Secondary Gain, and the Path to Deep Healing, Happiness and Life
My father, blessed his heart, used to work too hard. In his forties and fifties he could not allow himself a vacation. Also, he wasn't very good at the family thing, where people didn't salute and take orders and understand the Hierarchy, with him on top, giving orders and the rest of us obeying. His work was with the famous military industrial complex, making jets and then missiles and whatnot for the great competition with the bad guys things that kept him and many others at work in both this country and the bad guy bloc. And he functioned best in a semi-military, top down world. The family, especially our nutty family was topsy turvy, not top down.
That's a bit of an aside.
The point: no vacation.
Lots of fighting with my Mom.
Not much peace in the family.
Okay: how to solve these problems. Well, one way would have been to take vacations and figure out how to communicate in a listening and give and take and mutually respectful family atmosphere. But that would have required real inner change. That wasn't the route my father took.
He took the route of secondary gain and got heart attacks every several years.
These solved all the above problems temporarily.
He got a break from work.
The family became deeply solicitous and realized how important and wonderful he was.
My Mom and he stopped fighting, and she assumed a Florence Nightingale role vis a vis him. (They met when he was sunburning at a country club pool an d she came to his rescue with sun tan lotion.)
So, this happens a lot. We don't know to sit down or lie down, so a disease comes along and brings us to our knees.
We don't know how to get the attention and gentleness we want so we fall apart and then it's forthcoming.
Or maybe, it's different, less linear: we have been attention starved for years (all the attention to our real arms and legs and moving and breathing and whatnot that we do in Feldenkrais and in slow and conscious yoga is that much less attention we need from outside ourselves.) And we've eaten a diet full of pesticides and sugar and refined flour, the three main elements Western Price discovered in the 1930's were the crucial difference in native cultures health deteriorating into the land of cancer and heart attacks and degenerative diseases. (See my prior essay: Food and Health.) So we come down with something heavy.
The disease is real. And a shift in our stress level and our eating and caring for ourselves has to take place, but we've got the secondary gain thing going, because now that we are the Diseased One, we are suddenly getting the attention and pampering we've been craving forever and ever.
So what's the Way Out?
I have other essays on what to do if you have cancer, which can be a start for those with any serious setback illness. June 24, 2006 essay. And June 26, 2006 essay. All sorts of ideas in there. This is part of the way out. (Reading those essays, they aren't quite as good as I'd like, so next essay in this blog will be a series on Radical Healing, but they are a start.)
And another part is getting a sense of humor about how part of us is a big baby and is using this illness to remain a big baby. Talk to those who are taking care of us and come to realize: they will love and pay attention to us even if we aren't ill.
Get well by shifting all sorts of things. (See the index of all the essays blog, at Health Blog Index.)To change we have to change. And, of course, the rewiring of the brain and improvement of the entire nervous system that comes from the Feldenkrais Way, and the coming to the present that comes from Wake Up Feldenkrais are tremendously useful in this.
Mainly though, we need a commitment to loving life, to being present, and to enjoying the journey of change that we are going to need to take to get healthy again. And part of that journey is going to have to be a humorous and honest understanding of our secondary gains.
Love and healing to us all.