Paradox. Healing.

by Rachel Creager Ireland

When you’ve been in the business of healing people for a while, some things about a person and her/his healing become instantly obvious. A few years ago I met a woman, call her Jane, who had had a terrible accident, which left her in constant, excruciating pain. Her doctors didn’t expect her to get better. As is typical with people who, like Jane, look normal, but experience a high level of pain, she had difficulty convincing the people around her that she really couldn’t function.  She was in the process of applying for disability support, a notoriously difficult undertaking, which requires the disabled person to prove her disability to a judge.

I was optimistic that she could get better, though, and was grateful for the opportunity to work with her. There were a number of factors that gave me hope. She was reasonably young. Also, her pain originated in the nerves, which I suspected could be altered for three reasons. First, nerves can regenerate after injury, more so than, e.g., a shattered bone, or damaged cartilage. Second, because nerve function is electrical, I believe that nerves may be influenced readily by energy healing: that is, healing which is directed toward changing the electromagnetic field associated with the human body. Third, calming hypersensitive nerves is one of the primary benefits of massage therapy, which is the foundation of my training and experience.

This is a good point to say that I believe that healing –moving toward oneness as an organism as well as between an individual and the entire universe– is possible for every living creature. We don’t always know what it will look like. It might entail leaving the physical body altogether. Some in the new age purport that everyone can be free of all dysfunction and pain; some go so far as to claim immortality, for those who eliminate all barriers within themselves and their thinking. I find the universe to be so much bigger than we are, that I do not claim to have all the answers, or to understand or predict much of anything. Maybe it’s one of the paradoxes, that healing is possible, but often we don’t get what we expect, work for, pray for. Sometimes when the evidence doesn’t support the hypothesis, it means the hypothesis is wrong. Sometimes, it means we’re just thinking too small.

I absolutely believe that healing is possible for every client I work with. Some conditions are easier to relieve than others. Some people don’t appear to improve. Some people continue to suffer. I occasionally refer clients to other kinds of practitioners, but, as long as a person has enough hope to get up on my table, I don’t give up.

Before her massage, Jane reported her pain to be 10 on a 1-10 scale. She couldn’t imagine more pain than she was feeling at that moment. After her massage, I asked her to rate the pain she was feeling. She thought for a moment and said 3. It was a huge improvement, more than she’d dared to hope for.

That was when I knew I would never see Jane again.

In a few weeks, Jane was scheduled to go before a judge and convince him that she was completely disabled by pain. She needed every potential resource to heal herself, but in order to access financial support, she was required to prove that she was unable to heal. She was an honest person who would be deeply conflicted if she felt she had to lie for financial gain. What if there was, in fact, reason to hope for improvement? If she didn’t get the money, she would have to go back to working. Could she trust that she would be able to do that? What if the relief was only temporary, and she found herself back where she was before the massage, but had to start the disability process all over again?

What would be the simplest way out of this dilemma?

Not healing.

If she were in intense pain, there would be no conflict. She could fight for her due with total conviction, and no one –even herself– could fault her for claiming the pain she lived with every minute of every day. So, because she was an honest person, who really needed the money, the safest choice she could make (probably unconsciously) would be to keep the pain.

This is how our medical, economic, and governmental systems subvert healing.

That was the last time I ever saw Jane, though, as she left, she told me she was going to be a regular. I knew she wouldn’t, though I did hold a bit of hope.

Even now, as I think about her, it occurs to me that maybe she felt so much better that she didn’t need to come back. Probably not, but maybe.