Listening to my body

Today my insides are tense and I feel hyper-vigilant. I don’t know what is causing this feeling. I’ve had a good morning so far. Nothing is obvious.

 But if I believe that my body is telling me truths, then perhaps I don’t yet understand its language?

 In the past two years , let’s call it the marriage crisis period, I have learned so much about my feelings, motivations, thoughts, desires, emotional needs and drivers; but I haven’t taken much note of my body.

 As I’ve read ‘Embracing the Body’ I’ve realised that so much of what happened with the other in my story was a re-connection, or perhaps a first time connection of myself with my body. 

By the time the other appeared in my life I had become utterly disconnected from my body in every way. My body was no more than an inconvenience that was more often than not, sore or tired, overweight or underweight.

I’m not sure when the disconnect happened although I suspect it’s been there for most of my life.

I self declared as ‘not sporty’ very young, so I grew up not realizing that physical activity was actually a place where (I now know) I am most fully myself.

I was brought up in an evangelical tradition, banned from wearing make up, nail polish or skirts above the knee until I was 18 and had left home so I absorbed the message that it was wrong for me, or anyone else, to pay attention to my body. Good girls didn’t let men admire their bodies, and so I suppose I viewed my body as negative if I thought of it at all.

Bodies were dangerous. A childhood friend was abducted and murdered when I was 8 years old and the world was a scary place after that. Men frightened me.

And then life progressed and I met and married my husband and I still didn’t connect to my body in any way other than to appreciate its functionality or become frustrated with the defects it seemed to carry.

I had 4 pregnancies and 3 children. My body almost let me down giving birth to my first and we were lucky she survived. My third pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Numbers 2 and 4 were delivered by C section and I didn’t feel very proud of my body for that.

With pregnancy, breast feeding and exhaustion, came the years of weight gain, weight loss, weight gain. Parts of my body expanded whilst other parts stayed the same. Much of me became unrecognizable, even to myself.

Maybe I found it easier to distance than to care.

And gradually as life continued and the pressures grew to include children with chronic health problems, my view of bodies, including my own, was that bodies let us down. Constantly.

Which is why when someone came along and noticed that, even though I wasn’t aware of it, I needed all the physical parts of me nourished with sights and smells and flavours and sounds and touch, I literally fell into his arms.

All the things we got from each other were sensory and involved our bodies. Together we enjoyed tastes and smells, sounds and sights. We contrived to cook for each other on a number of occasions (always with other people present) but on each occasion I was cooking for him, wanting to give him the experience of new flavours, and I knew he was cooking for me. Our relationship was full of ‘taste this’ and ‘have you ever smelled’ that. It had begun with song links emailed to each other saying ‘you have to listen to this track’. It incorporated art and nature and star gazing and vicarious appreciation of what the other was seeing or experiencing. By the time we did finally touch each other, the already created intimacy was almost overwhelming.

I knew that those were the things I loved about being with him, but I didn’t realize it was because I’d disconnected from my body so completely, that the re-discovery of its goodness meant that I saw him as the bringer of all the good, new experiences; rather than those being the God intended experiences my body was created for. 

I confused the two.

All I knew was that my life had suddenly become rich beyond recognition. I wrote to him saying that I had forgotten that I was full of colour and that he had reminded me of that fact. It’s a cliché but it was a move from black and white viewing to full colour 3D .

I thought the relationship was the wonderful catalyst.

I thought he was some sort of wonderful man who was changing my life utterly.

I believed that for a long time and therefore his consequent rebuttal of what had happened left me utterly devastated because I thought that with it went every good thing that I had rediscovered.

I didn’t know if I could have them without him, or whether his denials made falsehood out of all I’d believed was real.

And when I look back at that time of relationship with the other, I also know that my body was telling me truths that I ignored:

It told me that what I was doing was not good for me. I found it difficult to eat and to sleep. I had fairly constant stomach pains. I lost weight.

Today, 19 months on from the relationship’s end, I can finally see, quite clearly, that everything that I loved that was good in that relationship, was because I re-discovered my body.

I claimed it and enjoyed it. I began to love my body and all that it allowed me to experience.

I’m still re-discovering my body and learning to love it. A few days ago as I cycled in the rain with my husband (for fun – nobody was making us do it!)  we reached the top of a steep hill. At that moment, as my breathing was the loudest sound we could hear, my body was sweaty and the rain was bouncing off my bare arms, I felt alive and happy and whole. My body was working hard. It was doing what it’s been created to do. I was breathing in huge breaths of oxygen, and the constant drops of water were ensuring that I remained fully present in that moment of my life.

I see the redemption .

The redemption of my body, my memories, my experiences, my brokenness .

As I’ve written this post my anxiety has decreased.

I’ve heard God as I’ve poured these words onto the page.

As my fingers move quickly across the keyboard the Spirit has intercepted the feelings and bodily sensations and used them to communicate with me.

I see the redemption .

The redemption of my body, my memories, my experiences, my brokenness .

I understand my body right now as tears come.

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that I have come to know this God who is so loving, so tender, and so freaking creative that he put eternity in the hearts, and bodies, of man and woman. 

#EmbracingtheBody

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10 thoughts on “Listening to my body

    1. Thank you . It’s real and redemptive but it did feel a little vulnerable putting it out in public. I did so hoping that by telling my story other people might see the moments of grace and redemption in their own. Bodies and our relationship with them are so complex aren’t they ? And because we don’t talk about them much in spiritual terms it can feel quite awkward to include them in the discussion. The book ‘Embracing the Body’ ( Tara Owens) is a really good and challenging and life changing read 🙂 Thanks for letting me know you found this post resonated x

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  1. This is amazing! What an important realisation. I’ve been thinking of my relationship with my body recently, and this has helped some of my thoughts. I think this will be huge for others reading. Nice work, lady.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is amazing Tanya, isn’t it ???!!! I’m glad it helped you with body thoughts. I suspect I’ll be having body thoughts for a long time as the book stirs the depths of me. Let’s keep having the conversations. and thank you for encouraging me in the sharing of a vulnerable ( and maybe because of that), yet powerful post. Do share if you think it will be of help to others x

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