We're back to the 12 Stages of Healing this week with the fourth installment in this series recounting my recovery from a repetitive-strain injury last fall. If you've missed the first three parts you can find them here, here, and here.
Chapter 3, about stuck perspectives, was when I realized that I was holding onto this idea that I needed to play the oboe in this determined, forceful way. I had to play well, I had to do my best, I had to show up. The pressure I was putting on myself resulting in all of this tension and holding that caused so much inflammation that I created a serious injury. In Stage 4 of Dr. Epstein's The 12 Stages of Healing, I came to a fork in the road. I was fed up with my doctors, with my oboe, and with myself. I couldn't take it anymore. I was no longer the hopeless victim, I know it was time to take charge of my own wellness. However, while healing was not a question, there was one important question floating in the back of my mind.
Do I still want to play the oboe?
After all, the oboe is what caused all of this mess, that and my insane obsession with playing it. And at this point I knew that it would be easier to just stop. I had other things going for me, I was finishing my music therapy coursework and had landed an awesome internship. I was learning all about holistic health and was really passionate about helping people around nutrition and eating.
I didn't do anything with this question - not yet. I needed to heal, to get out of this pain, soreness, and exhaustion, and so that was the direction in which I moved. In a large way, this stage was not about answering questions for me but continuing to go deeper inside myself, getting to know the parts of me that I had been ignoring in all of my frantic busyness. It was around this time that I started taking regular voice lessons. I found out that it came pretty easily, much more easily than the oboe, and I could have no pain even after a lot of singing. My voice teacher even commented that I could really go after it if I wanted to, and I thought to myself, hey, if the oboe doesn't work out I'm set!
Dr. Epstein says that "In Stage Four, we need to simply say, "I won't take this anymore. I want to take my power back. I will separate myself from any situation that does not let me express my power. I am greater than I am allowing myself to be." He also says that this isn't a stage to make decisions or judgments but just feel a commitment to wholeness. In this stage, I let go of the oboe, whether I would play it again or not, and just focused on exploring my own wholeness and what that meant for me. Anger and frustration gave way to detachment, which allowed my attention to turn inward. As it turns out, this is where complete healing was to be found.