Lessons in Lyme… Let Go of the Dross and Take Hold of the Gold
A fellow Lyme disease survivor once said to me that Lyme is “more strenuous than running a marathon and more demanding than working an 80 hour week”. Having endured multiple tick bites in the heart of Lyme country, no quote has described my battle more accurately.
Having been misunderstood by the medical community and even others in my life, Lyme shook me to the core of my being. During the shaking process, I eventually saw the opportunity to shed the “dross” that I had carried throughout my life. The dross simply refers to the emotional baggage that we all carry that often remains hidden; that is, until something draws it out. For me, it was years in the fiery furnace of the Lyme disease complex that drew the dross to the surface.
The dross never belonged to me anyway, but it was simply the result of knee-jerk responses that I learned throughout this journey called life. Lyme eventually became the vehicle from which the dross of fear, negative thoughts, impatience, unforgiveness, unhealthy people- pleasing tendencies, and a performance-based identity rose to the surface from within me.
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As the infections enabled the dross to surface, I had the opportunity to hold on to these unhealthy traits, emotions and false belief systems since they seemed part of my identity. After all, many of these things had been with me my entire life and would rear their ugly heads only once in a while. While the infections sparked a myriad of mental and physical symptoms, it seemed these little monsters would surface more frequently as I battled for survival. I realized that people-pleasing tendencies would repeatedly knock at my door, and responding to them would come at a cost to my health. Intuitively, I soon recognized that my physical body would be helped tremendously by shedding these pollutants from my soul.
Prior to contracting Lyme disease, these human weaknesses had not been having a major effect upon me, but now that I was sick, I realized there was more at stake if I allowed them free reign. Holding on to fear and anxiety would hinder my healing process and in some cases, amplify my symptoms. I realized that I could choose to wallow in victim land, and stuff the dross back down. However, that was not for me! I found that the dross would only resurface again, looking for me to play the star role of dancing with the dross in an unending cycle of defeat.
I decided I could help my body to heal and shed these impurities from my core. Although my brain chemistry had been negatively affected by Lyme I decided that this would not be an excuse to hold on to the emotional traits that would work against thehealing process. I learned the delicate balance between being able to identify the negative attributes and then releasing them, instead of pushing them back down beneath the surface. I learned to become a referee; a so- called guardian of my heart and soul, who could make choices that would bring lasting benefits.
As I was learning to apply this newfound skill to my life, I found that some days I was more successful than others. However, the more I practiced shedding the dross, the more my true identity emerged. It became an opportunity to clean house and let my true nature come forward. I was using my pain as a weapon to bring forth gain. As the dross was being stripped away, it became easier for me to remain at peace, and I became more accepting of myself despite my imperfections. Self-doubt and people-pleasing tendencies diminished, and the performance-based identity was destroyed. I was pressing into life the best way I knew how, and it was taking on a new meaning. I began to be thankful for things I once took for granted.
Although there is still more dross within me that needs to be shed, and more of who God created me to be that needs to come forth, I have wholeheartedly submitted to the process. Healing is a journey, not an event. Through pain, patience and perseverance, every moment becomes a potential jewel on the string of pearls called life. I encourage you today to submit to the healing process by letting go of the dross, and reaching for the gold. Your body and soul will thank you that you did.
Sharon Tierney leads a local Lyme disease support group in Upstate New York, and maintains a community Facebook page called All Things New . She also leads Christian prayer groups.