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I always loved the chewy taste of a rare, juicy, meaty steak and even when I would have “bouts” of vegetarianism for a week or a month I always said it was just for healthful purposes, I wasn’t one of those people who wouldn’t eat meat because it was mean to the animals because it seemed an unrealistic premise–we were born omnivores. Recently I have been having a change of heart and stomach.

The steps on this journey are as follows:

  • Watching the movie “Avatar” of all things and being reminded of the ancient, native traditions of blessing all animals that give us food and killing them in kind ways (reminiscent in the movie of Native American traditions where the animal is given a blessing as and after it is killed).
  • Reading John Robbins (heir to the Baskin Robbins throne) Food Revolution which was by mandate for yoga school but brought me to a new consciously aware place about what I eat, where it comes from, what that food can do to me, and what was done to it before it got to my plate.
  •  The desimation of our Iguana population at work by people poaching them for food.
  • And Max The Duck who wanders in front of our door (at work) with more and more frequency and who I find myself conversing (well briefly) alone with at 730am when I come from meditation to work very early and he is waiting hungrily for the crackers I feed him.

 

My realization that my consciousness about what I am doing and what is being done to others calls me to see that as a real piece in the process before my trip to the supermarket for plastic wrapped limbs. My learnings from yoga school to the amazing lecture by Richard Rohr who was introduced at the beginning of his lecture on his new book The Naked Now as part contemplative mystic and a proponent of eco-spirituality. He spoke about all the same wisdom as my yoga teacher in terms of our relationship and treatment of the world around us and how reflective it is of our inner selves–how neglect of these things are as much spiritual void as nature negligence.

My world and life, as it often works, seems to be circling back to an eco-friendly framework. One that spans beyond just recycling when I can and trying to be sustainable in a small scope. In a world where livestock has become an industry of warehousing and cruelty unless I plan on building a humane farm for one there is no way to really participate in mainstream omnivore lifestyle without being an affront to consciousness and conscience-ness.

This is of course a personal plight and journey and I by no means want to send waves of negativity towards the vibrantly carnivorous among us (ahem, my husband). I have not decided yet how this new attempt at gastronomy is going to go or what I am going to leave on the table–literally or figuratively.

What I do know is that I will have to do whatever I do with awareness and mindfulness of what I know and not be capricious about eating at any level. I think it is, also, no random coincidence, that my dietary suggestions for my chronic illness (endometriosis) include avoiding, if possible, most meat and most dairy altogether. Perhaps I am on a path I was meant to be on–spiritually and corporeally.

 
Operating Table by MikeIsNeat on flickr

“The body never lies.”

Martha Graham (famous dancer/choreographer)

  

 

Practice what you preach…it is essential, no?  It is a bit of a duh, if I do say so myself.  Well I just had a moment of sorts over the last 72 hours—a long harsh moment of reality thrust upon me, necessarily and with excellent timing (in the script of my life this is just where I would put such a revelation).  It was a moment—call it a “duh” or an “aha” or an “epiphany” if you will—that reminded me of the importance, non-optional and crucial nature, of holistic living in my own life. 

 

I talk about it with passion until I’m breathless and I vocalize it to anyone who will listen—a complimentary medicine and holistic approach to life is vital for full mind, body, and soul healing.  And although I work towards my own holistic health in baby steps I am not quite the vibrant enactor as I am the vocalize—I am a bit sluggish, sometimes even a bit resistant for all of the reasons I know that people are. 

 

I am stagnant in my old ways of thinking and living.  I am full of negative learned behaviors cultivated with great art over the years.  I am sluggishly lazy about making the alterations in full that would be necessary for living a truly clean, green , and healthfully mean life.  It is a scary prospect—to so drastically change our life patterns.  Yet at the same time to do so is so logical and such a small concession in the grander scheme of things—taking into account a longer, healthier, and less painful existence on all levels.

 

This week has shown me, that like the diabetic person that has not option of whether to take care of their body and their diet as they must do what is necessary or suffer serious, even life threatening consequences, I too must look at my holistic health from a more serious perspective.  Every move I make, or don’t, every substance, hormone, and edible thing I put in my body affects the state of it. 

