Surrender in the Least Likely Place

In the past few days, I had the opportunity to experience my body in the throes of food poisoning (Note: do NOT read on if you cannot stomach stomach stories).

The nausea hit towards the end of an evening client session which posed a tricky predicament, though luckily I was able to maintain my composure and close the session before racing to the bathroom.

What happened for the next 10 hours was nothing less than pure surrender to my body’s tenacious efforts to get whatever toxin had made it into me, out.

Every hour that night I was back in the bathroom. And the minutes in between heaving, I was moaning. But inside of the retching – while my body was violently contorting under the grip of a fierce immune reaction – somehow I was able to maintain some conscious awareness of myself. Like being the witness as well as being the whimpering human hugging the toilet. And I remember having the thought, THIS is what it feels like to go out of control. Without a doubt, I am definitively NOT in control of what my body is doing. My involuntary reaction has taken over.

And somehow despite the physical misery, this thought gave me comfort.

There were no decisions I had to make. No intricate career intersections to navigate. No articulate words to formulate that might save the day.

There was only surrender. The chance to let go of the wheel.

And I was reminded of the complex paradox that guides so many of mine and my clients’ decisions along the journey of healing and transformation. Speaking for myself, I have spent most of my life resisting going out of control. I fight to ensure that I maintain at least the impression that I have it together. To do things I’m good at. To keep my rational mind at the helm.

And yet I yearn – like an ache in my bones – to let go of control. To be held by something greater. To be part of something greater. To stop bearing the unbearable burden of it all being up to me.

I’ve designed my life so that I am in control of most things. And the illnesses that have befallen me lately have oddly offered me access to my deeper yearning, which is to rest, to depend on others and to surrender.

My belly remains achy today. I’m still mostly eating rice and drinking ginger tea. But from inside of this discomfort, I also feel softened, more receptive and more compassionate. And newly determined to find my surrender through more gentle means.


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