Four years ago, my body decided to start getting vocal about all the shit I’d been ignoring. And typical to my personality, when it made up its mind to get vocal: it was LOUD.
My neck, my jaw, my ribs, my hips, my feet…everything hurt. I felt like my bones and muscles had been twisted out of place overnight. I stayed in pain for a short while, until I realized that it wasn’t going away on its own. Then the panic set in, triggering a wave of panic attacks that raged on for the next 2 years. Drowning in the newness of every sensation, I seemed to forget everything I had learned about life. I forgot about how important my tribe is, I forgot how replenishing time alone was, I forgot to stay quiet and hear my own voice. Ultimately, I forgot who I was.
After months of floundering, I was forced to go within, to stay still – and to stay home. I hibernated in my house, in the room that would become my office filled with boxes of my stuff, an old couch, a desk and an enormous TV. The couch and the desk were remnants from my boyfriend’s last marriage and the boxes held everything I owned. I know, I know, it’s SO obvious now. But then, it was just so overwhelming. I bought every season of the Gilmore Girls at Best Buy and hunkered down to watch those crazy ladies go about their lives. I was still miserable and in pain, but in those moments, I felt safe.
Slowly, I started Googling stretches to help my neck. I went to a kinesiologist and he was a temporary help. He made me uncomfortable, made me feel objectified and did not help my internal turmoil – but he was a step in the direction of relief. A huge turning point was finding my osteopath. He placed my jaw back in place (guys, that’s a thing – you can be walking around for MONTHS with your jaw dislocated, WTF) and worked my neck and shoulders every two weeks for the first 2 months. I found healing partners and inspirations and my heart cracked open. But the trouble with cracking open is that it hurts! It’s scary! It’s intense! But there I was…unable to get back to what I looked like beforehand, but trying to find peace and joy in the new normal.
And so I redefined my “I am”s. Talk about an overwhelming task – you don’t quite realize how rooted you are in your definitions of self until you have to blow them up. As I grew, redefined myself and filled the broken cracks with gold (see here for that story – yes yes and yes) I realized I didn’t need the definitions I craved in my 20s. My “I am” became “I am comfortable with fluidity”, “I am the moving river”, “I am who I am when I am that I am” (ha – ok, that’s just Dr. Seuss).
It took a long time. It took a big shake up. It took some drama. But it also took guts, humility, a sense of humour and love. If you find yourself struggling with changes that re-define you, or your perceptions – the greatest advice I can give you is this: don’t fight it. You don’t have to accept where you think it’s headed but ignoring the feelings, fighting them or hating them won’t help either. The truth is, we are always changing and evolving. Resistance is, indeed, futile. I felt ALL the feelings, but that was the key: I felt them, I saw them and I chose whether or not I wanted to nurture them. Had I ignored the anxiety I could never have embraced the peace, I would have been chasing it the rest of my life. Had I ignored the anger, I would never know forgiveness. It’s easy to love the good feelings, but there is a depth of good that comes with the bad that you will never know until you let the bad exist. So go for it…embrace the bad, it’ll get good soon.