My Journey on the road to becoming A Wiser Woman
‘Antara’ Kyra Lober
I trust sharing my journey from illness to health will be helpful and insightful to your life’s journey. It was not easy but let’s begin at the beginning. I like to say I danced on Broadway…in my mother’s womb. My parents were in theater. I followed in their footsteps, not on the commercial stage of Broadway but as a concert artist and choreographer in contemporary dance.
Dance and creating dances were my life. I received scholarships and grants supporting my studies and choreographic works. During this time, I choreographed for a number of dance companies. My group choreography and solo concerts were also performed in the Ontario Art Gallery and the Royal Ontario Museum, concert venues and even CBC Television as well as in the U.S.A.
The Game Changer
Then in my late twenties, the “Game Changer” of my life happened. It was the biggest stress I have ever experienced. It started suddenly and continued for what seemed like forever.
Just as I was receiving good reviews in the New York Times, I got ill. At first just my lower back was in pain and I thought it was an injury. But soon other parts of my body were affected making dancing impossible. I tried anyway.
I remember taking the first part of a dance class with Toronto Dance Theater’s dancers, when I had to stop. The parents of another dancer were sitting on the sides lines. They turned to me and said I was the most beautiful dancer in the class. This memory still touches my heart because I felt so vulnerable and helpless in this mysterious condition. It seemed a miracle that someone could see the beauty in me while I was so hurt.
I was not Ready
You can tell, I was not prepared nor could I fully take it in that I was not well. I managed to even give several performances booked prior to the onset of all this. Amazingly, I could somehow dance though I could not walk afterwards. I just would not give up.
I simply did not know what or why this was happening. It took a year to diagnose. Throughout that year I was seen by the world’s top surgeons, chiropractors, massage therapists. I finally went to a sports medicine doctor who realized that the pain which had started in my back had spread elsewhere. My hands and one knee were swollen. He sent me to a Rheumatologist, who tested my blood, poked and prodded me. He diagnosed me as having rheumatoid arthritis with ankylosing spondylitis*. I was Devastated but finally a diagnosis.
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Natural is Best… when possible!
The drug I was given by the doctor altered my consciousness to such an extent that I had a car accident backing out in a parking lot at less than one mile an hour. I needed to find another way.
A nutritionist, from a well-known spiritual community in Scotland ‘Findhorn’ said he would not work with me unless I got off medication. I went cold turkey. This too was devastating. Any alleviation of symptoms I experienced on the drug was completely reversed and amplified. I could barely walk. The nutritionist realized his mistake: never take anyone off medication quickly without awareness of the consequences. Take it slow.
Still, I was lucky, the medical profession forgot to tell me it was incurable. I was determined to get well.
What else did I do…
I explored physical and energetic therapies like massage, CranioSacral Therapy, Acupuncture, Alexander Technique. Later I fortunately found Reiki, a very non-invasive way of supporting one’s body healing process. I met with psychologists, Jungian, Psychosynthesis, and Gestalt. I tried acupuncture (he wanted me to pull out several teeth…weird and did not do this). Radically changed my diet which was helpful in the long run and I swallowed 25 vitamins at every mea.l also fasted.
I particularly resonated with Psychosynthesis, the work of an Italian therapist named Roberto Assagioli. This process got in touch with my subpersonalities, the critic, the dancer, the little girl, the adult and my spiritual or higher self to name a few. Some aspects of me were in conflict with each other.
My exploration of psychology, therapists and doctors had its ups and down. It was trial and error. A famous psychologist, who had survived the holocaust, told me dancing was childish. Basically, he denigrated who I was as a being…denigrated the divine made manifest and expressed through dance.
Other therapists put their techniques on me without listening to my body. I did not go back for their ‘Pain is Gain’ sessions. This is why light touch therapies are my forte, Reiki, CranioSacral & Brain Therapy, Vibrational Acupuncture to name a few of my Body Being & Heart specialties.
EYE Did Everything and then some…
I did everything! It took me two and a half years to get well. Now the doctors would say I am in remission and have been for most of my life. My sister recently discovered that our DNA had a gene that made us vulnerable to auto-immune disease. So I have had an internal stressor.
