The ugly part of the healing process is the processing. It’s when we are feeling the tough things we previously refused to feel. Facing the emotions and thoughts that we had evaded for a long time. It is exhausting. One thing I am realizing about myself is that I register emotional stress as physical pain almost immediately. The college tour trip I wrote about last time was followed by incredible stiffness in my body, especially around my neck and back, as well as overall pain to the touch. I tried to do Yoga the next day but found myself barely able to move. So I went home and spent the rest of the weekend mostly in bed, gathering myself, and being quiet. I took baths, read, slept, and saw my family intermittently. Now I am better.
It is incredible that we have the capacity to heal ourselves. It is also interesting to observe the people and situations that cause us stress. Looking back at the stressful college tour date, I acknowledge that it was brutal driving almost 4 hours to take my daughter to see a college, spending 5 hours there, and then turning around and driving 4 hours home during a massive rainstorm. Had we booked a hotel, I could have avoided the white knuckle ride home and sustained attack on my nervous system. In that scenario, I took something that was already emotionally stressful and coupled it with a physically taxing experience. Double whammy.
This weekend has been an exercise in mindfulness… watching the frenetic activity of my mind, the thoughts jumping around, the shifting moods and emotions. What a wide range of thoughts and feelings I can have in just two days. Thoughts about future lives, opportunities, careers. But also fears of failure, loneliness, irrelevance. I am noticing in film, tv, and novels more and more when characters have negative self talk. How cruel and vicious it can sound, The most fucked up characters have the most unkind narratives about themselves playing on repeat in their brains. I realize I have quite a bit of this too but now I am aware of it whereas 5 years ago I thought all the problems I had came from the outside.
I feel myself tensing all the time throughout the day. It is a habitual routine. But now when I notice it I release and I can feel the tension exiting. I wonder how much I have held on to in my 47 years. A lot I think. This is why I am so reactive. I am on a hair trigger. Because my body and mind is filled with tension. Through yoga, meditation and mindfulness I am releasing tension and creating space. Inner spaciousness. So when I feel my strong emotions, I don’t combust and self-immolate. It is really hard and very tiring. In my gut and heart, I feel I am working on something yet I have nothing “to show” for my efforts. This is where faith comes in.
“Know that you are right where you belong at this moment.”
I lean on this saying a lot, especially when I feel like I am less, behind, underachieving, depressed, or on the wrong track. Comparison is never helpful, especially when one aspires to something other than the ordinary. Yet I still do it. I constantly compare and say to myself, “Why can’t I just trudge through like everyone else?” I was once able to compartmentalize and pretend, but now when I do, I have panic attacks and physical breakdowns. It’s the integrity of my body. She has my back even when my mind does not.