Betrayal, broken, incapable, weak, insufficient – these are all words I’ve associated with my body in the last two months. I see other women all around me – on TV, in the store, at church, in my home – all these women have bodies who are capable of creating another human being. Mine is not capable and so, I feel betrayed, I feel broken, I feel insufficient.
It’s not my fault. I know this – intellectually. No one is blaming me or telling me I did something wrong. But, deep inside, where no one can see, there is blame festering. There are feelings of inadequacy. There are questions of “why” and screams of “this is not fair!”
As I’ve written about before, for much of my life, I didn’t view my body as strong. I struggled in gym class and couldn’t understand how other people enjoyed things like running or playing a sport. However, one day I started running and found that I enjoyed it – that I was sorta, kinda good at it. I’m never going to win a race, but I can complete one and that in itself is a win. My body is strong enough to train for and finish a 13.1 mile race. I would have never guessed that while trying to avoid getting hit in dodgeball 25ish years ago.
I’m trying to tap back into the feeling of strength that came anytime I crossed a finish line. I’m not running right now, but I do walk a lot. When the roads aren’t icy and the temperature doesn’t feel like -15, I walk several miles every day. Not every body can do that – I have to remind myself of that often.
Earlier this fall I started going to yoga class twice a week. My original intent was to slow down – my mind, body and spirit. I wasn’t going for strength training or flexibility – I was going to find some peace in the midst of a challenging time. A few weeks in, however, my reasons for going changed – to recognize my capabilities.
When I step on to my mat I am fully aware of my body. I am aware of the strength in my arms and shoulders, my knees and legs, my hands and feet. I am aware of the strength it takes to hold a pose for several breaths. I am aware of my movement – the flow from one pose to the next to the next. I am very aware of my breath – in and out as each pose changes.
Most of my teachers ask us to set an intention at the beginning of our yoga practice. When I first started my intention was: Be present. Be present to the poses, to your breath, to the room. Just be present. Just as my reasons for going to yoga has changed, so has my intention: Honor your body. Recognize your strength. Thank your body for all it CAN and HAS done.
It’s interesting how we talk about our bodies as if they are separate entities from our self. We refer to mind, body and spirit as if they are three different things. For some people this may be the case – if you have lost one, like the loss of bodily control, that doesn’t mean you are no longer you. However, for where I am in my life right now – I am my body; I am my mind; I am my spirit. Three in one. There is no distinction. So, when I whisper those words of hurt and betrayal to my body, I’m whispering them to my whole self. When I feel broken in one part, my whole self suffers. It’s not either/or. I am both/and.
My body is strong, which means my mind and spirit are strong too. My spirit is loving, which means my mind and body are loving too. My mind is inspired, which means my body and spirit are inspired too. Walking and yoga and writing and reading and creating and learning and talking and listening and…all of it works together throughout my entire being.
I’m grateful for the reminders that I am strong, that I am capable, that I am whole, that I am enough. Every time I’m reminded, that whisper gets softer and softer.