You’re either in the Poison Ivy Club or you’re not. You either get it, or you don’t.
My husband has never gotten poison ivy. (How is this possible?)
I, on the other hand, have had it anywhere you can see skin on my body. (And even where you can’t.)
If you’re in the Poison Ivy Club, then you can out-story my stories. And I can out-story your stories.
In the Poison Ivy Club, our mantra is “You think that’s bad? Well, there was one time when…” Get us together at a party, and it can turn X-rated in seconds. A veritable plant porn phone sex demo. Our voices get almost throaty as we share our, “up my”, “in my”, “between my”, and “all over my” erotica. These circles invariably start when one poor sot shows up at said party with poison ivy, say, on his neck. Someone in the club will examine it and exclaim, “Aw, that’s nothing! You shouldda seen me last summer when it went up my…”
But that’s not what today’s post is about.
Today, I’m here to tell you that I haven’t gotten poison ivy in over two years. I’m here to describe the last three times I was exposed to it. And I’m here to withdraw my membership from the Poison Ivy Club.
Take it. Leave it. Apply it to your own life. Or write a smartass comment. (Colin, that’d be you.)
Three times ago:
It was one of those times. One of the bad ones.
I had been weeding in my garden. It appeared on the insides of my forearms. By evening, it had moved to my stomach. Then to my thighs. Being a devotee of alternative medicine, I tried every external and internal natural remedy out there: homeopathics, Chinese herbs from my acupuncturist, jewel weed, detoxifying teas, flower remedies, and sitting in bath water filled with random flecks of organic flotsam.
Then I moved onto the hard stuff: Caladryl and Soft Scrub.
It got worse.
After 10 days, I could no longer move, and I had a friend’s upcoming wedding to attend.
I called my Ob-Gyn. (She and my dentist are the only medical doctors I’ve got.) I showed up at her office in tears. My thighs looked like science fiction. It made her wince. She set me up with Prednisone, which promptly disappeared the poison ivy, and gave me a high like I had never before experienced. I stayed up most of the night in a productivity binge that would’ve made stand up and cheer, all the while marveling at the wonders of prescription drugs.
I made the wedding, and I also crashed and burned when the prescription ran out. Over the course of the next year, I caught every flu, virus, and cold meme that came around the bend. Prednisone wipes out your immune system. This is why I resisted taking it. I don’t deny its power to cure symptoms, but I vowed I wouldn’t take it again.
Two times ago:
It was about to be one of those times.
There it was. In its usual starting place on the insides of my forearms, with patches in all the other usual spots.
I had been consciously shifting my old patterns of thinking and my usual emotional set points for about a year. (Think Wayne Dyer on Prednisone.) I saw the Poison Ivy as a challenge to show what was happening inside my head, not just on my body.
There were three parts to the subsequent lesson I learned:
Part 1 – I grabbed my well-worn copy of Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. (In the back, there’s a list of illnesses, and her interpretation of the thought patterns that cause them.)
This book has always been a great starting place. If I sense Louise is onto something, I use it as a way to go deeper into my own patterns for the cause. Her Probable Cause for Poison Ivy is “Feeling defenseless and open to attack.” Her suggestion for the New Thought Pattern is: “I am powerful, safe, and secure. All is well.”
That felt somewhat right, but it didn’t go deep enough. I definitely had trust issues with the changes in my life. I was transforming old thoughts. I was having major issues with an employee. And I was exhausted from touring.
Part 2 – My friend Christy is a medical intuitive and an energy healer. She volunteered to come over.
When she first sat down with me, she said, “Hmmm. Is it possible that you’ve got some anger?” That began a major shift. Yea, I had anger. I was furious at my employee. I felt under attack. And I was angry at myself for my inaction. I expressed my frustrations, and I let Christy work on me for about an hour.
Part 3 – That night I was on the sofa considering Louise Hay’s affirmations.
I repeated various affirmations and listened to my body respond to each one. Finally, I recognized that I needed to trust myself and this process and let go of the fear that I’d have to take Prednisone again. The fear, on top of the anger, was making my symptoms worse.
So, I created what has now become my very favorite healing affirmation:
“My body knows exactly what to do.”
As soon as I said it softly to myself that night, the pain went away. It was almost like a salve being put on the patches. I could feel the rash begin to shrink. The more I said it, the more I felt at peace. In about two days, the poison ivy had reduced to dry patches of scratchiness here and there. And I didn’t get it again that summer.
I was picking blackberries with my husband two summers ago. We were standing in thick weeds and tall grasses. I was completely taken by the beauty of the blackberries when I looked around me to discover that I was standing in a giant hill of poison ivy. It was blowing against my legs and my arms. It seemed to be grabbing for me. I felt the panic seize my throat. I shouted at my husband. And he calmly said, “Decide now that you aren’t going to get it.”
I stood still. I stood in the patch and I silently told myself, “My body knows exactly what to do.”
I believe the stories of the Yogis who drink arsenic and don’t get poisoned. And I don’t think Yogis alone have that power. I called on that power for myself. And I simply got clear that I wasn’t going to allow the illusion of poison ivy to dominate the power of my own mind.
I stepped calmly out of the patch. Throughout the night, the panicky voices would show up with their torches pounding at my door. “Be scared!” they would shout. “The poison ivy is coming!” I simply asked them to go away. I gently escorted them out of my head, as I quietly repeated, “My body knows exactly what to do.”
Since then, I have hiked through the stuff. I’ve watched my dog walk through it. (And I hug her many times a day.) I’ve weeded tons of times. And I haven’t had even the tiniest patch on my skin. I know there’s a chance that I simply haven’t been exposed again. I promise to keep you posted if I ever get it.
But really, I know that something inside me simply changed. Something inside me “got it.” I don’t feel vulnerable to it anymore.
The biggest take-away is this: I know what it feels like to set an intention and not be bowled over by external elements – be they thoughts, people, or plant life. I can’t do it with everything in my life, but I’ve now experienced that power with several things. This is one of them.
Next on the list — Mosquitoes!