 

I have (as much as I have been trying to ignore the severity of it for some time) a very serious and chronic illness which only becomes more pervasive and debilitating with time.  I am in a crucial stage of “change” or “be changed for the worse”.  I am on the precipice of a life and a body that could go either way and I have to treat the care of this bodily casing as if it were a life or death situation—it is at least the life or death of my womb that is at stake (not to mention the surrounding organs that are often ravaged by endometriosis like the bladder, bowel, appendix, among others–two out of the three I already have scar tissue on from fusing of organ to organ , by endometriosis growth, prior to my first surgery). 

 

I can no longer say, “Tomorrow I will live better,” or, “Just one more bagel can’t hurt,” or, “I’m just too tired for yoga today.”  I have to effect a lifestyle commiserate with the seriousness of my health, the necessity for self-care as a priority, and an active holistic approach to healing that I know to be so vital.  I can no longer sit on the sidelines of my body and wait to see what happens.  Proactive is the only way. 

 

It is hard, we all know, to shift so drastically the things that inhabit our daily lives, routines, and ways of being.  I know mine is somewhat of an extreme example of how everything we do, consume, imbibe and how it affects our internal and external health, but in some ways this drastic perspective on living is something we should all work harder to enact—and no one knows better than I how much of a struggle it is to do that. 

 

But I know, too, that my every moment and lifestyle decision affects me holistically so I must live taking my whole self into account.  I know that when I have steak, dairy, soda, and white bread my cramps worsen.  I know that and I ignore it quite often. 

 

My body gives me all the signals I need of how to care for it and thus far I have been very capricious with this precious and delicate physicality that I have.  But I can’t be a sideline player in the game of me versus endometriosis.  I have been reminded and reinvigorated by the knowledge that this illness will get worse—how fast and how much is really up to me, every day, and in the choices I make. 

 

We have much of the control over our living, but so often we don’t enact proactive (w)holistic health because it seems too hard or too much.  Well, I can say from experience that the alternative, what can happen when we don’t care for this precious container for our mind and our soul, is much worse than working hard to live well.

 

I hope that this–my life, my body, my situation–can be a reminder to everyone of how precious this life is and how precious these bodies are we have been given.  We owe it to ourselves to take the best care possible of it before something (and something can happen to anyone) happens that makes us realize it is too late to effect changes and damage has been done.  I, myself, am at my own precipice, facing my own “duh” moment and I have big changes to make to create a life  not just of forethought and promises of change, but a life of making that change—I am the one who loses if I don’t.  Life is not a sidelines game and our bodies are vital in the holistic care of ourselves—body, mind, and soul.

 

Daily yoga, clean eating, and beginning active courses of acupuncture will be my first steps to getting my body to a better place to fight the internal enemy that waits, biding  it’s time to eat away at me, from the inside out.  I can create a defensive line that can really save or at least preserve my internals for a longer time, not to do that would be dangerously capricious.  I no longer want to be dangerously capricious. 

 

This blog, this move, this timing of beginning yoga school soon and actively working towards a more yogic, meditative, healthier lifestyle seems (as I said above) to be almost a scripted path I am on.  What a more perfect time for me to be forced to take seriously the severity and vital nature of this life path I am treading on and the life health I am preaching to others.  “Practice what you preach!” my life is yelling at me from every angle imaginable–or beware the consequences. 

 

I prefer to listen to what I have been given and make the necessary changes to myself and my lifestyle that have been a long time coming and necessary to have a long time yet to come.  Endometriosis may be the internal enemy but I would rather to be fighting against the enemy, not aiding its troops with my every action.  I know for everyone effecting changes of any kind is a huge undertaking and no easy task–change is hard.  But change will come whether you enact it or something else does.  Proactive living is much more empowering.  I hope to finally be able to say, with no wavering, or equivocating, that I truly, holistically, practice what I preach.  I must, my body tells me so.

 

 Acupuncture heart by Sharon Pazner on flickr

“The body is your temple.  Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.”