It was not smooth sailing during those two and half years as the disease moved around my body affecting different parts in varying ways. For Instance while I was studying somatic education in Massachusetts, far away from home, my eye became inflamed.
I went to the local emergency room and was miss-diagnosed. I was given medication for pink eye which did nothing. Sunlight was blinding. The pain was constant. Days later, I wound up at an, Ophthalmologist (eye specialist). He treated me for Iritis, an inflammation of the colored part of the eye. I did not know it but Iritis is associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The doctor had me coming in to his office every day for three weeks because the pressure in my eye was so high. It tears my heart even now as I realize I could have lost my eyesight.
Exploring the Unknown
I was so unknowing of what was happening to me. And I was also incredibly persistent in my pursuing my wellness.
You should know that even today, if ever I mention I have a history of Iritis, I have an appointment at any hospital eye clinic the next day. Whenever you get an appointment the next day in Canada’s healthcare system, it is serious.
In addition to seeing professionals in somatic education, alternative healing modalities and psychologists I also did a great deal of work on myself. I learned to juggle when my hands were swollen with pain and wound up juggling as many as five balls at a time. I found play was often a better healer than exercises.
Toning (sending a humming sound) into the physical receptors/glands of my Chakras, aka energy centers, helped me re-balance my hormones. I never had a regular menses while in my twenties. As a dancer I always thought I was too fat but it seems I did not have enough weight on me to support menstruation.
I waited every day for a window of opportunity that would take me out of my pain. Sometimes this would happen through gentle play, free form dance, meditation. Getting in touch with my repressed feelings was essential during this period.
One of the meditations I did celebrated anger and ended in devotional dance. I had to do this one very gently or I would just hurt myself.
I also let go of everything and everyone in my life. This last approach is not recommend but it was what was needed for me.
One of the people I let go of was my wonderful husband. We got along super well. There was phenomenal respect of each other and our abilities. We collaborated on creative projects. The only time we argued was when we were in noisy environments. I have realized that noise is a trigger for me.
In many ways the relationship was the best gift I have ever given myself. Unfortunately the chemistry of our initial love affair did not last. He and I also traveled separately for our work sometimes for as long as two months at a time much like my dancer parents.
And maybe we just got along too well. Something in my soul needed to work out my challenging younger years: the parents who went off to go on tour with their shows leaving me (I realized later this felt like abandonment to my younger self) with others. Eventually they left each other though they remained friends with unresolved issues to the very end…my mother’s death some years ago.
What I Realized
It also took me a long time to realize that everything appears inside of me….my responses are simply my responses. Changing relationships is not always the answer, looking within always helpful.
Dancing was my life. Initially the illness left me bereft of this essential aspect/purpose of my being. Expressing myself through dance allowed me to share my sense of beauty, my feelings, perceptions and the joy of pure of spirit. My parents earned their living on the stage, early television, Hollywood films and even Las Vegas, I was involved in dance as an art form. I was a very serious artist expressing consciousness through the fluidity and structure of dance.
I also wanted to be technically perfect as a dancer. Instead I wound up feeling totally betrayed by my body. I realize now that I am a human being embodying spirit through my physical form. In fact, the body is spirit in form.
And at that time, I was perhaps a tad over-attached to my young, beautiful body. I also wanted to be thinner. I am sure I was just fine, but maybe all those dance classes I took looking in the mirror were not so great for ‘being’ in the body. Truth is almost always paradoxical. I was too attached to how I looked but also detached from experiencing many aspects of myself. Does this make sense? Have you experienced yourself as too much and too little at the same time?
Illness to Health
Looking back, getting ill with a chronic condition was the most significant event of my life. It changed the direction of my life. It was a Game Changer and the beginning of becoming a Wise Women. Stay tuned for next week’s installment. Do take time to reflect on how you have been with the challenges of your life. Have your challenges enriched your life. If you have had a major journey from illness to health then you know all I have said above is just scratching the surface….
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