my body is an impetuous child
"okay, okay...just stop screaming at me."
"what do you want?! i cannot understand you!"
"shhh, shhh, shhh, it's okay, we are taking care of you."
"dear GOD. what the hell is wrong with you?"
"this is really unfair. calm down."
No, I am not relaying the phrases I utter to screaming children. These are the phrases I've uttered to myself over the last week. Quite unexpectedly, my body broke. I've therefore had to practice being nice to it.
Many of you know that I am a wayfarer for self-care, for being gentle to one's soul, for quieting that nasty inner-judge. Though I've grown in this area, I never really had to apply the theory to my physical-self. I still hear unhealthy voices speaking badly about my body and have always ALWAYS struggled to combine the body-mind (to borrow yoga phraseology) and live holistically. I've often described my head as my biggest muscle and I still value living cerebrally over athletically. I continually feel surprised when I see my reflection - thinking that my soul and my body look nothing alike, are shockingly incongruous. I would like to strike a more soulful balance regarding this.
One way I work on this is in self-portraits, taking photos not just of the parts I like, and not overly-focusing on the parts I dislike...but just letting a picture be a picture. Letting Candace be Candace for all her guts and glory.
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
and I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat and snicker.
And in short, I was afraid."
My body decided to give me this chance. After I took two horrific falls while rollerskating a few weeks back, I had to gingerly tip-toe around my bruised tail-bone. Once that cleared up, however, my neck decided it was its turn to scream for attention. I have never experienced pain like that in my life, and the spasms kept me not only from work and sleep, but also from entertaining any other thoughts than figuring out how to alleviate the pain. Oh, and I also had (have) a lingering chest/head cold.
Interventions for the week included the following:
- 2 hot baths/day
- 4 chiropractic adjustments
- 1 massage
- 1 acupuncture
- 1 doctor's visit
- A delicious prescribed cocktail of Naproxen, Tylenol, and muscle relaxers
The last one worked and I was finally able to sleep through the night. I am now only taking Naproxen to keep down the inflammation. There was no specific diagnosis, but I heard whiplash, pinched nerve, muscle spasm, and pre-flu muscle aches. Whatever it was, it was despotic to say the least. My body, for once, required that I pay it the undivided attention it deserved.
Sometimes I thank my feet at the end of the night for all they do. Often, I sooth my hands with manicures. I pamper my face with facials and expensive products. I get my hair done. I lotion my skin every day. I do take care of myself, but in most cases it ends up being more about keeping up my appearance than having to do with being intentionally soulful. The luxury of having and spending money on myself does my soul good, but the disconnect between the physical act of care and the soul's reception of it as kindness is all too prevalent.
So I decided to treat the pain with deep breaths. I let my belly release the anxiety of it, to let the throbbing do its thing - that of taking the toxins away from the inflammation. I had to treat my neck like a coddled 5-year old who doesn't yet know that it's unrealistic and rude to demand so much. They haven't learned to deny themselves; it's their right to command the attention. And it will change soon enough. I visualized my pain as an endearing child that I couldn't resit picking up and hugging. Who knows if it helped, but I do know that I approached the shadows without judgement or fear and had to be excruciatingly patient with myself - and that, THAT...is fucking self-care.