B.K.S. Iyengar, Yoga: The Path To Holistic Health

Early pink dogwood flowering heads by Martin LaBar on flickr

Expect the unexpected. 

 

I had an entirely different post planned for today and then I found myself in my new doctor’s office this afternoon and all that changed.  I guess I should have learned this far into the living process that we can never assume, never predict, always just be prepared (like a good boy scout). 

 

It is always difficult to find a specialist for a chronic illness that does not have its own day or pin or charity of note.  So I held my breath as I waited to meet my new endometriosis specialist especially as I was at a particularly frustrated point, having spent the last week in fairly severe pain (or, medically speaking, about a 6 on a pain scale).  I had a constellation of thoughts sparking and shooting through my brain.  I was not sure what my next step was but I was fairly certain decisions would have to be made. 

 

I had my exam, lets pass over the details, and then I met with the doctor in his office to discuss things in a fully clothed state.  I found this doctor to be a refreshing anomaly already.  When dealing with a male doctor dealing with female issues I tend to walk with trepidation, assessing for a complete lack of empathy or bedside manner, but he had a jovial quality and a softness with a side of humor.  I already liked him.  Then I walked into the office for the “serious business” and sat down in the typical dark wood  office chair.  He began talking to me seriously, frankly, and in a way that was both frighteningly and refreshingly honest. 

 

“Endometriosis is worse than cancer, really.  It would be preferable to have cancer.  You treat it and it’s gone.  With endometriosis there is no cure it just continues to grow and all we can do is manage it long enough so that you have the time you need to have children, if you want them.” 

 

The follow-up inference of that statement is, “Before it all disintegrates in a painful sequence of  internal explosions till, like a building with detinators in the foundation, the entire structure collapses into dust”. (My paraphrasing of the inference later discussed at length with the doctor)

 

I sighed, maybe even audibly.  Finally, someone just said it how it was, and understood what it meant to have and live with this condition.  I needed a qualified person to validate my own hypotheses I had been mulling over this week. After not even a year following my first laparoscopy procedure my pain was returning to the same pinnacle point and I knew it was not a sign of internal wellness. 

 

After finding out in my first surgical procedure that the past 15 years of being told “it’s just your normal cycle, you get bad cramps is all,” was completely lazy diagnostics, I got the official stamp of “Endometriosis, Stage IV“.  There are four stages of the illness and four is the most severe and pervasive.  I knew even a year ago that, that was not a prediction of good to come but I had hoped for at least a couple of years between surgeries.  Now, sitting in that office, hearing the realities I knew I needed to know what was going on in there and there might be more decisions beyond just surgical maneuvers that would follow the “knowing”. 

 

 So, here I sit at home with a bit of medicine meant to mollify the pain beginning to make its way into my system system, along with the bread I use so that I don’t vomit from said medication.  I am preparing for my second laparoscopic surgery on Friday and pondering the information confirmed by my new doctor/surgeon.  I knew it would come to this but having the internal conversation that follows “knowing” is really frightening.

 

How badly do I want to physically have children? How soon am I willing to do that to keep it a possibility? And how do I discern both these things with a clear head and not rash sentimentality? 

 

The first question is: How long do I have before my internals liquify to use my inner pieces to procreate?  The follow-up question is: How soon am I willing to begin trying to have children to prevent losing the chance altogether? 

 

People sometimes ask the theoretical question, if you could know the day you might die would you want to know?  Is it better to know a fate or not.  If you can predict your potential for life, or to create life, would you really want to know?  I find the knowing that I have limited time is like a huge weight pressing on my airway, making it impossible to breathe let alone think clearly on the matter.  At least tonight it feels that way, full of bread, medication, and pulsing pain surging through my abdomen, back, and legs. 

 

Babies.  What are my thoughts on babies?  I am definitely of two minds.  They are messy, and poopy, and needy, and wake you up all the time, and need, and want, and must be constantly watched, and even if you do all the best for them there is no guarantee they will be ok.  They are so much responsibility, but conversely, they are so much love.  They smile, and laugh, and play, and love life in a way that could, potentially, remind you of how much there is to love in life. 

