I first learned about refeeding syndrome reading Viktor Frankl’s The Search For Meaning, his memoir of surviving the Holocaust. When concentration camp survivors were first rescued and released from their starvation, many of them suffered fatalities if they overnourished their bodies too quickly.
Wikipedia explains the mechanics: “Refeeding syndrome is a syndrome consisting of metabolic disturbances that occur as a result of reinstitution of nutrition to patients who are starved, severely malnourished or metabolically stressed due to severe illness. When too much food and/or liquid nutrition supplement is consumed during the initial four to seven days of refeeding, this triggers synthesis of glycogen, fat and protein in cells, to the detriment of serum (blood) concentrations of potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Cardiac, pulmonary and neurological symptoms can be signs of refeeding syndrome. The low serum minerals, if severe enough, can be fatal.”
The same can happen on a spiritual level as well. It’s why some quantum leaps short-circuit us if they’re too great, how some ceremonies can be so intense that they risk rendering us speechless, shellshocked by the experience of God.
A shaman once told me a story. “If enlightenment is so great, why don’t we all want it, all at once? Well, imagine you are pouring sugar into a cup of tea. You can only handle so much sugar until it becomes too sweet, undrinkable. So too can we only handle so much enlightenment – as long as we still believe we are the teacup. The trick is to remember that we are the ocean, and no amount of sugar is too much for us to hold.”
Most people aren’t actually aware of how incapable they are at present of receiving the things they say they want. And so too, most people aren’t aware of how capable they are, in aptitude, of receiving the things they say they want. If they did, they’d be there already – or they’d be terrified of it and sour grapes themselves into settling for mediocrity, disdaining the very things they’d just claimed to want once they realized what receiving them entailed.
Our biological organism exists to protect us from disappointment. Brene Brown speaks of foreboding joy: “Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience,” Brown says. “And if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is you start dress rehearsing tragedy.”
This is why I always say that healing hurts and journeys take time. Expect to be broken open and humbled. Expect the opening of your heart to be the most disorienting thing you’ve ever experienced. Expect your eyeballs to melt clean out your head.
Look yall, I called in my Higher Self two years ago. As long as I’m aware of what’s happening, I’m not wired for self-sabotage. I committed to this path and it would be, quite literally, antithetical to my DNA to shut down or go in reverse. I’m just pacing myself with what I can handle, being gentle and realistic with my timing as much as necessary while still holding myself to my growth.
But if any of this sounds scary or familiar – or worse, unfamiliar – to you, please know there is guidance available. You will need people to hold your hand through this, and sadly, not everyone in your life will be capable of holding space for your expansion without their trauma bonds getting in the way.
It’s pretty rare that anyone warns you how to sherpa your body through the terror of your dreams coming true. Magick always surprises you when it works.
If this is a path you want to follow, that you know will take every ounce of your courage but will also expose you to the sheer awe of grace, I encourage you to join us in The Re-Patterning Project this summer. We go over refeeding syndrome in week 3. I don’t want to be the only one over here feeling like I’m one more miracle away from taking to the streets dancing holding a sign about Jesus, you feel me? Joy is vulnerable.
I’m constantly blown away by how the work pays off.
If this resonates with you, or even if it downright confuses you but does so in a way that makes you want to know more, then let’s chat about that. If you’re called to this journey, you know it. If I’m the one meant to guide you through it, you know that too. Let’s make it happen.