Monday, May 17, 2010
It's really amazing how listening to my body has changed my life. For years, authority figures (parents, doctors, teachers, coaches) had been telling me what I felt was wrong or false.
In toddlerhood, my mom and the daycare moms started loading my plate with too big portions and made me finish it all. My older sister, then a college psychology major, thought it would be brilliant to reward me with a sticker when I cleaned my plate. Stickers are sooo motivating for small people! From this I learned that being full meant being uncomfortably stuffed. My weight ballooned and my childhood was ruined.
When I was a teenager, I started to have control over my food choices and consciously started to limit my portions at dinner. Gradually, I learned to listen to my body to find the first cue that I was full and stop there. I told people it felt like my stomache shrunk because I now knew to be full before I felt like I was bursting.
Now as an adult, I dread feeling stuffed. It's horribly uncomfortable AND it reminds me of darker times in my life. I've learned to take little bites and I reason with myself that I will be able to enjoy this food again, so I don't have to eat every last bite right now.
About a year and a half ago, I started addressing the chronic pain that I've had for as long as I can remember. Doctors and other grown-ups insisted that I was faking to get attention or that it was my fault because I was fat. I was forced to divorce my mind from my body to get through each day. I can remember being a teenager and having to get out of bed early because my back hurt so much it hurt to breathe. My counselor(Grace) and my rehabilitative body work therapist (Carrie) (read: not nice massage) taught me how to reconnect with my body. Grace worked to reassure me that my pain was real and should be taken seriously, and we did EMDR and other mind-body work to rebuild that connection. Carrie, unlike other medical practitioners, spent hours actually touching my body; finding the problem areas and literally taking them into the proper position. And, importantly, she told me the name of each muscle, nerve, tendon, and ligament as she was working and showed me books of how my body is put together. I now have a very visual sense of what's happening in my body.
I learned that pain is not some nuissance feeling. Something that I used to ignore and bury now is a useful signal to me. Convincing my body to relax at night and learning how to sit and walk properly have done wonders!
Today is the first day in a long time that I've had almost no pain (like a 0.5 maybe)! I feel like I might be entering a new wonderful chapter in my life.