Thursday, May 10, 2007

I love my body!

I love my body now, though over the course of my lifetime, I haven't always loved it. As a kid, it seemed to fail me more ways than I care to recall. I think I just accepted that bodies are weak in general, and my genetics dictate my health so there's nothing I can do about it.

I was sexually abused as a kid but I did not know there was a correlation between the abuse and how my body reacted. I had constipation that hospitalized me. I didn't even know it was constipation, I just knew that when the stomachaches came, it was the equivalent of a migraine. I couldn't do anything and it would plague me at the most random times. I needed my stomach rubbed pretty hard to relieve the agony that I experienced. Castor oil, Metamucil, and tons of carrots did not help. Even bran cereal didn't help enough.

As I got older, the stomachaches went away, and I never thought about it. When my mom told me that my cousin suffered similar constipation that was from sexual abuse, I put two and two together. Wow. So that's why I was constipated. Whatever protection I created for myself ended up being physical as well. I was so protected that nothing could get out, either.

I also wet the bed for a while as a kid. Again, I never thought to relate it to the fact that I didn't cry very much (I wanted to be strong!) but I read in a self-help book that kids who don't cry have a good chance of being bed-wetters. Who knew? I guess it has to get out somehow.

I have always felt that my body had a lot of resilency and I did not feel limited in any way. I played soccer for 10 years, lugged furniture all over the house (I like to move furniture around), biked, and was generally athletic and healthy. I rarely got sick, I only broke my nose in a car accident and my finger in a car door (darn cars...), and felt pretty good.

When I was 21 and working full time in AmeriCorps (mostly a desk job), I began to feel twinges in my back. I knew I had bad posture, but had NO idea what the twinges were (spasms) and I figured I just needed to be in better shape. I went to my naturopath at the time and he said I needed orthotics because my back was weak. $175 later, I felt no relief.
One day, while in a yoga class, I had overextended my back muscles and my back went into complete spasm, with no release. I couldn't move my legs or even sit down. It was the scariest thing to not have control over my legs.

Long story a bit shorter, I had to be picked up in an ambulance and later found out I had herniated my L4 L5 disk. Yikes.

I began to look more closely at the way my body was communicating with me and I began to see health a lot more holistically.

Fast foward eight years, I feel stronger and healthier than I have in my whole life, I have completed a Danskin triathalon, a 200 mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland, and my back no longer bothers me.

I did realize, along the way, that I needed to pay MUCH closer attention to what my body was telling me and not wait until a neurosurgeon has to tell me I won't be able to run or carry a backpack again (thankfully, this was not actually true). I am so grateful that my health has become a top priority in my life and it has paid off.

Being raw has been another component of refining the way I listen to my body and it feels good to simply sense something or feel clear about my decisions in taking care of myself. While I still seek support sometimes, I am realizing more and more that I just need to listen better. My body is quite capable of healing itself and I just need to get out of its way. I love my body so much! I feel more confident, creative, adventurous, and strong.

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