I realized about 10 years ago that my body is the only thing in the world that I own outright.
Bodies are interesting phenomena. They are the vehicles for life. No body, no life. At least not in the scientific sense. (I won’t speculate about metaphysical matters here.) But when I was eating compulsively, especially when I was fat, I believed that I was not my body. Like somehow I could separate my life from my body. My life was my thoughts, feelings, and desires, and my body was…I don’t know what I thought my body was. I tried not to think about my body.
When you are abusing your body, it helps to separate from it. If I thought of it as “me”, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. The brain is a fantastic and fascinating organ. It can make anything occur as “normal”. Survival instincts are incredibly powerful. Human beings have had to learn how to live through atrocities. My own personal atrocities have been self-inflicted. But they were still atrocious. And somehow I had to make them “ok”.
But the reason I am writing about my body today, is that I feel completely out of control of it. I still have the food under control. Thank God. That’s not what I mean. But I haven’t been able to stop crying for days now. The muscles in my legs keep tightening up. I’m having chest pains. I have been waking up in the middle of the night. I have been feeling nauseous. My menstrual cycle is all messed up. (No. I’m not pregnant. Getting pregnant requires having sex. And trust me, no sex going on over here…)
Truth be told, all of this grieving and stress does not make me feel insane. It does not make me hate myself. It does not make me hate my life. It just hurts. Pain. Plain and simple. Excruciating. But just pain. And pain doesn’t last forever. Nothing lasts forever. That’s the way life works.
It’s funny that I lived my first 28 years with no control over my body. No control over my eating. No control over my weight. No control over my physical capability. And here I am, six or so years of being in control, and a few days of not feeling in control and I’m angry at my body. Like it has betrayed me.
My body has been so much better to me than I have been to it. It turned out strong and healthy. And beautiful. I had to start being nice to it. I had to honor and respect it. But it let bygones be bygones. It didn’t hold any grudges for having to carry around 165 extra pounds for years. (Please keep in mind that that’s an entire person. Bigger than me. Made entirely of fat.) It does not have diabetes, though I pushed it to the limits. My muscles and joints work. I can run and walk and jump and dance. I can do these things up a flight of stairs. Up multiple flights. I can keep up with a three-year-old for nine hours at a stretch. I can hang upside-down from the monkey bars at the playground to show off for her.
So obviously, my body is not betraying me. It is telling me I don’t feel safe. That I’m scared. It’s telling me I’m in mourning. That I need to get the poison out. That there are feelings inside me that will kill me if I don’t feel them. And it’s also trying to protect me. Because it knows I do not like to feel. My body knows I’m not good at that. It’s letting those feelings come out as physical pain, because it knows that emotional pain can make me turn off and shut down. It’s saying “Here’s some chest ache, instead of some heart ache. Here is a tight muscle instead of a choked soul. Here is some nausea so you can remember to get it out instead of stuffing it in through your mouth. Feel. Cry. It’s ok. You get it out and I’ll live so you can go on having your thoughts, feelings, and desires.”
Damn! I’ve got a great body!