One of the most beautiful and difficult aspects of a deep healing journey that focuses on detox and nutritional balancing is the phenomena called retracing. This is when we begin to experience strong emotions and physical sensations that make us wonder “Am I healing? Or am I getting sick? Am I getting worse or amidst a breakthrough?” Very often when the symptoms start, it is impossible to know whether or not you are getting worse or retracing. Only in hindsight can we see what has happened. For this reason, retracing can be very scary and worrisome. How one handles these situations will determine their overall success with a lifestyle healing program.
Deep healing is not linear. The body will heal what it can when it can. It wants you to succeed and has an innate intelligent order of operations. The unpredictability and timing can be frustrating, but one must submit to the process and adapt accordingly. Every opportunity is an opportunity for growth. I want to share with you a recent story of retracing to show you what it can look like.
One month ago, I had my heaviest period this decade. After switching to a plant based diet, my periods are moderate to light with one day of heavy flow and total length of 2-3 days. I look forward to my period as a time of reflection, renewal, and cleansing. This period was different. I bled 3 times as much as I normally do. It hit me hard as I am also breastfeeding. The total amount of fluid loss left me feeling weak, anemic, and breathless regardless of what I ate or drank. I was not worried. I knew it would take time to rebuild my blood supply.
During my period, I had dreams and visions of my most traumatic experiences as a child. These particular experiences are ones I wanted to heal and move on for years, but never felt like I knew how to do so. I repressed many of the memories. I have separated myself from those who caused the abuse and trauma, but its not a topic I like to think about or discuss. It became part of my past that started to haunt me, and I didn’t like how it was affecting my present.
Whenever I feel strong emotions and memories of my past that need to be seen and processed, I go to meditation, often meditation with the use of essential oils in an Epsom salt bath to help release the emotions and cleanse them away. This month I began using orange essential oil in my spiced cider recipe. For three days following ingesting orange essential oil for the first time, I flashed back to every emotional significant experience where I was extremely scared. I flashed back in chronological order starting as an infant, through adolescence, and into adulthood.
I noticed a theme. I was scared and powerless in every flashback. This is how I knew that the retracing was triggered by the orange essential oil and facilitated by intense cleansing in the form of my period. You see, orange is the color of our third chakra that is our power center. In order for me to fully step into my power, I need to face and release every significant moment where I was powerless. The memory will remain, but the stored emotion must be released.
I was so excited when I realized why I was feeling the emotion so intensely, because I knew my body was shifting into its power. However, the symptoms continued and got worse to the point where I became concerned. Am I getting worse due to stress and lack of sleep? I developed mastitis, and it lasted longer than I expected. My breast swelled, my arm hurt, and my lymph became backed up. I used my normal approaches for this situation, such as rest, Epsom salt baths, and cinnamon essential oil. This usually clears up a clogged duct within 24 hours for me. But this time was more complicated.
I store my energy for nurturing others in my left breast. Many of my powerless traumas involved an expectation of over nurturing others in an imbalanced or inappropriate manner. I could feel the heartache these experiences caused. In meditation, the mantra “My heart is in pain.” appeared over and over again. I felt like maybe the constant interrupted sleep of nursing a newborn multiple times a night had taken its toll and that only sleep and patience could solve this discomfort.
Then last night, I had a break through. Before bed, my husband suggested that I was processing something deep that had been stored for a long time. He recommended that I not worry and embrace what that could be. Then I went into meditation and had another intense flashback. I relived my wisdom tooth surgery: the pre-surgery jitters, the comatose state, feeling close to death, the grief of losing a body part, the fear of not being with my mom, and the illness caused by the pharmaceutical drugs.
Retracing anesthesia is as scary as it gets for me. I learned just how harmful and traumatic the surgery was for my mind, body, and soul and that it’s haunted me for over a decade. I was reminded that I was close to death in a comatose state where my body was totally paralyzed, and I was victimized. I was reminded that those drugs leave residues. They can create temporary paralysis symptoms, moments of intense fear, and limit physical range of motions. It weakened my heart and has caused many episodes of dizziness.
I understand that pharmaceutical drugs and surgery have a time and a place, but that they should be used as an absolute last resort. I was reminded why I turn to whole foods, herbs, spices, and essential oil FIRST, and why I invest so much into prevention and healthy foundational habits. I was reminded of how powerful my body is and how my liver protected me from death. My heart kept pumping and has chosen to heal from lack of love, so that I may become unconditional love for my family. I woke up with a feeling of optimism and hope.
My heart and boob still ache. I still feel the fear and panic releasing. But I know that I am transforming into a more powerful version of myself. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful to be able to run, jump, and sing. I’m grateful to be able to breastfeed a beautiful little girl. I’m grateful for an amazing supportive husband who does not judge me for my past or emotions and instead holds space for me to heal and grow. I’m thankful for essential oils taking my health to the next level by helping me release such powerful, stored emotions. I’m grateful for the pink roses my daughter picked out. I’m grateful for the wild blueberry pie I had for breakfast. What an amazing opportunity for growth on Thanksgiving Day!
PS. Did you know that wild blueberries are one of the best foods to help overcome life and death situations? Wild blueberry bushes can be burned to the ground and will come back stronger than ever.