Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 2

Last week I posted Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 1. If you have not read that post, I highly recommend that you read it prior to reading this post. As I stated in part 1, this is going to be a multi-part series. In today’s post, and future posts, I will explain the process I used to learn to love myself, and in the end, how I learned that it was not selfish, but was, in fact, necessary for my recovery…in my life and with my Parkinson’s.

Like many people with Parkinson’s, going out in public was not something I looked forward to. I was self-conscious, and the self-consciousness made my symptoms worse, particularly if I felt my slow moving, hunched forward, shuffling manner had caught somebody’s attention (as if a 49-year-old man shuffling like a 90-year-old man with a back problem wasn’t going to catch somebody’s attention). Clearly, you can see that like many of you, I was completely in my head.

Eventually, I realized that probably nobody was looking at me and thinking bad things about me. So, why did my symptoms rage in public? After some deep introspection, I had to admit to myself that I was the only one looking at me and thinking bad things about me. I did not like how I looked. I did not like how I moved. I felt I had let down Sally and our children. I did not like me.

However, that harder thing I had to admit to myself was that having Parkinson’s was just another reason why I did not like me. I realized that I had not liked me for a very long time. It occurred to me that I needed to find out why I did not like me because my feelings about myself made me feel unworthy as a human being, which also meant I felt unworthy of my Parkinson’s recovery. At that point, I also realized that I had been trying to get better for Sally and our children. I was not even on the list of people for whom I was trying to get better.

After some meditative quiet time, I decided that I needed to explore times in my life when things were said or done that made me feel bad about myself. Maybe I had held on to those feelings and they had festered into a sub-conscious blockage of my life and my Parkinson’s recovery. Here is what I did to explore this concept.

I sat in a relaxed manner, closed my eyes and went back as far as I could in life hoping that something would jump out…and something did. When I was young, I was a very sensitive child, which is a polite was of saying I cried a lot. When I was about 4 or 5 years old, my father would scream at me to stop crying like a girl. From then on, when I felt the tears coming, I would bite the inside of my lip to suppress the tears. I need to side-track for a moment here to explain that this situation from my childhood was something I “resolved” in my adult life as a stupid thing to say to a child, and I felt it had been resolved. What I learned in my Parkinson’s recovery was only resolved at the intellectual level, but that it was not resolved at a deeper emotional/spiritual level.

Okay, back to where I was. I visualized my 4 or 5 year-old self, and he was sitting there feeling really badly about himself. I sat down next to this younger version of me, put my arm around his shoulder and told him, “Dad was wrong. It is okay to cry. Crying is natural and you were not doing anything wrong when he screamed at you to stop crying like a girl.” Young Howard stared at me, and I told him it really is okay to cry. Well, he started to cry, and then I started to cry…45 years of self-criticizing, suppressed crying came to the surface and I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed…and my tremors were out of control. A couple of times I thought I was going to pass out as a result of being unable to catch my breath. And then, the crying subsided.

As if I had not had enough surprises already, what came next nearly pushed me over the top — ANGER!!! Young me was really angry at my dad, his dad. ANGER: that four-letter word I had spent the previous seven months extricating from my being. That ANGER! And with this anger, I had a transformation.

I told young me that I was him in the future and I had not turned out so badly. However, I had this Parkinson’s Disease, and I could not have anger in my life. I needed him to help me get better, and I needed him to take a look at the facts of 45 years earlier with me to help me get better.

I told him that when dad said this, it was the early 1960’s in Miami, Florida, and I would imagine that he was trying to protect young me from being teased or beat up by the other children if I cried in front of them. It was not offered out of hatred for young me, but instead out of protection and love. Yes, I still felt it was offered in a stupid manner, but dad had come into our relationship with 28 years of his own issues in life. I told young me that instead of anger, he needed to offer dad understanding, compassion, and forgiveness. Young me complied.

And with this compliance, I had another transformation. For the first time in my life, I viewed my father as another human being, not as a father figure…just another human being who was suffering from things just like everybody else, doing his best to be a good husband and father, coming into all of those relationships with his lifetime of baggage and issues. And I cried, much as I am crying now as I type these words.

This was my first step in learning to love myself. I am emotionally worn out, so I will write more next time.

Never forget…YOU ARE WORTH IT!

All my best,

Howard

 

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18 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 2

  1. judy says:

    thanx, Howard, for being so transparent and vulnerable and brave….

  2. MARILYN MURRAY says:

    your blog is again just what I needed at this stage in my healing, enabling a huge insight. I need to feel the understanding, compassion and forgiveness for myself and others in my heart, not just in my mind and emotions and let it all go – then I will be free. With love and gratitude, Marilyn

  3. Waseema says:

    Thank you Howard. That was so poignant.

  4. Rick Deno says:

    Howard,
    This is THE most important subject for PD recovery and sooo critical.

    Thank you so much and PLEASE spend as much time on the subject as you can. We are all so thankful for your help!

    Rick

  5. Sylvia Ravitch says:

    Bless you for sharing this. It is a valuable tool for recovery. Thank you.

  6. Wonderful insights, Howard…much gratitude for your amazing support once again.

  7. Pat in FL says:

    I join the other commenters in recognizing the value of this post. Your insights and vulnerability light the way to the deep healing I (we) so desperately need. So grateful for your sensitivity and willingness to put this out there for all to read.
    This journey has been incredibly enlightening. God bless us all as we embrace the truth!

  8. Barbara says:

    Thank u! I see myself in your story.
    Bless you for helping all of us.

    Barbara

  9. Florence says:

    I couldn’t sleep. You touched a truth yet again. Now I will sleep. Thank you.

    Florence

  10. mayarita says:

    Thank you so much Howard for sharing this. Although painful it is also really beautiful what you have written. So grateful to you.
    Love to all
    Meirwen

  11. Helen Gill says:

    Thank you Howard for your caring to write about this so personally. I will look at my life again through deeper knowing. love Helen

  12. Sally Carlson says:

    Thank you for such honesty Howard

  13. Debbie says:

    Dear Howard, You are so very brave to face the truths in your life, but you are even more brave to share them with us. It is so hard to accept things in life that may come your way, when they hurt you and are so foreign to what you think and believe. It is a on going process for most of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for leading the way and helping us to find closure, while helping us to forgive and love ourselves.

  14. Joseph McEleavy says:

    Howard: I feel the pain of my lack of source family love every time I let myself crumble into the imbalance of PD, my PD!!! Then is the time I need me to hug myself and love myself selflessly more. I love you Howard, not just because you have given me so much support, but because of who you are!
    I am healing myself with every word, every thought, every deed and action I take! I love who I am and I love who I am becoming!

  15. Dear Howard bless you for taking care of your little one and your adult self with such great compassion and love. You have a new friend forever in young Howard. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I know I have benefitted tremendously in connecting with my little one with love and compassion. Healing the past changes everyone and everything all the way forward.
    I Love you.
    Marianne

  16. Melanie says:

    I Thankyou for opening your heart to that place deep within your soul to help us on our path to recovery.. You are such a blessing to all of us and I thank God every hour to have led me to you. Much love, Melanie

  17. Pingback: Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 4 | Fighting Parkinson's Drug Free

  18. Pingback: Fighting Parkinson’s, and being your real self, part 2 | Fighting Parkinson's Drug Free

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