This week I had a rather nasty crash, unusual in the severity of symptoms. For various reasons, which I’ll talk about in a minute, I didn’t immediately surrender, as I usually do. When I did, it made such a dramatic difference it made me want to stress the importance of surrender and share the story with everyone. Let’s first talk about what I mean by surrender and why it is important.
What do I mean by surrender?
Surrender is a state of non-resistance. It means to stopping fighting. What it doesn’t mean is to give up. If you think about surrender in terms of war, it usually happens as a strategic move. Control over something is given up in order to end conflict and preserve life. When you have a chronic illness, surrender is also a strategic move. You give up control with the aim of maximizing potential for wellbeing. Whenever I surrender, I am not saying ‘That’s it. I give in to the illness, nothing is ever going to get better, why should I bother’ I’m telling myself that fighting is using my energy wastefully and doing more harm than good, I can let go of control and wait until I have the energy to naturally and easily start taking action again.
How does surrender work?
When we are fighting something, desperately trying to control something that is beyond our control, or resisting something that can’t be changed, we feel tense and frustrated. Being in this state of fight, is the opposite to being in a state of repair. We’re keeping what little energy we have, lined up to prepare us for action, instead of channelled into our wellbeing.
Surrender is a state of absence of control. To really surrender and get out of the state of resistance, we need to find a sense of peace with things being exactly as they are in this moment. In this state of peace, our bodies resources are available to be channelled into our healing.
The struggle with surrender
The biggest struggle with surrender is the state of ‘not wanting’. When we don’t want something to be like it is, we try to find something we can do to change it. When we are suffering as a result of chronic illness, it the most natural thing in the world to want to do something to take away that suffering. The last thing we want to do is let go of that illusion of control. But there is a time and a place for taking action, and when our bodies resources are severely limited by a crash or a flare, that is not the time! In fact, I would go as far as saying that any time action to minimise suffering involves struggle, it is not the time.
As I said before, earlier this week I crashed quite badly and my symptoms were more extreme than usual. I’m used to the extreme fatigue of a crash, the brain fog, the sore throat, the fluey aches and pains and more recently the tender lymph nodes. However, they were are all more extreme than usual and in addition, I experience a symptom I’ve been fortunate enough to not have experienced for years: tight overworked painful muscles (even though I hadn’t done anything).
I usually know to surrender as soon as I crash but the reason I struggled so much this time, was I got caught up with the why. Because things were a little different, I wanted to understand what was going on and what had triggered it. I fell into that automatic urge to be learn how to avoid this happening again.
And then I recognised that I was in a state of resistance and I reminded myself to surrender. I told myself I didn’t have to understand the why. I told myself to trust that my body was doing the best that it could to heal me. I told myself to trust the healing process and I reminded myself that I am being supported by a higher power, I didn’t have to do it all, healing could happen without my action. All I needed to do was make myself as comfortable as possible and relax.
As soon as I let go, I felt a sense of calm which very quickly was being reflected by my symptoms. All the worse symptoms had calmed by the end of the day and the next day I woke up feeling much better. My energy was still way below baseline, my body was still heavy and sluggish, but all the other symptoms were more or less gone, perhaps coming into my awareness from time to time, but hardly demanding my attention. Two days later I was almost back to baseline.
I got over this crash by doing nothing and that’s exactly what I needed to do.