A Burning Constitution
I came into this world with an abundance of fire energy. In Ayurvedic philosophy, I am a Pitta dosha — constitutionally made up of more fire than water, earth, or air.
Like fire in the outer world, my inner fire gives me heat that translates into passion and enthusiasm. It gives me drive and determination.
It also, occasionally, gives me hives.
I’m not talking about a few hives on my skin that go away after a few days. They are stubborn and deep and will not be chased away by some over-the-counter antihistamines or itch cream, either. No, when I get hives, they cover my entire body, are as hot as fire pokers, and itchy as poison ivy. The only thing that makes them go away is a course of potent steroids.
That — and a little ol’ life transformation.
Time to Reevaluate
The record length of time hives have visited me is six months — months in which every single day began with evaluating just how bad they are and how that will limit my activities for the day.
When hives come to visit, the daily pain means that I cannot focus on external matters. I cannot keep going the way I am going.
Trust me when I say I’ve tried everything to make them go away and get back to living my life exactly as I was. I’ve been to allergists and dermatologists. I’ve tried elimination diets, oatmeal baths, aloe vera, cucumber water. Any food or body treatment touted to reduce inflammation has at one point in time been in my rotation of things that are touted to work. They don’t — at least, not permanently.
Through the multiple episodes in my life, I’ve learned that there is only one thing that eliminates my hives for good: a full-blown re-evaluation about how I’m navigating my life, setting my priorities, and focusing my direction.
Passion and Power Turned Inside Out
“Bitterness is like cancer, it eats upon its host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” Maya Angelou
In Ayurvedic wisdom, it is understood that inflammatory diseases often have to do with repressed emotions — oftentimes, anger. Only by expressing our emotions in a healthy way — making different life choices, walking away from toxic relationships, etc. — can we truly cool down the body.
Faced with life-long medication and suffering on one hand or a full-blown life transformation on the other, I chose transformation.
So, the hives were not coming to torture me (though occasionally, that’s what I believed). They were merely expressing that the fire within me was in danger of being snuffed out forever. That I was becoming desensitized to my emotions. I was giving my emotions no outlet, so they flared up within.
In hindsight, it’s clear to see that each time the hives came, it was because instead of challenging the status quo, I was starting to fitting in. Instead of mobilizing my power, I was abdicating it to people that didn’t really matter in my life. Instead of taking a leadership role — as someone with a fire constitution is designed to do — I was sidelining myself out of fear and uncertainty. The hives were my passion, my truth, and my power, turned inside out. I was a dragon, burning myself up from the inside. I wasn’t putting my voice and gifts to their fullest use. I was out of alignment with who I really was.
Faced with life-long medication and suffering on one hand or a full-blown life transformation on the other, I chose transformation. I empowered myself to walk away from work I was involved in that didn’t feed my soul. I cut off certain relationships or redefined them in healthier ways. I stopped succumbing to the demands and expectations of society and instead began listening to the needs of my body and the desires of my soul. I found ways to channel my fire through writing, physical exercise, and through passionate discussions and cultural activism. To keep my body from flaring up on the inside, I began expressing myself on the outside.
Painful as each episode was, I emerged stronger, wiser, and truer to my authentic self. I began to speak up on behalf of my emotions. I lost my fear of speaking truth to power.
A Healthy and Happy Inner Fire
I am happy to say that I have not had hives since 2014 — which correlates to the time in my life when I claimed the fullness of my humanity and my voice as part of my purpose. This was when I began writing and sharing my stories online. When I started heeding my calling rather than getting caught up in egoic or fanciful desires. And when I began to know what it felt like to live in alignment with my authenticity and integrity.
Rather than hives burning me up, I now blaze a trail in front of me.
My body wasn’t ever going to let my abundance of fire go to waste in this world. I’m grateful for the reflection they’ve forced upon me. Thankful for what they’ve taught me about who I am.
I am indebted to the wisdom of my body for guiding me to my most authentic life.