Monday, July 12, 2010

The Cross of the Moment

My first conversation with Will, my NAET practitioner, went something like this. (You'll have to imagine his soft German accent, because my attempts to replicate it this morning made him sound like Col. Klink from Hogan's Heroes.)

Will: First we test you for allergies to certain basic nutrients. Everyone is allergic to some of these--meaning their bodies do not accept the nutrients, they fight them, and the immune system suffers. I do the testing, and then people decide whether or not they want these allergies to be cleared.

Me: Why would they not?

W: Yes, exactly. He seemed to be truly considering my question. Why wouldn't they?

Yet clearly, some people choose not to get the treatment. In fact, most people choose not to try NAET at all, though information about the protocol is readily available to anyone who can Google. If it really works as well as people say (and I have read some amazing testimonials), why are allergies still such a common complaint?

More to the point ... why was it so difficult for me to say yes? Why did it take me so many weeks just to make that first phone call? Why did I put off my first appointment? Why, driving to Will's office for my first treatment, did I experience such extreme anxiety that I had to remind myself to breathe?

I asked myself that as I was driving. The answer came in the form of another question: Who would I be without my allergies?

I have been allergic to life for as long as I can remember. As a very young child, I was sidelined from the more vigorous preschool activities for fear of an asthma attack. I was warned to keep my distance from triggers, including the animals I so desperately wanted to love: horses and our own household pets. In high school I carried notes for PE teachers, excusing my poor performance on long runs before I even started. My allergies defined me.

We humans don't give up our images of ourselves, even the negative ones, without a fight. In the words of W.H. Auden:

We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.

In my car that day, I experienced the fight-or-flight symptoms (cold sweat, difficulty breathing) that I now recognize as the outer edges of a panic attack. A big part of me was screaming Stop! Turn the car around! Because, let's be honest. That part prefers its current life of self-imposed restrictions to the limitless, the unknown. It would gladly turn its back on the possibility of greater vitality and joy, just so it could hang on to that note in its pocket--the one excusing me from fully participating in life.

But I kept moving forward. The greater part of me is ready to be changed. I'm ripping up that note and stepping up to the starting line. When I feel like running, I'll run. When I need to rest, I'll slow down. I'll find my own limits. Or I won't. No excuse necessary.

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