You know how someone can mention a new car they are thinking about buying and you comment about how you have never seen that kind of car. Then for the next two weeks you see that kind of car every time you are on the road. You went from never hearing about the car to being surrounded by them .
This is how I feel about this new to me idea that our bodies have a memory. Even when our minds seem to forget or our hearts build walls to shut them out, our bodies hold on to them.
Recently while I was listening to a Kristen Tippet podcast, I was introduced to a man named Matthew Sanford. He is a yoga teacher who just happens to be paralyzed from the chest down. That alone can grab one’s attention. However what made me turn off the podcast only to get on Amazon to order his book, Waking – A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence, was when he mentioned that he not only works with average people and physically challenged people, but also with eating disorder patients. I was both intrigued and skeptical. I couldn’t see the connection. Yet, I knew there was something I needed to learn from this guy.
His book did not disappoint. He tells his story with grace and wisdom. From the accident that changed it all and the intricate human struggles he was forced to endure, to the inspiring teacher he has become. I was in awe in entire time. He talks about his evolving relationship with his body. The disconnecting, the remembering and finally, finding a home within his body once again.
I began to see the connection.
My eating disorder got a firm grip on me when I was in my teens. I cannot say with complete confidence that I was 100% present in my skin the few years before that. However, I do know that I knew what it felt like to have that kinship with my body and what it felt like to lose it. My obsession/addiction to the food and the lack of, led to a numbness that kept me significantly checked out of life. Memories gone due to the fog I kept myself in or the protection from feeling discomfort that my addiction instinctively provided.
I felt as those Matthew Sanford, through his own story, gave words to things I didn’t even know I needed the words for. Our stories so completely different, yet sharing something so true.
I experienced these words for myself recently as I went to visit my sister in the hospital. She was having her baby in the same hospital I had mine. Since having my youngest, I have been back twice. Once to bring the nurses who cared for me a gift and once when my other sister had her last baby. Both times I psyched myself up for the visit. It was a thing. I knew I was going and it may be jolting so I prepared. This time I didn’t. I thought by now it would be old hat. No biggie, I thought.
Then I walked in those front doors along with my father and my little girl. As we approached the security guard I looked ahead at the lobby. The same lobby they had rushed me through as I left a trail of blood behind me. I saw the doors to the freight elevator, the one they pushed people out of the way to get on as the doctors and nurses around me were yelling things at one another. I remembered that once nurse, whose face I never saw, who just kept telling me that they were going to be doing everything they could to take care of me and my baby. I could hear her words clearly standing there at the elevator.
That lobby, those doors, the smell…….my heart began to race. Moments from that day, the day I almost lost my little girl and almost lost my own life. It was a day I had been so innocently clueless. Although I was scared and knew that losing this amount of blood was not “good”, I had absolutely no idea of what was really happening or what lie ahead. But that day going back, I did. I now know what the reality was. New memories, ones that haven’t been a part of the story I tell from this day, came back. I felt it.
Standing there by those elevator doors, I could hear my dad talking to the security guards “See those two over there? That’s my daughter and granddaughter. This hospital saved their lives. They are walking miracles.” My dad’s beautiful words slammed into my gut. Massive amounts of gratitude at battle with the unexpected physical reaction. My heart raced and the tears came without warning. Things I thought I didn’t remember, my body had never forgotten. My dad put his arm around me, my little girl held me hand looking up at me with those eyes of hers, and the sweet security gave me a huge smile saying “God is good.” Suddenly, through grace, I was having a moment of unanticipated healing.
The only ground or foundation that I am interested in rooting down in, is truth. Without it, I am still making a choice to stay under the heavy weight of denial. Without it, I am inside the walls I built, still laying more bricks.
Rising is impossible without truth.
Matthew Sandford says our bodies are always for us, not against us as we tend to believe. They never give up on us no matter what we do to them or how we treat them. They are committed to our living up to that very last breath we take. Our bodies are always fighting for our truth.
Last week I did a flying belly flop out of my comfort zone and went to a ballet class. I haven’t been since my early teens.
……….As I stood at that bar and the music began to play, my body remembered it’s truth. I can complain about age, time, or circumstance but the truth is I love to dance. I haven’t done ballet since before my eating disorder asked me to shut out the honesty that dancing gave me.
The only reason I went to this class was because it was one of the only classes at the new fitness place in town that I could fit into my schedule. My obnoxious expectations were low. I thought it would be a very workout gym like ballet, less dancing more squats like. When I walked in and saw these grown women putting on ballet shoes, I panicked a bit inside. What had a gotten myself into.
The music started, I stood up straight and followed the teacher’s instructions. Tailbone pointed down, belly in, arm gliding up and out, shoulder down, neck long…….. I began to have a similar experience as I had standing by those elevator doors in the hospital. It was a physical reaction to the memories my body had held onto. I remembered a grace I thought I had lost and I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
For someone who spent years keeping things surface and avoiding deep, how encouraging to know what has always been here waiting for me.
Nothing is lost.
I hold within me a wisdom and grace waiting to be uncovered. I can remember who I AM.