 

Why must I decide now though?  Part of this decision process makes me uncomfortable as an adoptee in a family that is mostly not genetically related.  There is no reason why my decisions, or my body, needs to prohibit babies just because it inhibits procreation.  And is making a decision with such importance about procreation diminishing to all the other ways to have and love a baby?  I never wanted to be a pained and yearning woman amid fertility treatment where it was biological or nothing, but conversely I feel a pang at the idea that I may never have the option for the biological even if I were to choose the non-genetic version of a family regardless. 

 

So, I have surgery the day after tomorrow and my husband is rushing his return to Florida to be here Saturday morning.  I have to get through one night of post-surgery pain alone.  That I can do.  The rest of it, perhaps, I will also leave up to my post-operative brain to coordinate.  After I find out what the present state of carnage is in my potentially womb-less womb. 

 

Make way for ducklings by shoothead on flickr

“True stability results when presumed order and presumed disorder are balanced. A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.”

Tom Robbins

Caution Tape by Picture Perfect Pose at flickrCaution Tape by Picture Perfect Pose at flickr

 

I have learned a lot about lizards these past few weeks.  As of this morning I can add to my credentials “One who knows what dead lizards look like in my entryway”.  Tonight I can certify that I know what amphibious mortis (please forgive my rudimentary latin translation of dead lizard) looks like after a day on an entryway floor.   They deflate…rather fast.

 

Now, you may be wondering why would I wait about 12 hours to remove said lizardus corpus (ok now I am just making my own version of latin up).  There is a two prong approach to my reasoning: 1) I was not certain that being upside down with legs in the air was a definitive diagnosis of amphibian death so I wanted to give it some time to see.  2) 7:00 am is just too early in the morning for me to brave the task of scooping up and disposing of lizard remains.

 

I believe the dead lizard, “John Gecko Doe” is The Lizard Formerly Known As “Shower Lizard” .  He was meandering nearly lifeless around the bathroom floor at abnormally slow lizard speeds the last couple of days following the day I thought I had drowned him with my shampoo toxins.  Apparently I had caused him a much more sinister and drawn out death sentence.  I feel awful and I gave him a tiny lizard prayer as I scooped him up, flattened and scaly, and placed him into my garbage can.  Thank goodness for trash Wednesdays. 

 

But my short lived friend once fondly called “Shower Lizard” has helped me to create my own parallel from his death to my life. 

 

 I was in a little bit of a funk yesterday.  My pain had reached an all time high by sunset to the point where I felt the familiar sensation of shooting sparks of fire rippling down from my abdomen into my thighs–if you had not guessed, this is the bad end of the endometriosis pain spectrum. 

 

On top of that I had  begun work at my new office, having completed a week of prerequisite orientation off-site, and felt the sinking feeling of “First Day of School for the New Kid” with a sense of just having been thrust from my place as well-respected innovator to unknown, anonymous, new person with no history of much consequence.  Whether this perception was just my New Kid mindset or anything besides is irrelevant it was simply that feeling of being set off kilter and humbled by the death of one life and the start of another. 

 

Rebirth–professionally speaking. 

 

Death precedes rebirth.  Nature does it.  Faith and religions talk about it.  Our human lives exhibit it.  We are in constant cycles of renewal whether by catalysts we create or those we have inflicted on us.  We are made to adapt and change along with those things in our life that require it: stagnation can happen but it is in our own best interest to constantly stretch ourselves. 

 

My move, my new job, my new locale were all things I put into my life by choice but feeling the growing pains of that change in action is a learning experience which brings me new surprises at every step. 

 

I did not know that I would have such a moment of mourning at letting go of my old professional sphere and the comfort of the known I had found in it.  I did not know that I would be separated from my husband for this long and that the distance would bring with it unknown pains and unanticipated appreciation at a deeper and deeper level for what my husband means in my life and in my heart. 

 

Change brings with it struggles with the unknown, with our own insecurities, and the growing pains that bring us out on the other side changed but evolved in some way.  The death is always rebirth of some kind and fear can becoming invigorating awareness, although always with some struggles along the way.

