Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Pheasant And The Neuro-Linguistic Programmer

Nothing happens in the Cotswolds. When I asked the a local reporter what crimes had happened in the last year, he said someone had broken into the phone box for change.

In the bucolic setting of a tiny village in the Cotswolds, England I learned to walk strongly again. My parents, understandably annoyed with my attitude about my then two-year diagnosis of multiple sclerosis took me there to be with my mom’s family. “We think you need cheering up,” my parents said. Oh no kidding! I had been torturing everyone from my parents to friends to even the police who came to my apartment door to ask me to plug my phone back into the wall and stop ignoring those who care for me. “We know it is devastating to learn you have a debilitating illness, but please don’t cut off everyone. And Alison, the door to your apartment was unlocked.” Fortunately I was on the third floor of a secure building or I might not be writing this.

The flight to England was eventful. I was sitting separated from my parents next to a man who did not stop drinking until he threw up and passed out. I hope the laws have changed regarding how much alcohol can be served on an international flight. His disturbing ten-hour drinking binge combined with my inability to rest may have contributed to my losing the ability to walk off the plane, but it’s hard to tell.

It was in 2000, prior to all the security changes implemented following the events of September 11, 2011. A helpful man in Heathrow airport got a wheelchair for me but he scolded my father. “Sir, if you don’t sit down, my supervisor will think I am getting this chair for you for no reason and I will get into trouble,” he said. My father cleared his throat and replied, “It’s for my daughter. She has multiple sclerosis.” The apologies were embarrassing for all of us. His face turned bright red, he kept fumbling about and we told him it was okay since one does not think of thirty-two year old woman who looks healthy as a person with a disability.

The subsequent visit with my family resulted in a much needed and fierce confrontation about my attitude. I credit my cousin with forcing me into her car and scaring the hell out of me driving some ninety miles an hour down a very narrow hedge lined country lane to world renowned Neuro-linguistic programmer Diana Beaver. To say her cottage was eccentric is an understatement. The place was a mish mash of knick knacks, antiques and uplifting sayings posted about her kitchen. I plopped down on a plush frayed couch and she confronted me right away. “What is you want, Alison?” “I want to be well,” I said. “Well, that’s easy enough. I want you to say out loud that you are well.” “I am well,” I said. “Good. We have that covered.”

The change in my thinking continued. “Please tell me what MS looks like to you and tell where around you it is placed.” I told her it was a black cloud to the left of my head. “Well, replace it then. What is a place you love?” I thought of Sherwood Forest where Robin Hood did all of his good deeds as well as the lovely lush green trees. “And where is Sherwood Forest located around you?” I told her it was to the right of my head. “Then look to the right and forget the left and if you traverse to the left, move to the right.”

It sounds simple enough. Then the work with Diana become more complex. She took me into her backyard with my cousin. Diana’s yard was surrounded by a brick wall built hundreds of years ago surely by underpaid non-union slaves who broke their backs lifting up all those stones. A festive looking pheasant ran back and forth across the wall the entire few hours I spent with her. It is interesting what happened next.

It’s hard to imagine that we live in an adult body stuffed with various ages of us. All human beings do. Sometimes we break out that five-year-old and get goofy, other times we are thirteen and self-absorbed and self conscious. Dianna had me walk around the yard leaving bits of me at various ages all over the garden. Then I was instructed to speak to each piece of me. “That three-year-old,” she said, “really needs some reassurance. You have completely scared her. Walk over there and pick her up and tell her you are going to take care of her.” I did exactly what Dianna told me to do.

This walking about the garden talking to myself at all ages sounds bizarre. However, it worked. I was walking all over the place after that. I even booked a flight to Dublin and spent nearly a full week there on my own. I had no need for a wheelchair, cane or anything. I came home about fifteen pounds lighter and person after person said I looked as though I had completely changed.

Was it the Neuro-linguistic programming? I have to say unequivocally it was just that. The connection between the mind and body is so incredibly strong. I had decided I had had enough. However, let’s not neglect the pheasant. There is a law in England. If you hit a pheasant you cannot pick it up and cook it. Only the person behind you can pick up the peasant and cook it. This is to prevent pheasant murder. I just thought I’d throw that fact into this story. –Alison Whiteman

Dinner and stew! Only if you are second behind the murderous car though. It's the law.

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