Last summer I started treating severe constipation and healing IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) from a trauma perspective. This is an update to the process of following my impulses and using art as an approach to listening, which I first wrote about in October. I’ll tell you about some of the hoped-for as well as the unexpected shifts that are beginning to emerge, which will make more sense of the feature image above.
When I first started paying attention and getting curious about my symptoms of IBS I found myself drawn to containers, dragons … and eggs.
Gradually, little things began to work their way in and the process took on a life of its own.
The nest got padding from the milkweed in my backyard in the fall.
The protective dragon in front of the nest was joined by a “mother pin” my friends and colleagues gave me as a farewell present when I left the practice of medicine, where I had assisted women and families in delivering and caring for their babies.
The little one resting like a mother of pearl in sea shells from my first sand tray also transformed into something new.
I found this baby girl in a toy store last fall along with the turtle emerging from her shell.
And then my little one started leaving her nest.
Each of these steps happened spontaneously as I found objects that called to me, including the empty robin’s egg and the little sac that had been held within. I forget when or how the shell got broken into tiny pieces, but it ended up serving a purpose.
I kept these miniature sculptures on a shelf in my bedroom and watched the process unfold, not knowing where it would lead.
In art therapy, I made a sand tray. And then started painting. I painted nothing but circles for a series of sessions.
The first circle had dramatic red rectangles crossing the landscape.
I then fell in love with metallics.
The theme of a little-one-filled-with-potential kept emerging and surprising me. The painting above was just a circle with some blobs. But it turned out to look an awful lot like the precious cargo of an embryo growing in a womb.
I placed her on the wall above the head of my bed.
I sat in the next circle (here’s a post on that process).
And I felt compelled to sign the last one.
I signed it with my childhood nickname.
And then the circles felt complete.
My next step was to make another sand tray in art therapy a few weeks ago. But first, here’s what has started to emerge in my daily life.
During the time I’ve been painting, making changes to my containers, and watching things unfold, I have started to see a little more clearly how this little one, who could only be myself, is being held. With love and care. In safety. With tenderness and gentleness. And with patience allowing her to emerge in her own timing.
She – I – are growing in an environment with an increasing sense of support.
I am just starting to recognize how the metaphor of the container is beginning to manifest and take shape in my life – in my external world, in how I am expressing myself, as well as in signs of healing IBS as these changes begin to translate to my internal, physical body.
Progress in Healing IBS
One of the shifts in healing IBS is that my gut function is slowly gaining more movement. This started in March when I discovered and started a new way of eating called Zero Carb (ZC). My gut function is better than it has been in 3 or more years even as nothing is clearly or fully resolved yet. I suspect these changes are in large part due to my diet but that healing early wounds is also playing an important role. I’ll tell you about ZC when I know more about how it is influencing my symptoms. I’ll also share the science and influences of prenatal stress and trauma in the future, as these are themes that have been remarkably vivid in the process I’m sharing with you today.
My Ebook is Done
I completed my ebook last week after working on it for a year. It feels like another birth – one of expressing what I believe even as doing so brings up anxiety because my perspective so contradicts our current way of thinking about health and illness. I am getting assistance to get my ebook up on my blog and available for download – possibly as early as next week – and will write a post to let you know when it has arrived. It has turned out to be beautiful and I can’t wait to share it with you guys.
The Unexpected: Moving!
Something else has been incubating in parallel with the process I’ve shared with you so far.
Last fall, not long after I started this particular project of listening to my gut, David and I decided to look for a new place to live that would enable us to simplify and to experience more ease and support in our lives.
After 9 months of looking, of trying on new things, of getting progressively more clear about what we did and didn’t want, of wonderings even as we trusted the process, and of being open to staying in our house and putting in an addition to make it work better for us – we found a condo.
And it wasn’t just any condo. It was in a neighbourhood we had continually returned to and tried on as a potentially new place to live. It was after we’d fallen in love with a townhouse a few miles away that we’d bid on but hadn’t gotten because the market here has been so intense and competitive. And it was the very condo that I had picked out, like Susan in Miracle on 34th Street, imagining what I would choose if I could have any home I wanted. I had felt a little silly when I had allowed myself to make the wish but it had been fun to fantasize.
This condo is exactly what we’ve hoped for.
And so we will soon be moving to a new home!
In the tizzy and dizzying and overwhelming excitement of going through this huge shift I made another sand tray in art therapy to work on some of the parts that were not quite complete in the first sand tray I created last fall (a process to be described another day).
I didn’t plan this either, and this is what emerged.
The center of my sand tray is a compassionate, nonjudging, patient, Mother-of-all-Mothers. This is a statue that my therapist has had in her office since I’ve been working with her. I had never noticed it before this latest session. In my sand tray she holds her little human baby in the softest of nests. With a Heart that is Open.
And just as I am part of each piece in the sand tray, I am a mother too. A mother to my young and emerging self. A mother accepting the life I have had, of the strengths and skills and insights these experiences have given me, and who is growing the capacity to leave the difficulties behind in the past, where they belong.
Our new home is just 15 minutes down the road and moving has the feeling of an adventure. It is fresh and new and different. It feels as though it will bring more ease and simplicity and possibility for connection into our lives, just as we have wanted. Along with the opportunity for play and tea time and music.
The red footprints have brought me to a place I had never expected.
Who knew my new container would turn out to include a new
It is another step in healing.
We are scheduled to move in September and this gives us time to finish getting our house in order and ready to sell. And then to start packing :-)! In the middle of that I will also be visiting my family for a few weeks and resting up with beach time at the reservoir. Phew! Movement is happening, summer is here and something in my life is changing.
I will write a post when my ebook is ready and then perhaps not again until late in September. I’ll still be checking in on my blog on a regular basis and continuing the conversation on FB. I wish you all a wonderful summer, with little resources and big ones!
Healing IBS Part 2: Repairing the Health of No by Healing Invisible Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs)