I knew something had changed, that something unusual was happening to me. My to-do list was out of control and my stress level had grown to an all-new height. My usually fun-loving outgoing self was choosing quiet and solitude, which in turn was slowly leading to isolation. All of it was a recipe for disaster.
I will never forget the morning I woke with numbness around my lips. I tried to speak, but my speech wasn’t quite its norm. I contacted my doctor who sent me to the ER to be checked. The process was all too familiar for me since I had experienced a TIA attack back in 2000. I knew what to expect as far as the hospital stay was concerned, but nothing prepared me for the diagnosis: the reason for the numbness was nothing other than overexertion that had led to exhaustion. The doctor explained that all my tests had returned a clean bill of health. There was nothing wrong with my body, other than that it was tired, really tired, and I needed to rest. Isn’t it interesting that exhaustion and stress are able to trigger numbness, speech change, and a feeling that your entire body is shutting down? These are signs one should never ignore, and yet I had, because I hadn’t been good to myself. Rest? What’s that? My office is located in my home. I have ongoing access to this space twenty-four hours, seven days per week. I have things to do. Life is happening, and my calling in life requires me to stay on top of what is happening around the world. I have clients to coach, books to write, books and magazines to publish. I have a husband to love, and children to care about. However, something was missing. I had me to love, care, and even forgive. I had to learn to be good to myself. I needed to learn to rest.
Lying there on that bed in the quietness of the hospital room, I had to admit to myself that rest wasn’t going to be enough. I needed also to deal with the baggage that I had been carrying around for far too long. Regardless of the pain that digging into the past would create, I knew I had to get to the root of it. I started going over the last few years of my life. The first thing I recalled was that my weight had increased significantly. As I connected the dots I remembered that I had not been sleeping well and that I had been eating emotionally. I realized also that I had unusual pain sensations in my body and no longer had the same energy I had before. I decided I needed to jump-start my quest to feel alive again. But how? While I was contemplating what to do, the hospital physician came into my room to have me sign my release form. To my surprise, the doctor said, “Gail, here are your prescriptions.” The first prescription she handed me was to schedule times of rest throughout each day. The second prescription was for a weekly body massage. No pills, just some good old fashioned pampering.
Day spas are great places to get a massage and they can be found on every corner. But I knew I had to find that place that would put me in full relaxation mode. In Dublin, located in central Ohio, I found The Woodhouse Day Spa. From the moment I walked through the doors until the moment I lay down on the spa bed I could feel an immediate release. I had found my healing place. But since my commitment was to be well and be healed, I knew also that I had to do more than just get a massage. I had to also deal with the past. While my massage was taking place I thought about my past and prayed over it. Slowly God began to reveal to me past wounds, pain, and rejections that I had never fully dealt with. Sometimes I had to let some people go. Other times I called out names of individuals I needed to forgive. I even found that I had to forgive myself. I began to see how the past pain had begun to suffocate me, the rejections had begun to silence me, and the wounds had caused me to push myself to a level of greatness that I felt I needed to feel significant. It was this push for significance without getting to the root of its cause that had led to a slow spiritual death without my knowledge. All I had been able to grasp was that something was happening. Something wasn’t right. The time in the hospital allowed me to come face-to-face with the fact that I was losing my authentic self and my true identity. The fierceness of the realization gave me the fire I needed to deal with my stuff in order to be free from whatever it was that had a hold of me. Instead of the lies that I had allowed to be whispered into my ears I had to think on these things, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praise worthy—think about such things.” My thinking changed immediately.
With time I advanced from day spas to retreat spas. I found Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA. Talk about a place to go and totally let your hair down no matter how short your hair! It truly is a place where you can expect the unexpected, as their tagline tells us: “At Nemacolin, we bring life experiences to you.” There I cried, smiled, laughed, and took charge of everything around me. I was able to relax, unwind, and leave feeling refreshed, restored, and renewed. This experience allowed me to dig deep and get to the root of how my life had taken a turn. I had been giving too much of myself and I had allowed others take advantage of my good and decent nature. I began to remember all the times I had found myself wondering in disbelief why I had once again allowed someone use me and I began to realize how those experiences had left me in agony and pain. But I realized also that there was no one to blame but me. I had to take back control of how I allowed others use my time, gifts, and talents, while they threw away what they didn’t want or need.
I had to change.
As I progressed from day spas to retreat spas, I eventually decided to try a destination spa. The week of my fiftieth birthday eight amazing women and I gathered together to celebrate. One of the items on our itinerary was a day at The Spa at Mansion House in Martha’s Vineyard. Here I experienced the best spa massage in my entire life. With every pressure point I felt a release that I am unable to explain. I rose from that spa table with my shoulders extended back, my head up, my walk different, and my confidence through the roof. That day was the beginning of the rest of my life. By the time I landed in Providence Rhode Island I was a new me. Taking the ferry and crossing the waters stirred up a renewed strength. Every wave that forced the ferry to jump illustrated the risks I was going to take in my life without fear or trembling. There was something about exiting the ferry and stepping onto Martha’s Vineyard. There was something amazing about renting a home for seven-days and celebrating with authentic friends, and family. There was something powerful about being a part of an elite crowd—if only for a moment. It was exhilarating! Here’s the truth: once you deal with your past wounds, pain and rejections you can witness “exciting, amazing, powerful, and exhilarating,” all day—everyday.
As I reflect over the last five years of my life there’s an empowered feeling. Something happened to me during my stay in the hospital. I had to make a decision to either allow the stress of life, past wounds, pain, and rejection knock me off of my feet, or to get up, be bold, filled with fire to do something life-altering just for me. I made my decision. I chose me! What could have resulted in a spiritual death propelled me towards a greatness that I cannot keep to myself. I am fierce, fearless, focused, and faithful with a fire that has released me to a place of living my life abundantly.
Now it’s your turn.
I am equipped to help others along this journey. I now coach women who are Ready 2 Release past wounds, pain, and rejection. Interested in learning more? Visit my website: http://gaildudley.com/wounded.html
Let’s talk. Join the conversation. How have you pressed through your past wounds, pain, and rejection?