 

I am appreciative of the distance and time apart from my husband (on my better days) because it has allowed me the blessing of knowing my love for him in a far more dimensional way than I had ever known before.  I am thankful for the new opportunities in a new place, a new job, and the new adventures that might be on the horizon as a result.  I, as all of us do, fear the death of the old but know that what is being born is not just a new life but valuable lessons about myself along the way. 

 

I thank my fond friend of only a few short weeks “Shower Lizard” for reminding me of the cycle of life.  I hope he finds all the shower drains his little heart could ever desire wherever he has gone to.  And I really hope he is the last deflated amphibious mortis that I have to scoop for a while.  It is a disheartening side job.

 

Life is change.   Growth is optional.  Choose wisely. 

AUTHOR UNKNOWN

 

Boken by MSIChicago on flickr

Boken Egg by MSIChicago

Starting Life by jimdeane at flickr

                                                     {1}Starting Life by jimdeane on flickr

 

Bathtubs, Holmfirth by tricky at flickrBathtubs, Holmfirthby trickyTM at flickr

 

One thing I dream for pretty consistently may seem an insinuated pleasure to some, a bathtub I can take a bath in; a big old, bubbles and whistles (well not literal whistles but you get the gist) bathtub that one can luxuriate and decompress in.  I often wonder what my life and perhaps my anxiety level might be with the addition of one of those–I have heard good things about such decadence.  Instead I have meandered through numerous years of rental living with one manner of unlivable bathing equipment after another.  And each time I think I have hit the bottom of the drain I am confronted with another even more extensive effrontery to human cleanliness. 

 

This time it is well water and lizards.  This is a new experience for me.  I have had plenty of tubs growing mold, potentially once sites of some kind of violent crime, or the tub that never was in my Manhattan adjacent apartment (ie Hoboken, NJ) where there was only enough space for a standing shower with toilet in the bathroom –see sink in the kitchen for further sanitation. 

 

But there is something about trickling well water that just doesn’t scream clean.  And even if it did the not-so-faint odor of rust that emits from the water itself and the washee following bathing in it leaves one with the feeling of needing to shower to wash away the shower.  I am more than ever thankful for very potent body lotions–which of course is additionally mosquito bait but between rustiness and bug bites my sensitive nasal cavities choose to offer me up to the tiny vampires of the south. 

 

Anyway, besides the fact of never feeling quite clean maybe I am thinking about this particular area of loss right now because it has been a particularly bad pain weekend.  I have cramping like mad and not at all sure why–besides faulty genetics and disorganized systems of reproduction.  Enemy thy name is Endometriosis.  And what I could use to deflect some of the enemy’s force might be a relaxing bath–or so I hypothesize as I bemoan not having the ability to find out. 

 

Endo as well as erratic Florida rain also inhibited my ability to take part in my first ocean view beach yoga class.  I am hoping that I can make up for that by taking one of the sunset classes this week at 6:00pm following work or try again next weekend…all depending on my pal Endo and what she has planned–we often conflict.  She’s always wanting to spend long days on bathroom floors, or in beds with heating pads on abdomens while I would rather do anything but those things.  She usually wins. 

 

Body as the enemy, and a woman.  Again I lead back into the multitude of issues related to internal or external trauma and the female elements of dueling within ourselves.  I would love a bath.  I would love a pain free regimen of care for my condition.  I would love to not have to go anywhere with backup pain medicine, just in case it gets too bad.  I would love a lot of things that are not within my grasp or within my power…like having my husband living with me in our home in Florida and going to sleep knowing that my whole family of two plus dogs was under the same roof. 

 

What I have learned in the brief period of time since the move to Florida with more clarity than ever before is that as much as we want to try to control the elements of our lives or our bodies sometimes it is just not possible and in those moments we just have to let things go.  “Let Go and Let God” is a constantly used mantra of AA programs but the overall sense of it is useful to all.  My friend Marisol over at Homefront Letters discussed the other day her own struggle within herself to want what isn’t possible and her method of giving it up to something greater than herself. 

