“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” – Rumi
It was another ordinary Sunday. I was watching my favorite hometown football team lose yet another game. My boyfriend (at the time) was screaming wildly at the television. There I was, barely focused, when I felt something itchy on my upper arm. At first it appeared to be nothing – just a little, red spot. “Must be a mosquito bite,” I quickly thought. Little did I know, my world was about to turn inside-out and upside-down.
At the time, I was 27, an elementary school English teacher, and living in a suburb of New York with my picture-perfect, handsome hedge-fund trader boyfriend, whom I had known since high school. Every day, I endured a combined three-hour commute, across two bridges and through one tunnel, so I could keep my job and my boyfriend, neither of which was particularly healthy. Succumbing to social and family pressures to settle down, I was that girl.
On that Sunday, I remember vividly gazing down at my arm, and seeing just one hive. At first, I wasn’t terribly concerned. Fast-forward a few weeks later, I was covered head to toe in itchy welts that wouldn’t go away. I wasn’t able to eat, sleep, or work for months. I couldn’t eat anything because I was so scared I was allergic to every food. I couldn’t sleep because I’d been up all night itching my skin off, or totally petrified my throat was going to close from the swelling. And I couldn’t work because I was too tired and out of it from all the anti-histamines and drugs I was on. I tried every type of medical doctor imaginable – the best dermatologist, the best allergist, the best physician. Despite prescription after prescription of steroids, no one had any truly helpful answers or solutions for me. Having been raised by holistic parents, I didn’t take any of the steroids anyway. Disappointingly, the natural meds weren’t strong enough either and I was completely stuck.
I have been told that the three most stressful occurrences in a person’s life are breakups, moving, and losing a job – and before I knew it, I had accomplished all three. With nowhere to go, I temporarily moved back home with my parents. Living at home with no boyfriend, no job, and no social life, while struggling with my skin condition sparked the urge to move far away from it all – to a place that I always dreamed of living: sunny Santa Monica, California.
So I did it.
Although I felt completely overwhelmed at the many rapid changes, I began to sense relief ahead. My life was taking a drastic turn at a speed so high; there was no turning back. The next step for me was to heal my skin once and for all. During my first year in California, I fully embraced the natural, hippie lifestyle. I became a dedicated yogi, ate extremely organic and healthy, and I enjoyed the outdoors by hiking every week. Mentally, I felt much lighter and less depressed than I did in NYC. But my hives were still relentless. So I kept trekking on, trying different natural treatments.
Los Angeles is known for progressive healing modalities. I tried various types of holistic treatments, from acupuncture to Chinese medicine, to naturopathic doctors, and all were great in their own unique way. What was most helpful for me and my hives was acupuncture. I was put on a strict regiment of foods and vitamins, taken off gluten and dairy, and received weekly acupuncture treatments. Almost immediately, I felt relief, and the breakouts were not nearly as severe as they once were. The hives were much better, but not gone. I was still experiencing clockwork break-outs each night.
The two-year mark with this incessant illness was rapidly approaching and my frustration was at its peak. Desperate, I was beginning to succumb to the idea of getting steroid shots. I couldn’t live one more week with these blotchy beasts.
One encounter with an old college friend was the miracle I was looking for. She had told me that she saw a therapist who helped her get clear about her life, and heal some stuck emotional “baggage.” I had never been to a psychologist before and never really thought I needed one. According to me, I grew up with a “perfect” childhood, and was taught that psychologists were not for “people like me.” Although my mind was telling me I didn’t “need” therapy, my intuition convinced me otherwise.
It was then I met Kelly, a therapist who shared my outlooks and values, and we clicked instantaneously. After each weekly, hour-long session, I felt light as a feather. We discussed everything in my life – past regret, present pain, and future anxiety. Having an outside perspective help give me strategies for dealing with my chronic illness, while lovingly illuminating my path of purpose, made all the difference. Within a month of therapy, I was perfectly clear. Clear of mind. Clear of heart. Clear of hives.
Deep down, I believe the hives were a physical manifestation of all the truth in my heart, surfacing upon my skin. I’m finally at the place where I feel grateful to my hives for teaching me extraordinary lessons:
- connecting with and properly nourishing your self is essential for physical wellbeing;
- in expressing innermost vulnerability and allowing emotional baggage to surface, we allow healing to enter, transpire, and evolve us.