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The Body Truce...

I think early trauma causes one to have unhealthy issues with one’s own body. Like somehow your body is held responsible for the trauma.  Like it was its fault.  It wasn’t, you know this, but somehow it ends up holding the bag anyway.

It makes sense the body keeps the score for what the mind cannot or chooses not to handle.  The poor body is left standing there, a sentinel for the real history of yourself.  Waiting to be attended to until years or decades later.  It waits, patiently, sometimes.  Other times, it creates cancer or other life threatening illness to force one to deal with the trauma that has lie unbidden for years.

This is what I believe.  I believe that the emotional traumas lie dormant within us waiting for us to pick them up, examine them and then heal them.  When we languish in forever, instead of healing action, the body has no choice but to become ill.  This isn’t a blaming thing, it is just what happens when we leave angst ridden emotional wounds to fester beneath our surface forever.  Sometimes, we don’t even know we are doing it.  We don’t know these emotional wounds are even present,   That is how good we are at distracting and deluding ourselves.

But I have come to believe that the body always keeps the score. And all those emotional scars take their toll upon a body.  And the best and most healthy thing I can do is to find the courage to unearth them, to dig them up beneath my own skin, save them from their perilous existence beneath my skin.  If I am unable to find such courage, I will become ill.  Mentally, physically, sexually and spiritually.  This belief has born out time and time again in my own life and in others.  Trauma unprocessed leads to pervasive unwellness.

It took me a long time to come to terms with this.  It took me a very long time on therapist's couches and chairs and floors to heal that which lie hidden beneath my surface.  In the beginning I needed alcohol to bury it, and then I needed alcohol to release it.  And I found without booze, I had no access at all, for years.

I remember when I took on the task of doing somatic work...I found a therapist and committed to the process.  I was not ready...but I began anyway.  I would go in, get as comfortable as one could in that situation, lie down and begin.

She would ask me how I felt and I would tell her what I thought.  She would ask me again, what I felt and I would tell her, again, what I thought.  There was no escape for either of us.  I did not have access to what I felt.  I only had access to the mind.  The whole mind/body connection was completely disconnected for me.  She couldn’t get access to my body, because I couldn’t gain access to my body.  A long time before the two were separated for my own well being and reuniting these two proved to be a lifelong task.  And a very painful one at that.

While that therapy was rather unsuccessful, I mean how many times can you lie there having the same inane discussion?  “How do you feel?  Well I think...”  

I swear if someone had a gun to my head I couldn’t have given a different answer.  I didn’t have access to how I felt and trying to ascertain where feelings resided in my body was absolutely impossible to me at that time!  In fact, it wasn’t until a heartbreaking breakup five years later that I even knew that emotional pain resided right behind my belly button for me.  That when I was distraught or unhinged that my body experienced it there.  And I learned that sitting in my bed one night in the middle of a heartbreaking loss. Not on some therapist’s couch.

It has taken me a very long time to come to even know my body.  I mean I take it everywhere I go but my acquaintance with it was merely a passing one.  I didn’t know how it felt, because I treated it like it was some sort of prison I was trying to escape from.  There was no temple like feeling for me.  I was a super max inhabitant attempting to elude and escape my jailer...daily.

I was unkind to my body.  I treated it as the afterthought it was.  I starved it, fed it crap, caused it to not sleep for days on end.  I poured whisky and beer all over it, repeatedly.  I put it in dangerous situations with men and cars and bars and the like.  I didn’t drink water because I was always drinking beer.  Beer is not water as it turns out.  I chain smoked cigarettes until I developed asthma and chronic bronchitis.  I took many risks, uncalculated risks with my body, and mind.  Anyone who watched me knew that I couldn’t love myself very much, if at all.  It was not hard to see how very much I hated me.  Just look at the way I treated my body, while it kept the score waiting for me to stop the constant and unrelenting abuse.

Healing this body of mine and finding some sort of tentative peace with it has been a life long journey for me.  It hasn’t been easy or a constant upward trajectory.  There have been many backslides.  I traded smoking and booze for sugar and caffeine.  I abused those for so rivaled alcohol and nicotine.  But somewhere in all the running and hiding and attempting to square myself up with my own hostly body, I have come to a truce of sorts.  It isn’t a completely tentative peace, but it isn’t secure either.  It is more of a daily thing with which I have to prioritize and commit to...every day, all the time.

Today I limit my caffeine, I limit my sugar, I get plenty of exercise and rest.  I have to work at it because I am a person of extremes so I tend to go too far in any direction I move.  Always moving towards healthy reconstruction or the killing self destruction.  I appear caught on this continuum forever.

But I have learned, painfully, slowly, repeatedly, that in order to heal the mind, the body must be considered.  In fact, the healing of the mind helps so much with the healing of the body.  29 years ago, I crawled into recovery grossly under weight but bloated to the point of looking ten pounds over weight.  My lungs were shot, my liver was not functioning, my triglycerides were off the fucking chart and I was only 25.  In 25 years  of living, I had so abused my self and body so much that my test results showed the kind of results that someone much older should have produced.    My body was screaming what my mind hushed.  And for me, the mind always won.

But a long my path to recovery I have learned to listen to my love it, to take care of it, to become one within it.  It has not been easy.  It is not a forever kind of peace.  This existence within my own skin is a very tentative truce.  The kind that can explode into controversy and disgust.  And I will tell you I am not kind to myself when disgust lands in my mind...and to be sure, that disgust will leave its mark upon my body...every single time.  

I want to tell you how I got here but I really do not know.  It was some magical combination of therapy, exercise, healing, and living better than I ever have before. Today, I inhabit myself. This I know to be true.  In the best and most intensive ways, I am present in my skin to the best of my ability every single day.  My body kept the score until I was willing to really take a closer look at the tally.  And then I was appalled.  And then I did my level best to ignore it.  And then I finally allowed my body to tell me all that it needed to, and I changed the way I looked at it.  It wasn’t a tool to be used, it was a temple to cared for and that simple but profound thought change, changed everything for me.



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