 

Whatever we believe in and whatever spiritual path we follow sometimes it is necessary to let everything go: our pains, our wants, our control (which is often more just an illusion of our own imaginations than actual control).  We must let everything go and give it up to something bigger than us.  We can only carry so much and we really control so little.  Sometimes letting go is all we can do, otherwise we will drive ourselves mad trying to fix the unfixable or change what is not in our capacity to change. 

 

I am learning that with more clarity every day.  And sometimes the realization itself is a painful process of recognition.  Giving everything over to something that is not ourselves sometimes feels against our own instincts.  In truth it is more of a learned and acquired capacity but one that is much healthier for us in the long run.  To be able to let go of things that happen in our lives enough so that we are not ruled by them.  And also enough so that we can get enough distance and perspective that we can deal with the life issues that come up.  Again it is an acquired capacity and one that is not easy as I learn struggling with it daily. 

 

I will try to let go of the fury that wells in me when the cramps erupt and the frustration at my trickling well shower.  And I will continue to smile at my shower lizard when he pokes his head out of the drain…hoping desperately that I am not drowning him and apologizing profusely as I douse him with my shampoo run off.  He seems to take the whole experience far better than I am so far–but I guess it’s all a learning curve. 

 

Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.

Zen Proverb

 

The Last Shower by winterofdiscontent at flickrThe Last Shower by winterofdiscontent on flickr

 Woman in the Mirror by MCSimon on flickr

  Woman in the Mirror by MC Simon on Flickr

 

My girl puppy has a habit of looking herself in the mirror and barking ferociously.  I doubt it is because she hates the sight of herself, or she is angrily eyeing the bit of fat under her chin.  Most likely it is the fact that she is a dog and she thinks the dog in the mirror is an oddly similar looking intruder that she can’t quite get at.  All the same, the sight of my little girl, all dressed in fur, looking curiously at herself in the mirror often leaves me thinking, “Et tu Gaia? Et tu?”

 

Ecoyogini’s blog post yesterday entitled “Feminist Yoga” reflected on body image and sexualization issues as they impact even the yogic sanctum.  Her post led me back to a book I have loved and kept for well over a decade minding the body: women writers on body and soul which discusses issues of body images and the correlating sentiments of women writers. 

 

As I begin a new job I find myself standing in front of the mirror a little too long every morning weighing multiple issues: do I look professional enough, do I look appropriate enough, and yes, am I showing “too much” flesh.  From a feminist perspective those thoughts link back to a much bigger issue than me–or my puppy–in a mirror.  These inflicted restrictions on the self come from a larger determining body–culture, society, and yes, gender perceptions and stereotypes. 

 

We all coexist in a society plagued by issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, and external abuses that are more often inflicted on women than men.  It is just statistically true.  They can lead to body dysmorphia, and subsequent body issues from anorexia and bulimia,  to cutting and trichotillomania (hair pulling) as well as other masochistic behaviors which women inflict (statistically much more than men) on themselves, on their bodies in a horribly punitive way. 

 

1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 

17.7 American women have been victims of  attempted or completed rapes.

Women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.

Roughly 33% of girls and 14% of boys are molested before the age of 18.

 

Some women who have survived sexual trauma or abuses will gain weight as a protective shell, to try to avoid sexualization by hiding their body within their own body. Some will become overly sexualized and sexually active as a way to take power back over the act that betrayed their innocence and their bodies.  Some will carve into their flesh as a means of eradicating emotional pain by distracting themselves with the release of blood and ache in a physical way. 

 

Many others will use the cutting, other self abuses, and weight gain or particularly loss (as in anorexia) as a self punishment for abuse in their lives they blame on themselves.   The use of overeating, undereating, and purging (bulimia) is also used as a method of control over the self when other things in the world have not been controllable for that woman– such as the abuses or control inflicted on them by some external force. 

 

Women intake all the world’s garbage and bile about body image and take it in or purge it out in ways that can be deadly.  And even when it is not physically deadly it can be catastrophic for a woman’s self image, capacity for self-love, and ability to take care and heal themselves.  These disruptive and unhealthy coping mechanisms woman have used as shields to protect against future harm. 

