Once upon a time there was a woman who knew herself to be special.
She knew this because her mother, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, friends and their families could all feel this specialness too. In fact, they each contained their own unique expression of this specialness which shone through voice, eyes and heart, creating the fabric of their world.
This specialness allowed her to take the meaning of her daily life into the shelter of her body, where it mixed in the waters of her wellspring of ancient wisdom. Her clever body—the alchemist—transmuted this learning to the understanding that became the shared lore that shaped the ebb and flow of the life of her community.
Deep down, each of us knows there is something special about us. We all have this latent ability to find meaning from the hidden nuances in the world around us. It is an archetypal imprint of our womanhood, whether we access and acknowledge it or not. It is there.
The modern world doesn’t allow room or motivation for this link to our specialness to remain beyond the childhood games of imaginary worlds and adventure. It is systematically programmed out of us, albeit at a deeply unconscious level.
We live in the shadow of centuries of purposeful and systematic undermining of the feminine as a rightful player as a shaper of our society. To be successful and accepted we have adopted a very masculinised way of containing the feminine, and have forgotten, or don’t allow ourselves to plumb the luscious depths of this aspect of our nature.
Over time, we have seen the feminine instinctive nature looted, driven back and over built. For long periods,
it has been mismanaged like the wildlife and the wildlands. For several thousand years, as soon and as often as we turn our backs, it is relegated to the poorest land in the psyche. The spiritual lands of Wild Woman
have throughout history, been plundered or burnt, dens bulldozed, and natural cycles
forced into unnatural rhythms to please others. (Estés, 1992)
Whether through fear or doubt, many of us are unable to connect with that inner specialness.
The reasons are many and varied on the surface, but the one common thread that runs through all our stories is this: we are women, and for many centuries we have been systematically cut off from our innate abilities, by fear, violence, isolation and the loss of value and identity, in turn.
This history is reflected in how our lives are constructed today, and by the fact that many women still live in considerable fear and isolation, on the receiving end of violence, injustice and being seen, both internally and often by the external world, as being somehow less than.
The outcome that is common to almost all women, is disconnection with our core that results in a level of disquiet that grows as we move through life. This disquiet meets with the increasing pressures our modern world places on us, and manifests as high stress, anxiety and depression, chronic illness, and a burgeoning sense of dislocation and overwhelm—that the life we’re living isn’t the one we’d planned.
These are all symptoms of the same thing: a dysfunction that affects the entire human race. It is up to us, as the women and traditional shapers of lore, to heal this dysfunction; to find the way to reconnect what’s been disconnected and step out as whole, balanced, spiritual humans.
This book asks you to view disease in a different light; to consider that chronic illnesses are symptoms of something missing. That rather than being an end point, this illness is the beginning. The fact that you have this condition is not bad luck or poor decision-making in the past; rather, it’s an opportunity, a turning point in your life. You can choose to move into power and take control, or you can step back and accept that this is all there is for you.
In Part 1, I share some of my own journey and invite you to find and explore the patterns and pathways in your life that have brought you here. I also share my understanding of the disease process from the physical, emotional and spiritual level to give context to what’s shared in Part 2.
Part 2 contains the philosophy, the tools and their application, I use to manage my own illness and the suggestions for you to start your own journey of reconnection. Use this as a guidebook, if you like, as you begin to explore the maybe as yet unfamiliar terrain of your own body, and reclaim this territory as your own.
In Part 3, you’ll find the tips and tricks that have enabled me to continue operating as a solopreneur over the last 10 years while managing slowly deteriorating physical health, and, the things I do to nourish myself and nurture my business. If you are a solopreneur like me, your biggest challenge in this part is understanding and embodying feminine business principles. The biggest lesson I have learned is to stop trying to be a spiritual woman operating in a masculinised framework; to surrender to the true nature of feminine flow and guide my business to reframe itself within feminine business principles.
Part 4 challenges you to alter your perception of reality. If you are willing to see your illness as an opportunity, a doorway, an initiation into sacred truth, then open your arms wide to receive the gift of truth.
My purpose in writing this book is to give you the keys to open your own door to freedom. Our pathways may be similar and some of our experiences shared, but the application of true knowing, that belongs only to you. Use the tools and knowledge shared here to uncover your unique soul-aligned solutions.
My intention in sharing this with you is simple—it’s time for you to see yourself in truth so that you will honour yourself as an incredible woman of courage. You are the expression of divinity that enables our awakening to accelerate. Your own healing journey brings healing to us all. I thank you for that gift—it brings our world back into balance.
The three highs—high achiever,
highly intuitive, and highly sensitive
Before we get into the good stuff, I want to clarify what I’m writing about, who it’s for, and why.
The why, is pretty simple. Things need to change. Our current way of operating is making us sick; it’s making the world sick. We can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results—that’s insanity, right? The shift we need is deep, it’s profound and it’s highly personal. Hence, I’m sharing some deeply personal experiences and insights here to encourage a shift for you.
What do I mean when I say chronic illness? For me, personally, it’s fibromyalgia. That’s the focus of this book. However, the approach I outline can be applied to a variety of long-term health issues. In this book, and in the work I do, I use the term chronic illness as an umbrella term that includes chronic conditions, autoimmune disease, and central sensitivity syndromes.
