In September of 2014, my son died of a pulmonary embolism on an airplane 9 months after I moved to live close to him and his family in Newport Beach, CA. To say that my life was turned upside-down would be an understatement. His death was truly my worst nightmare. He was my only child.
Hard to use the word ‘luck’ in this story but luckily for me, my training as a psychotherapist and many years of agency and private practice work in NYC, taught me the importance of taking care of myself. A month after his death I dragged myself to the gym. I heard him in my head saying, “Mom, go! Get out of the house. Don’t just sit there.” I continued doing the outdoor activities that we shared, without him. I cried and cried and cried as I rode my bike alone remembering our talks and how invigorated we both felt at the end of our rides. I dragged myself to a grief group of parents who also lost children, where I could share my feelings and feel their support and understanding.
As this holiday season approached, I began feeling my anxiety rise. Should I make plans, should I not make plans? I couldn’t predict with any accuracy how I would be feeling from pretty much Halloween through January. After feeling guilty about handing small children candy at Halloween I started thinking. I know that sugar is poison. I wasn't feeling good about buying bags of candy to pass out but I did it anyway. I realized that I was doing what was expected, following the crowd. Then Thanksgiving came. I bought sugary cranberry sauce and thought about making a traditional Thanksgiving turkey for a good friend who was coming to visit over Thanksgiving week, even though I was feeling sluggish and not into anything traditional. Lucky for me, she’s non traditional in many ways and was open to eating healthy during the holiday. I was amazed at how much better I felt without all the tryptophan, alcohol and sweets I might have had. We enjoyed ourselves. Even went to a neighbors party where I selected the healthiest choices offered. Whew, got through Thanksgiving.
Right about then, I started to take my personal inventory. I realized that I had had a number of losses and stressful events in the previous two years. First my mother died. Family and I had an ocean funeral for her in South Florida during a hurricane threat. Then my stepfather died six months later. My plans to move to Southern California from New York City included ending a 6-year relationship that was not going the distance. The interstate move itself was stressful. Starting my new life in a totally new place, gratefully near my son but stressful nonetheless. Trips back to NYC and then he died, 9 months later.
My psychotherapy specialty practice has been grief, loss and trauma. I know, it sounds crazy that loosing my only child would be my destiny. Through my trauma training, I learned that we store pain and stress in our bodies at a cellular level. I could feel it. I was carrying it around with me in my midsection every day. Crunches weren’t getting it, processing it wasn’t getting it, meditation wasn’t getting…all those are good practices that I continue on a regular basis but the cells of my body were carrying toxins for a very long time. It amazes me, the physical body is a such a unique system always striving for health, even when we ignore it or mistreat it.
A friend told me about a 30-day cleanse system that works at a cellular level. When she said that, her words really caught my attention. When things like that happen, where I’m thinking about something and someone offers an open door, I do my research, sleep on it and if everything feels acceptable, I go ahead with it, pretty quickly. I decided to start the 30-day cleanse on December 1st 2015. I wanted a supportive system in place during what I anticipated being a very difficult month. I live in a community where people go all out for the holidays. Lots of families, lots of parties, for me lots of reminders that my family was really broken up and hurting.
What I liked about the 30-day is that the system is supportive. It’s not about starving or denial. I was able to go to a Christmas party, order salmon and a beautiful salad and even have a glass of wine. I intentionally ordered cheap wine, which wasn’t hard to do at a reception bar. Ii didn’t taste very good. I didn’t finish one glass. Motivation began to kick in when my party dress felt particularly good. I felt proud of myself and grateful that wasn't craving anything. The foods I ate were what I had been eating. A few things were cut out like alcohol, sugar, dairy, and gluten. The meal replacement shakes were satisfying and made it so easy. I loved only preparing one meal a day which consisted of a huge salad and fish, along with many approved foods like yams, beets, avocado, all sorts of veggies, humus, brown rice cakes…etc. etc.
I was amazed that by week two, I felt my creativity and fire for life come back. I never expected that to happen. I accepted that I had taken more than a few punches from life and that my sluggishness was likely grief and aging. Many people would confer with that opinion. I could have stayed right there in the grief and society’s concept of aging. Feeling my fire come back was like the embrace of a dear friend. I grabbed on and hugged tightly. My connection to a healthier me, put me in touch with my son’s energy because that’s how he lived his life. I feel a deeper connection to him in my health than in my suffering. As I take care of myself, I can feel his love and support around me. I can hear him saying in my head…”You got this Mom!”
In the first two weeks I lost 8 lbs, which was not my intention but wow, did I feel good! The last time I was under 128 lbs I felt dizzy and weak. Clearly the protein in the meal replacements, natural healthy vegetables and fish were fueling me in a different way. Now that the cleanse is over, I dropped a total of 12 lbs. I weigh 122 lbs. My BMI is 20.6. I feel amazing. I feel positively connected to the spirit of my son. I miss him terribly but I am choosing to live life fully as long as I’m here. I have now added this system to my OneLife.Coach part of my practice where I help others who are going through major life changes. This nutritional system is such a natural combination of what I do. We often need support during hard times because few people can understand what we’re going through and how disorienting major change and loss can be. Adding support for the body creates a winning program. Check out my website: www.onelife.coach
I’ve been so happy to support people through life experiences that are challenging them to expand in ways they have never imagined. People who have done the work to know themselves and who know their lives could be better with a few changes. I have created a new online coaching model where my clients can access my calendar on my website and book sessions with me as often as they like. We meet in a safe, secure password protected online meeting environment from the comfort of their environment anywhere there is internet access. It’s a healthy model for busy people who know what they want and when they’re available to expand beyond previous identities and/or present conditions.
So Christmas came. I had no plans except writing and getting out in the sun, exercising. A new friend came to stay for a few days, quite unexpectedly. I shared my replacement meal shakes with him. He totally enjoyed the shakes and the meals that we made together! What an amazing affirmation for being good to myself from the inside out. I’m glad that I walked through the open door that my coach, Marissa Campbell created. I wish to open the same door for you in 2016! Let’s do this!