 

And as minding the body explicates on our image of ourselves, our perception of what is “right” or “good” for a woman, and what we “should” be is not limited to the self-abuses inflicted following being abused by another person.  Our bodies can be our abusers. 

 

I think of my endometrioisis and the pain it brings me.  As I sit here now I feel the ripples and spasms fluctuate through my body and I try to list what I did or what I ate today that might have, on my part, contributed to the ache.  minding the body also references issues around infertility, cancer, and other physically, biologically inflicted wounds that jar and mangle the parts of ourselves we see as “woman” or as “beautiful” by the standards and precepts we have been given to judge ourselves.

 

Some days I hate my body.  For its shape with thick bold curves and an ever expanding waistline with every year.  For the pains it brings me.  For how I look in my clothes or the parts of myself that seep out of even the most professionally geared garment just due to my biologically endowed physique.

 

On days like today, when I probe into the whys and hows, I feel frustration at having those moments of self-loathing.  I feel that I should “know better” but of course knowing is not feeling and we all have to work constantly not to submit to what we have been taught is the only acceptable perfection as a woman: to be overly dramatic the image of a Stepford wife pops in my head, devoid of any emotional depth or ache, a perfect chef, with a non-existent waist , and whispy blonde hair. 

 

So how do we love ourselves when it feels that so many images and perceptions of beauty tell us, for one reason or another, not to?  For the everyday body image issues of a cursory lack of self-satisfaction I would say taking into account all of these external forces and maybe applying a little of the perception piece I talked about yesterday can be a starting point.  But often the pain of the body and hate of the self can be rooted so much further than skin deep.  It can come from pains and aches that are far below the surface and far beyond the reach of what can just be seen by the eye or in a mirror. 

 

 The premise of body-oriented studies and therapeutic treatments is the opposite of self-loathing and idolizing the impossible; it is meant to be self-embracing.  It is a potential holisitic antidote to the pain many women contain within their hearts, minds, and bodies.

 

Yoga and body-oriented therapies can work to mend some of that pain by creating a safe and healthy relationship with the body and a way for someone to love themselves and care for themselves by learning how to enjoy what their body is capable of.   Yoga is being used and spoken about more and more in reference to trauma (as I have talked and written about before) and for eating disorders.  Other methods that access our bodies to help us love ourselves and heal include dance therapy and anything else within the arena of movement arts. 

 

The body is the entry point for so much pain and for many women it is where their trauma entered them, invaded them, and brought them to an emotional place where they feel hate, shame and blame for their own selves.  The body is a place of much trauma and pain for many women and is a place where healing can begin.  Yoga in particular can teach us to breathe again, teach us to move with empowerment, and can bring a sense of love for the body that contains so many memories of pain and hate. 

 

The practice of yoga must be touched on lightly and often, with trauma, I think if someone is going to try yoga or body therapies as a means to healing from trauma they should work slowly, work with someone who knows trauma, and often starting small and individually  before entering the often bombarding sphere of a classroom.

 

This is also why I think it is so important to have more trauma-oriented yoga professionals because as a teacher you never know who will enter your class and what they will bring with them as well as what the class, with its access of the body, may bring up for them in a powerful way.  It is also why I think it is important to have more and more training for yoga professionals, mental health professionals, and persons from a trauma background that explain the nature of trauma and the relationship to the body and mind as well as a way to use yoga in a healthy way for traumatized persons.  Whether the trauma is internal–illness or injury–or externally inflicted there is a need for all people entering into this field of mind/body connection to be as educated and aware as possible. 

 

That is why I have begun formulated and giving such trainings for professionals of many fields and persons who are suffering from trauma.  If you want more information on my endeavors please see the “Trainings” Section of my website Embody (W)holistic Mental Health or for information on trauma and yoga you can look at the articles on the same website. 

 

I want to thank EcoYogini for focusing on such an important issue as body image on her blog and giving me the inspiration to focus on this area that is so important to me.  