So, what’s a chronic condition?
The Australian Government defines the following as chronic conditions.
- Back problems
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Heart, stroke and vascular disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Mental health conditions
(Australian Government – AIHW, 2021)
I’ve certainly worked with all of the above conditions in my clinic over the last 10 years. The majority of my client base is women. So, there’s obviously an inherent bias in my perspective, but it’s interesting to note, that Australian and International sources confirm an imbalance in representation, with women more likely than men to develop a chronic health condition.
The above chronic conditions are characterised as:
- having complex and multiple causes
- affecting individuals alone or with other diseases
- usually having a gradual onset
- occurring across the life cycle
- compromising quality of life and creating limitations and disability
- being long-term and persistent.
(Australian Government – AIHW, 2019)
Disease states showing up as the conditions outlined above are attributed to many causes, but common contributors often include prolonged stress and lifestyle choices. Accidents, injury and surgeries can also play a role in contributing to the development of a chronic health condition.
Scarily though, “Chronic conditions are the leading cause of illness, disability and death in Australia.” (Australian Government Health Department, 2020). Further to that, women aged 15 years and over are more likely than males to have a chronic condition. (Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2018).
The numbers show us that there’s obviously something going wrong with the way we, as a society, are choosing to live. The numbers also show that women are more likely than men to manifest the struggle of maintaining our modern way of life as a chronic condition that becomes a lifelong companion.
This disparity increases when it comes to autoimmune disorders, with three out of four people living with an autoimmune disease being women. Onset most often seems to occur in our childbearing years. Also, autoimmune disease is often strongly affected, for better or worse, by the major hormonal changes experienced in pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. (Victorian Government, 2014)
So, along with the chronic conditions outlined above, I include autoimmune conditions such as RA, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Crohn’s disease, MS, Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis and type 1 diabetes. This list isn’t exhaustive, by the way, but these are the ones I’ve personally seen in my client base.
“Autoimmune diseases are a broad range of more than eighty related disorders, ranging from common to very rare. They affect around 5% of people and are an important health issue in Australia and New Zealand.”
(Australasian Society of Immunology and Allergy – ASCIA, 2019)
This brings us to my personal area of interest—the central sensitivity syndromes (CSS). Fibromyalgia falls under this category, along with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), temporomandibular disorder, pelvic pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic headache, tension headache, migraine and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to name a few.
Rather than being a bunch of unrelated disorders that up until now have been treated in separate boxes relative to the body system seemingly most affected—for example fibromyalgia being seen as a musculoskeletal problem warranting treatment from rheumatologists, research now suggests these syndromes stem from a dysfunction of the central nervous system. (Provincial Health Services Authority)
There is also evidence that women are more pre-disposed to developing these syndromes than men, and will often experience the sensation of pain associated with CSS more intensely than men.
It’s an area of ongoing investigation, with hopefully some relief in sight in the near future.
So even though my umbrella term of chronic illness covers three distinct areas of illness, there are a number of things they have in common.
- are long term and unrelenting
- have no cure or fix, just medication to manage the symptoms
- impact quality of life and often lead to some level of disability
- have a commonality across some symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, mood, and cognitive impairment, even though the causes may be different
- affect more women than men.
In relation to what I’ve noticed in clinic and experienced in my own journey with fibromyalgia, there’s more at play here than the physiological, psychosocial and genetic predispositions. There’s no doubt that each of these factors plays a role, but the key factor undermining the health of all people, women in particular, lies much deeper.
It is the very nature of our current way of life. We are disconnected from our natural selves, the core essence of who we are, and the deep spiritual connection to all life on Earth and our individual purposes for being here.
More than that, the archetypal energies that intertwine and interweave through the collective consciousness of humanity are out of balance and powerfully disrupted from the truth of their essential natures.
In particular, the flow of feminine energy is clamped down, dissected, and parcelled up to be marketed as a commodity to suit the whims of the dominator paradigm. Each archetypal cycle of the sacred feminine—Maiden, Mother and Crone, is isolated, trivialised and undervalued; watered down and disempowered to such a point of superficiality that women unconsciously spend their lives apologising for the mere fact of being female.
When this process is combined with the pressure of mere existence in the current societal framework, this disconnect from feminine energy makes its presence known in the form of stress, pain, fatigue, and poor health. Ignoring the signals and continuing to strive to meet the ideals and priorities established by our socioeconomic framework in the western world is driving humanity insane.
While there is sometimes a genetic component and some other risk factors, generally, being a woman, and being a woman of a certain age, common characteristics I’ve noticed over time include three distinct characteristics that are linked to our inherent ability and need for connection.
These connection skills were once honoured as abilities to foresee, to read energy, and to read the earth. The modern, damaged feminine equivalent of these are what I refer to as the three highs—the high achiever, the highly intuitive and the highly sensitive.
Even though the following details are presented as discrete blocks of information, please bear in mind that these gifts are interlinked. They don’t exist in isolation, we may be stronger in one area than another, but the likelihood is, we all, yes, including men, have each of these gifts in varying degrees.