Healing is not linear ‒ the journey will take as long as it will take.
Maybe you’ve heard this before and maybe you haven’t but either way, that sentence could be annoying to hear when you’re in the throes of figuring out the cause of your pain.
On the other hand that could be an incredibly liberating sentence if you feel alone on your healing journey. There were many times that I felt inadequate because of how my path to health looked. I thought it had to look one (perfect) way and that was linear.
Because of that mentality, I attached any lack of linearity to myself and this was dangerous.
I was incredibly grateful when my symptoms began to lessen or disappear with my dietary and lifestyle changes and excited that I found relief naturally. Relief felt so elusive that it was hard to believe I was finally experiencing some. However, whenever my symptoms such as headaches flared up, I would blame myself for something I must be eating, doing or thinking wrong.
While this could be true to some extent, I originally had no idea that healing is not linear. Linear thinking is quite narrow minded and ignorantly assumes perfection so I don’t know why we apply it to our health but we do. Human bodies are much more complex and human beings are not nearly perfect. We assume that once our health begins to improve it must only continue to improve, especially if we are doing “all the right things.”
In actuality healing doesn’t look like that. It usually gets worse before it gets better and there is a lot of 1-step-forward-5-steps-back happening. If we zoom out and take a bird’s eye view, we would see an overall trend in improvement but that’s nearly impossible to see when we are smack dab, zoomed in on the current state of our health.
Healing does not move in a positive direction only and you aren’t failing when it moves in a negative direction.
When Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are much worse than Tuesday, it’s easy to feel like giving up on your health journey. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself, What’s the point in eating healthy if I’m going to be in pain anyways?
See why it is dangerous to assume healing must be linear? Not only do you consider yourself a failure when your health moves in any direction other than improvement, you may want to give up on seeking health altogether.
I want you to know what I have come to learn:
You can trip, stumble and fall flat on your face
You can be lazy
You can eat “all the things” even when you know they trigger pain
… and still find health in the end.
We associate spring cleaning with our houses, but it’s also a great opportunity to spring clean our bodies since spring is a wonderful time to detox. Spring cleaning is a bigger job than day-to-day cleaning. Think of that room you want to tackle – clutter has accumulated and needs to be cleared out but is likely tucked away and not entirely visible. The only way to tackle this clutter is to pull it all out and go through it all.
If a friend was to pop by at this exact moment, before you have had the chance to go through the clutter, she may think you have created a big mess for yourself! But you know that this step is necessary to reach your end goal of a clutter-free room.
The same can be said about healing the body but in this instance, it is not as clear to us that certain steps are necessary to reach your end goal of a pain-free life.
As you finish cleaning up your room, you may end up keeping some clutter that you will eventually get rid of but aren’t ready to deal with right now. Or you may put your stuff away according to an organizational method you’ve read is “the best” only to find it doesn’t work with your lifestyle so you have to pull everything out (again) and then put everything away in a new way.
Again this is true of the healing journey. Some foods that may be harming you, you aren’t ready to give up yet. Some diets that are said to be “the best” may not be the best for your body. But instead of viewing the process like we would cleaning our room, we see setbacks as failures that leave us feeling not good enough or quick enough.
In a fast-paced society it’s hard to deal with the slow speed at which the body heals. But can we really be mad when we’ve treated our body (knowingly or unknowingly) the way that we have? Can we really expect a quick and perfect linear fix after years of chronic pain and a lifestyle that doesn’t support health?
True and complete healing doesn’t happen overnight or even in a month. These claims of quick solutions such as 5-days-to-flat-abs are meant to entice us to try them because we can’t seem to commit very much time (or money) when it comes to our health. The consequence is we are inundated with these short time frame solutions and end up expecting health to happen much quicker than we should.
Flare ups or worsening of symptoms is not always a sign you are headed in the wrong direction. Maybe inflammation or toxins are clearing from the body or maybe you are learning something about your body or maybe you are building a solid foundation for a new habit.
I honour everyone’s health journey as their own yet I can’t help but want to intervene to save you wasted time and energy on your road to health. Sure there are lessons to be learned in everything and I don’t regret my own journey, but it would have been nice to shave a year or more of distress off of my experience.
Understanding that food sensitivities are the root cause of your pain (including headaches) is crucial to finding relief and shaving time off your journey. While this could be viewed as one solution, I view it instead as one tool to help you find your personal solution ‒ your individual diet that is best suited for your body that does not trigger pain.
Don’t apologize or feel less than for the way that you choose to heal or what your path to health looks like. Trust that as long as you hold the best intentions for yourself and you don’t give up on your body that the process will unfold as it is meant to unfold ‒ and that is never linear.