 

My thoughts and heart go out to anyone suffering from trauma and pain emotional and otherwise.  I want every woman to know that I am thinking of you as I write this and the pains you might have suffered.  Love yourself in some way today.  Do something for yourself because you deserve it. 

 

 I plan to eat some cheese and stretch.  Because I love cheese as much as a mouse and stretching as much as a cat. 

 

 

daring by MC Simon on flickr

 daring by MC Simon on flickr

 

You use a glass mirror to see your face.  You use works of art to see your soul.

George Bernard Shaw

 

by SmallRaffaela

by SmallRaffaela

flickr photo “hide and seek” by SmallRaffaela

 

 

Good thing I believe that my body is just the fancy (or not so fancy) outer casing for much more valuable goods: my soul, heart, spirit.  If I had higher expectations for my “casing” I might be more inclined to really resent the one I got handed to me from the cosmic assembly line. 

 

Although, in truth, I have some body resentments.  Between chronic rhinitus, psoriasis, and endometriosis (all conditions correlated to immune system dysfunction) I vacilate between fevers, abdominal spasms, and scalp burning and itching; each condition exacerbaterated by the next.  Last week rhinitus was center stage and today endo has come out to play. 

 

Curled over on a bathroom floor doing my lamaze breath to placate my angry belly which writhes and stabs and contorts from the inside out I find myself swimming in my own pool of self pity–and then resenting myself for my thoughts. 

 

I can remember back in November sitting in the office of my reproductive endocrinologist with my husband and having him tell me that during my laprascopic surgery they found “Stage IV” of endometriosis invading my body. In non-medical terms “Stage IV” is pretty much an internal warzone the like of maybe the battle for Troy.  My organs were fused together and my fallopian tube was blocked shut with endometriosis, not to mention a giant cyst wedged between the carnage like a giant grenade.  I imagined something close to a Dali painting going on in between my hips; an abstract distortion of what innards should look like. 

 

He also told me that I would probably have to have the surgery again within two years, I guess something like an ovarian detailing, and that if I wanted to get pregnant, due to the damage to my fallopian tube, I was at risk for tubal pregnancy which can require pregnancy termination due to the dangerousness of the situation.  I left my appointment with photos of my internal carnage, a prescription for birth control to take daily indefinitely, and feeling completely betrayed by my body.

 

Today is one of those days I revisit that same sense of betrayal.  I have, over the years since I hit puberty,  become accustomed to days spent writhing on the bathroom floor, alternating between cursing and praying, and drowning in my own self-pity.  As I become more expert at this particular ailment I come to terms with the pain as a piece of my existence, just an element of my story that will persist at the very least until I remove all the pesky troublesome organs.  I live with it.  But the pity still creeps in from time to time. 

 

I work to live in my body, love what I have, and forgive it its flaws–and just as I do that I know I have to do the same for myself emotionally.  Forgive my moments of pitying weakness and allow myself to feel as I feel, give myself permission to be human.  

 

It is hard to have a cohesive and complimentary relationship with one’s body and one’s mind when they seem to be at odds.  When you feel that your body has betrayed you in such a core way, and as a woman in such an essential and intimate part of your anatomy, in your female center. 

 

But as I stare down at my body and run my fingers across the surgery scars that flank my navel I know that wounds, and aches, and scars, and all, I have to love my body.  Because although it is only the casing for the raw materials that define my “self” it is also a collaborative experiment, this human existence thing.   I have to work with what my body has given me and accept it’s flaws, accept my emotional moments of weakness, and be able to acknowledge my scars without hating them. 

 

I continue to struggle with this tug of war and some days I lie on the bathroom floor breathing deeply and sobbing.  But other days I don’t.  And all of that is also part of the human experiment that is my life; finding the balance and making my way through my own ebbs and flows.  And give myself permission to not be perfect and try to constantly remember not to expect the illusion of perfection that doesn’t exist for anyone anywhere anyway. 

 

“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul, and good for each is the work of the other.”

Henry David Thoreau

dream on by smallraffaela on flickr

flickr photo “dream on” by SmallRaffaela

 

 

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