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Category Archives: narrative therapy

Chronic Pain lessons

img_5965My years with chronic pain gave me access to understanding the challenges it presents. As a means of processing what I learned, I wrote and published my memoir, “Silent Courage”.

I have just published my first children’s book, “Wheelie: the Wheelchair in Search of Adventure”.

It is joyous to use story as a means of sharing what I knew to be true about mobility challenged children, of which I count myself a member.

I invite you to take a look at  Wheelie and my new website, sailerseries.com. 

I would love to hear how you might be using your chronic pain experience to help make the journeying softer and gentler for those who follow.

Wheelie is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Writing to Heal

 

Silent Courage, Mary Byrne Eigel

Silent Courage, Mary Byrne Eigel

Doing a pre-release review of my book, Silent Courage, Dr Steve Grinstead said to me, “Mary, you know what you have done, don’t you?”

“No. What?”

“You did Narrative Therapy.

“What is that?”

“You need to read Narrative, Pain and Suffering, by Carr, Loeser and Morris. It will explain it.”

The book arrived. It looked like a medical textbook, full of research. I had paid for it. I ought to read it. I hesitantly began. The book documented studies revealing the healing effects of having people write what they knew their truth to be.

As I read, I felt an internal shift. My mind was now comprehending what my soul knew, which was…

After writing my book, I felt like a different person. I was challenging myself to things like biking the Golden Gate bridge when previously I had difficulty motivating myself to walk more than a mile.

I knew I was traveling lighter. The emotional heaviness I had carried for years after a 40 year journey with chronic pain was no longer defining who I was. My soul felt aligned with the person I wanted to be, not just the sum of past experiences.

The current issue of  “O” magazine has a captivating feature entitled, What’s Your Story. With input from several authors, it presents the benefits of picking up pen and paper and seeing what appears on the page.

Here is a simple way to begin:

  1. Quiet yourself in a comfortable place with your writing tools nearby.
  2. Tell yourself that you desire to know a bit of the story your soul carries.
  3. Begin writing and don’t stop. Do not judge what you are writing.
  4. When you are finished, read what you wrote. Any surprises?

For the last year I have been presenting “Mining your Soul Story” workshops. Based on my own experience and that of workshop participants, I guarantee you will uncover buried treasure.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

I will continue to explore ideas for connecting with the story your soul wants to tell in future posts.

Please follow or connect to continue this game changing conversation. Let’s keep our pens rolling!

I look forward to having you join me.

 

 

 

 

Role Reversal: More Lessons from the Boot

Yesterday, I had a follow up visit with my foot doctor, Dr. Julia. We share great conversations about pain and pain management. I told her the pain from my foot is one issue but the mental pain from not being able to “Do” and just “Be” while I rest is a bigger problem. I asked her if she did psychiatric counseling.

“Psychiatric Podiatrist, interesting concept, Mary,” she chuckled.

She thought I was kidding. I was dead straight.

Being limited physically, allowing others to wait on you hand and foot, rubs up against our freedom and independence. Relying on others and canceling commitments makes me a person I do not want to be. I am the doer, the caretaker, the supporter, the one who has been there for others. But now I am having to reverse roles. Now, I am the receiver, the one who needs support, the one who needs others to be here.

Tough lesson, boot.

A younger version of myself might have used food or wine to navigate these waters. Lots of it. But I know better. That only compounds suffering.

I am trying to spend time with the thoughts that are arising. How do I see myself? Do I have to “Do” to “Be”? Why is it so hard to just “Be”?

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The boot seems to be telling me my ego is feeling very threatened by not “Do-ing”.  My ever present little pug, Trey, allows me to see there is beauty in just “Be-ing”.

I will keep taking centering breaths, not engage the negative thoughts my ego keeps trying to present, and attempt to absorb what Trey knows. It is his peace I desire.

And what I have learned is that if I take pen to paper I might be able to mine some gems from this experience.

Can You Miss Your Pain?

My forty-year journey with chronic pain ended with the total replacement of both of my hip joints. I was free from the shackles of physical pain. This should have been a good thing, right?

Wrong. I now faced the biggest contradiction of my life. I was filled with gratitude. My pain was gone. Why was I conflicted about its absence? I felt like someone was trying to lure me out of the protective confines of my self-imposed cave, but I had no way of knowing if it was a smart move.

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I had never known my body without pain. Pain and I had been in a long-term relationship. We conversed every day, all day. And when the surgeons physically removed my pain, I missed my pain.

How was this even possible?

How could I miss something that had been so brutal, so cruel and so endlessly tormenting? I don’t know why I missed my pain, but I did. No one warned me, nor did I anticipate, that the removal of my pain would cause such mental turmoil.

I was thrilled to be without it. It allowed me to imagine myself doing things that had previously been unimaginable, like touring major cities in Europe. I longed to begin this new chapter of my life. But in the quiet of my thoughts, I was confused.

Was my pain really gone, or was this just another one of the mental games we played? I felt like I had been violated and knew that my perpetrator still lived somewhere in my neighborhood. I wanted a guarantee that I was safe from harm.

This dilemma prompted me to write my memoir Silent Courage.

Telling my story means I no longer carry it. I travel lighter in this world. Taking time to write allowed me to process my experience and properly say “good riddance” to my pain.

An unanticipated gift the book has brought to me has been the opportunity to travel and help others mine the story their souls long to tell.

I would love to have you join me. Powerful truths and self revelations have been uncovered.

“I write but want to go deeper. I am leaving here with tools that I can continue to work with.”

“I am surprised at the images and thoughts that have surfaced for me. I am anxious to explore where they might lead.”

My next workshop will be March 14th in Chicago at Equilibrium . This link will take you to my website and future events.

Contact me if you would like to host a workshop. I’d love to help you mine the gold of your own story.