Women and Autoimmunity

Have you ever noticed how we are fascinated by origin stories?  Think about the Marvel and DC Comics Films.  Knowing the back story or the beginnings of our favorite Super- Heroes creates incredible plot lines.  Maybe even better is when the main character themselves, doesn’t know some intricate piece of their past and then it is revealed in the process of them fighting some evil villain.  It’s the whole, ‘Luke, I am your Father’,  Darth Vader Revelation thing, you know?  It seems of great importance to us, to know from whence we came.

I was listening to a podcast of London Real earlier this week and the host, Brian Rose, was interviewing Hip Hop Legend, Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels, from the group ‘Run DMC and Jam Master Jay’.  During one part of the podcast he told the story of learning from his parents that he had been adopted.  At the time, Darryl had been struggling with alcoholism.  Gaining this piece of information helped him put together the pieces of some of the behaviors he had exhibited growing up and in the group.  Behaviors that helped lead to his drinking.  This new understanding seemed to be a large help in breaking the alcohol abuse.

As I’ve gone through a process of breaking down former spiritual paradigms I’ve been thinking more and more about the origin stories of humanity.  Spiritual origins.  A thought I’ve had lately is that maybe the process of life is about remembering what we were before our souls inhabited these bodies.  This is a pondering and by no means an assertion of truth, but, let me explain…

After giving a presentation to a local Business Networking group earlier this week, I had a long conversation with a woman who has been struggling with some health challenges for a while now.  In the last 4-5 years I have met so many women who struggle with chronic autoimmune issues.  Musculoskeletal Pain, Intestinal Issues, Fatigue, Migraines etc.  I hear some of the same themes among these women.  “Travis, I have been seeing specialist after specialist for the last 8-10 years.”  These women have tried everything: dietary changes (keto, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw food, juicing), various exercise routines, naturopaths,  chiropractic medicine, physical therapy, massage, counseling, acupuncture, eastern medicine, meditation etc.   There’s temporary relief and then symptoms return.  When I first began hearing these stories I felt terribly ill-equipped.  The most I can do is listen.  I’m not a Doctor or any other type of medical professional.  I’m a Character Development Coach.  However, with each month that passes, I meet a new woman going through similar struggles.  I can’t ignore it…

Part of the reason I left the church was the fact that women were not allowed to lead men in church.  A women could be President of the United States but she couldn’t preach on Sunday.  This, as I saw it, was an attempt to compartmentalize life.  I can only imagine what it’s like to be a young girl growing up in church and you never see a woman teach the congregation freely.  Year after year, being told you can’t lead a man.  In a world that has been dominated by men from the beginning of time, what conclusions would a little girl draw?  How would this affect her ability to dream and dream big?  To hope?  I have to imagine that some women extrapolate the inability to lead in a religious context to an inability to lead anywhere.

This is simply a theory and I don’t have empirical evidence to prove it, but what happens when you suppress what is in a person’s heart/soul?  What happens when you regularly put a cap on a person’s potential abilities?  Obviously, the ‘Me Too’ Movement is showing us the abuse/oppression of women that is still broad spectrum in our society.  Maybe, more importantly, the abuse that goes on unheard and unacknowledged.  Personally, I think this kind of abuse can be particularly damaging in any type of faith community because the offense gets tied up with a person’s image of God.  Men and masculine energy have dominated the world for many millennia.  Women just started breaking out of the role of housewife, in America, during WWII.  80 years ago.  Multiple 1000’s of years, versus 80 years.  The chains of oppression take on all forms and I think the persistent cultural limitations put on women might be part of what is causing these chronic physical ailments I’ve seen in so many women.  Anytime in my life I have not been true to my heart, it has been crushing.  As I have said many times, the depression I experienced while working as an Engineer was life altering.  There was back/knee pain and perpetual malaise.  I find people projecting their limiting beliefs onto others, to be one of the most offensive things we can do to another human being.  It’s psychological slavery.  “You are supposed to fit in a certain box in my paradigm.  Therefore, I’m going to create environments that perpetuate that box in your mind and I’m going to spew rhetoric that reinforces that box in your mind.  I’m going to convince you to fit into the walls of my limitations.”  Forgive me but, To hell with you and your limitations!


Rosie Riveter

Like I said, as a Character Development Coach, I can’t speak directly to these women’s medical issues.  My thought here is to check the fundamentals.  These ladies are exercising as best as their bodies will let them.  When it comes to self-control with food, I’ve found women are much better about their eating habits than men are.  They are seeking the help of medical professionals.  My question is, what about fulfillment?  What about the ability to freely test one’s limits?  How many more female CEOs should there be?  How many more women leaders, athletes, service members, executives, pastors, politicians are among us but they are playing small?  Denying themselves the right to try because of what society has told them.  Make no mistake, there are lots of men who fall in this category as well, but by and large I would wager that more women leave this earth, potential unrealized, than do men.  Again, several thousands of years of masculine world dominance, versus 80 years of females just entering the workforce in large numbers.  I can’t help but think that this play’s some role in the number of chronic autoimmune issues I see in women I meet.  After all, autoimmune issues represent the body attacking itself.  Placing a limit on one’s own potential with limiting beliefs adopted from the culture, in my mind, is a form of self attack.  You’re suppressing your own soul.  I can’t help but believe that this would eventually manifest itself in physical maladies.  So what’s the solution?

I think it begins with the audacity to explore our own potential.  What if much of life is about having the space to explore what is deep down inside of ourselves and then doing the hard work to bring those things into fruition?  What if there is some alternate reality, some spiritual realm, some broader consciousness, where we never struggle with addiction, or fear of failure, or people pleasing, or lack of self worth/discipline?  What if the fights we go through to gain health, wealth, and wholeness are about learning to subdue our bodies, minds, and environments so that what is hidden deep in our souls can come out? As opposed to the the limits, expectations, and addictions of the world dominating our thoughts and our bodies and, therefore, suppressing our souls.

We are not utterly separate systems walking around in bodies.  Our Minds/Souls/Bodies are one unit.  What one does or doesn’t do, effects the others.  The stories that we tell ourselves get influenced by the world we grow up in.  Those stories root into our subconscious and can create barriers that have no basis in reality.  I don’t make light of the physical ailments that many women are experiencing.  It’s hard.  My advice to the woman I met at this meeting was simple, “Keep Going.”  There are many people in this world whose minds will never change.  They can see with their eyes women go through Army Ranger School.  They can see with their eyes women who start Billion Dollar Companies like Sara Blakely.  They can witness the sage wisdom of female spiritual leaders like Marianne Williamson.  Still, there are certain individuals who will hold fast to limiting archetypes of what a woman can or can’t do.  We have to transcend the limitations of others and speak truth to bulls**t.  I can’t fix your ailments, but I can guarantee they won’t be resolved if you stop fighting them.  I can and will be a good  example to young women, but it’s far more powerful if they see strong women share stories of transcending cultural limits.  No easy solutions.  Walking into a place of destiny has all kinds of resistance associated with it, to include the preconceived limitations of others.  Some of those people wholeheartedly believe they are coming from a good place, so we must carry grace and forgiveness in our hearts as we journey.

I think the most fundamental task in caring for another human being in any relationship is nurturing what is inside of that person.  Nurturing change and growth, without projecting our constraints and expectations onto that person.  Theirs is a unique soul just like ours.  It’s about facilitating the process of self discovery in those we come into contact with.  Discovery of potential, passion, and purpose hidden in the soul since its origin.

Until next time…


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