Author: Sairy Franks
I used to resent my body. After years of chronic illness, I was quite convinced that my body was failing me. I was convinced that we were on opposing sides of a brutal battle. If my body didn’t feel good enough to eat and drink water, and if I wasn’t able to control my body – I thought that meant death. It’s easy to see why.
But in the midst of treatment, there was an unexpected shift. The shift in perspective came from desperation and a resulting intuitive coping mechanism. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a break from the physical agony, and a break at that point simply meant my stomach easing up enough to allow some bites of food. I was so intensely overwhelmed with pain that I chose to leave my body.
I imagined my soul rising up out of my body and peering down from above. I watched myself lay in bed crying, breathing as rhythmically as possible as I had coached birth clients to do for the last several years. Inspired by another labor and birth technique, I envisioned my spirit form reaching down with a wet wash cloth, rubbing my face warmly and lovingly. This was helpful in the labor and birth setting because it interrupts the pain messages coming to the brain, which can only handle so much incoming information at once. Then I imagined myself gently wiping away the tears. I did for myself what I would do for another.
I had many loved ones who were waiting and wanting to do this for me, but the truth was that if someone had actually done this it would have been too much sensation along with the pain. I needed to imagine it. It had to be me.
Following this experience, I watched a natural progression of a change in perspective. Although I continued to experience unbelievable levels of physical and emotional discomfort, I quit resenting my body. I began to wonder what my organs thought of me. I began to imagine that my body may actually be the one feeling under attack, and it was my mind telling me the story that it was my body’s fault. I remembered suddenly that we were a team, a team of best friends, a team of one.
Quietly in my mind I began thanking organs and parts of my body that were expressing pain. “Thank you for working so hard to take care of me. I’m sorry that I am taking antibiotics which cause you harm. I am doing the best I know how. Please forgive me. I love you.” I also thanked the rest of my body for not feeling pain and being a part of this networked support system. I did this numerous times a day and it often brought tears, but these tears were of appreciation rather than overwhelm and judgment.
A body is not something to be taken for granted, whether it is deemed healthy or unhealthy. That said, I am not a perfect lover of my body and I never will be. However, with each breath, each moment, each day, week and year – I learn a little more how to appreciate my body in being, feeling, thought, and in action. I step into loving a little more – here, there, and everywhere.
I believe that however off course you may feel in loving your body, we are all learning to love our bodies one step at a time – even if it’s not obvious to ourselves or each other.