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Sanni Lehto

Illness as a teacher

This blog post is written by Radical Honesty practitioner Sanni Lehto from Finland.

One of the biggest struggles of my life has been living with a chronic illness.

About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Since then, I have been searching for a cure. I’ve gone to many doctors and tried many antibiotics. Ate various diets and took supplements and followed several herbal protocols. Done self-healing techniques, brain rewiring, natural treatments… you name it.

Getting sick and losing the ability to do many of the things I love, to function as I used to, was a loss to me. I love sports and I used to be physically active. I used to go horseback riding, cycling, skiing, running, hiking, salsa dancing.

I also used to work as a waitress, which was a very physical job. I used to travel. I also used to overwork and often would burn myself out.

After getting sick, I was often very lonely, bored and desperate. Sitting at home depressed. I watched a lot of TV, waiting for better days to come. Waiting for a miracle. Feeling I was being excluded from life.

During those years, I started to write about my life, about my pain. I started to write poems and compose songs. Play guitar. And create puppet shows.

I found my creativity.

I found art.

I imagine without the illness, I would not have allowed myself to take time and space to do art. To do deep self-healing. To do stuff that I hadn’t felt encouraged by our society to do.

I imagine that my illness has helped me to say no to the expectations of society and to go my own way, to follow my own path.

My illness has been my catalyst for deep change. For deep transformation. Which is still ongoing today. Illness has been the catalyst for finding aspects of myself that were hidden, for finding my talents, my inner power, my creativity. My inner child. And to start healing my wounded parts.

Illness has been my guide to find my power, to find my passions, to find my life’s mission.

So often I had only seen my illness as a curse. Nowadays, I think of it also as a blessing. I used to spend a lot of money, time and energy trying to rid myself of my illness. I was resisting it. I tried fiercely to heal my body. I didn’t understand the deeper meaning of the illness.

After talking to my illness in an empty chair in Radical Honesty workshops and in a constellations workshop, I understood that my illness is here to serve me, to help me, to support me, to guide me. The illness said to me: “I will always stay close to you, in case you need support.”

My illness is here to heal me.

To help me heal deeply.

When I’ve talked to my illness, many times it has said that it’s just doing its work—its mission—and it’s not gonna leave me until the work is done. It has an important mission and won’t leave until it’s completed.

This had been a relief to hear yet also difficult to accept. I shouted at my illness: “I fucking hate you! I want you to go away! Fuck you!”

Then I made some sort of peace with this part of myself that is ill. And decided to cooperate with it.

I also decided to take more space for myself. Not to let the illness take it all. And this has shifted indeed, during the past year. I have shifted. Illness seems to be taking up less space in my life lately.

Illness had provided me with a hiding place. It worked as a handy alibi for me at times. It was my “ticket to freedom” when I didn’t want to grant that freedom to myself. It was there to help me say no to people and places that were not good for me. To set my boundaries. And to do what I want to do. Not what others wanted me to do.

Illness has been my coach, my teacher, my supporter. I have learned to ask for help. Which I still struggle with a lot. Radical Honesty has helped me in that, too. To ask for help from others. So maybe, in the future, I won’t need my illness for that so much anymore. ?

Lately, I realized I have been so unsafe the world, scared of people, that I had excluded myself from life in a way. Illness was a handy excuse for me to exclude myself. From the scary stuff, from a possible abandonment, rejection. Yet also from good stuff. When I hide from life, from the painful stuff, I also close myself out from all the good things.

I imagine my body is also my best friend and ally. It supports me with being true to myself and to my loved ones. If I withhold my anger, I start feeling sick quite fast. A lot of my symptoms have been suppressed emotions. Feeling fatigued, feeling powerless has been partly due to me suppressing my anger, my power. My life force. Radical Honesty has been my favorite tool to unlock my life force energy.

What I also think is that a lot of my fatigue and a lot of my bodily symptoms are a consequence of the freeze state. Me being in chronic stress, feeling unsafe, seeing people and the world as a threat.

With the help of Radical Honesty work, I believe I have created more safety in me, more relaxation in my body, less chronic tension, less chronic hyper-vigilance. And my body, my organs can function better and heal. Life force can flow in me as I start to connect with my body, with my inner child inside me, with my emotions and needs. And connect with the wisdom in me, about healing. My system knows how to heal. My job is to give it space, support it, be present and be patient. Get out of the way with my schedules, pressuring, hurrying.

I let my illness do its work and I do the work I am supposed to do with myself. ?

Sanni ?

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