I can't believe I'm saying this but...Sunday night I was home alone and therefore had total control of the television. Therefore, I got to watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians without any witnesses which, really, is the best way to enjoy that particular guilty pleasure. I also got to watch the Oprah interview of the family on OWN (Part 1 was last week, Part 2 is this Sunday - woot!)
Anyway, don't judge me! They're fun!
And, oddly enough, the show illustrated to me something I already knew, which is the crucial importance of speaking your truth.
You see, Robert Kardashian was the biological father of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney. He passed away in 2003. He was a lead defense attorney and very close friend to OJ Simpson. The other lead defense attorney in that case was Johnny Cochran. He died in 2005 after defending not only OJ but a slew of celebrity clients that included Michael Jackson, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and Tupac Shakur.
My point in all this talk of celebrity drama is that it occurred to me as I watched the show that it is in no way coincidental that both of these attorneys died a decade or less after the conclusion of that trial. Robert Kardashian died of esophageal cancer, Cochran died of a brain tumor.
When I was a child I wanted to be a lawyer but part of the reason why I never made that leap was because I was unable to decide which side of the courtroom - plaintiff or defense - I would fit on. Both prosecution and defense have huge upsides and downsides. Defending innocent clients appealed to my nature but prosecuting the bad guys sounded pretty good too. To this day, I still don't' know which side is the "good" side.
When I look at these men I think about all the secrets they carried. I saw a clip from an interview with Kardshian where he was directly asked if OJ was guilty. You could see the struggle on his face. His answer was that he had very serious doubts of OJ's innocence. It was the closest thing to a confession he could give.
As far as Cochran is concerned, just looking at his client list, it's not exactly a leap to see that the people he defended were most likely guilty and he knew it. He just so happened to be extremely good at his job as well as willing to push the envelope hard to get the win.
Louise Hay is a brilliant author and therapist who has dedicated her life to the study of disease. In her book You Can Heal Your Life, she has an appendix that lists virtually every disease and health issue you can think of alongside its psychological root and an affirmation that is intended to help treat or cure said disease. I love Louise Hay. In fact, I recommend, go ahead and get a copy of that book because she is amazing and explains the Law of Attraction beautifully.
To get back to my point (rambling though it may be today) - Your body does not lie. It can't. It holds your truth in a metaphorical and physical sense. So Robert Kardashian dying of esophageal cancer makes perfect sense to me - he never fully spoke his truth. He held the secrets of his client and friend and I believe it eventually cost him his life. The throat is the center of communication and I believe he desperately wanted to get that horror out of him but because of his profession he held it until it formed the cancer that killed him.
Johnny Cochran, arguably the most famous defense attorney of my time, died of a brain tumor. Again, not a surprise to me. I cannot even begin to fathom the secrets that man carried and swore to protect. He couldn't tell anyone but I bet he thought about it a lot. I wonder if he beat himself up mentally for all the heinous perpetrators he defended successfully. I bet he did. Because no matter how slimy attorneys can be, they are still human at the end of the day. They still have loved ones. The knowledge this man carried literally killed him from a metaphorical and physiological standpoint.
These cases are extreme, no doubt about it. But that's why they make good examples.
So what does this mean for me? Or you? As a therapist I have sworn to protect my clients life stories, help them uncover their truth, and eventually live it. But with the good, there is the bad. I have to carry their secrets and shame as well. Luckily, I don't have any murderers. And if I did, I'm protected when I go report that to the police.
But I do have to keep secrets that are not a risk to society such as affairs, abuse, abortions, self-injury in the form of cutting or burning or myriad other options, and even criminal activities so long as they are not homicidal or suicidal in nature. Or if someone is hurting animals because I will report their asses faster than you can say scum of the earth. (Also, side note, I'm pro-choice, but that doesn't actually make things much easier. Especially when we're talking about teenagers.)
So I worry sometimes that holding onto all this junk has a price. The good news is, in every other area of my life, I get to live as my authentic self. I don't have to pretend to be something or someone I'm not. I'm never going to get fired from my job for dressing the wrong way or taking time off or not being a team player. I'm incredibly lucky to have balance as well as a really good defensive shield around my heart so no matter what I see or hear, I'm able to process it and if necessary, see my therapist or blog about it. Angrily.
But what about everybody else? What are you holding on to right now that could be hurting you in ways you've never imagined? It is not a coincidence that when we are upset our stomach hurts or we develop tension headaches or even migraines. When you are in physical or emotional pain, do a body scan - literally close your eyes and mentally scan your body from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet - and notice what hurts. When you find the source of that pain, hold your hands over it, breathe into it, and ask your body what it needs. You may be shocked by what you hear or see in your mind's eye when you really get quiet and ask. Your body will communicate to you. It's already trying, you just have to learn how to listen. And when you get that message it may surprise you. There is no wrong or right to what you see or hear. You may see a beach with white sand and blue water. Maybe you need a vacation.
Or maybe you see the faces of loved ones, or your inner child, or memories of times you thought long forgotten. Whatever you see is your truth coming at you the best way it can. At that point, it becomes your responsibility to make whatever your body is begging for happen. So what if you can't afford a vacation in paradise? Go outside. Play golf. Mini golf if you're like me and you hate chasing that stupid little ball around a giant course. It doesn't matter how you do it, it only matters that you take the action. Because it's important. Because you matter and so does your health - physically and mentally.
You can't help anyone else unless and until you've made sure your own needs are met. Burning yourself out or refusing to take care of yourself is actually selfish because it will eventually force others to take care of you when you break down. Which you will. We all do when things get to breaking point. So don't let that happen to you. Take the risk, ask for what you need, then follow up and do it. The length and quality of your life may depend on it.