering from illness? Is there a pattern?
Chronic illness is another beast altogether. I have suffered from a chronic illness since I was an eight-year-old child. I've looked that monster up and down and sideways asking why it came about, how I might heal it, and why it is that it's in the forefront of my life. A few years ago I started to realize that I have experienced secondary gains from the illness for as long as I can remember. It offers an abundant supply of attention from loved ones, privileges I wouldn't otherwise have, and excuses for my failings. Is that why I keep it around?
I believe anything can be healed. There are stories from people of all walks of life who talk of miraculous recoveries; doctors having told patients they'd never be able to walk again and they're running a year later, death sentences from cancerous tumors that mysteriously disappear, and massive brain traumas that offer very little chance of even surviving surgery and yet the patients end up living full lives with no significant deficits.
What is it that gives these people the ability to survive and thrive? How do they end up living such full and beautiful lives when they at one point they had ZERO chance of recovery? Is it the result of positivity, belief, desire? Is it due to the support of friends and family? Really, I don't know, but what I do know is that full recovery is possible no matter what it is you face and these people and their miraculous recoveries set a beautiful example for us all to follow.
I think it's a matter of what it is you truly want, deep down, subconsciously, and otherwise. Maybe it's due to what we feel we truly deserve. Maybe it's all of the above but I believe we create our own realities and have the ability to do the hard work of overcoming our programming. We can choose wellness. We can move beyond our unhealthy patterns and illnesses have a way of giving us the chance to really look at what and why we're having certain experiences.
I know that this can be a triggering idea and in no way am I blaming anyone for their illness(es), but maybe just maybe we all have access to the power to heal. Maybe we all can miraculously recover. I'm going to keep my chronic illness for the time being because I'm not quite ready to release it, but maybe in a year or ten I'll be one of those people with a story that makes doctors say, "Well, you must have been misdiagnosed." ;)
Much love and health to all!
- Heather Whitmore, LMT