The past year has been full of a considerable amount of changes. And inherent in change is loss- the loss of the old to make way for the new. It was a lot all at once. As a response, in August of 2013, I took an amazing solo trip to California. It was centering, peaceful; it connected me to myself. As life often does though, soon things balanced. I came home with an awful case of poison oak. And awful doesn’t even begin to describe it. Despite all my efforts to be healthy (exercising, eating well, self-care), the last eight months have been full of the worst health I’ve ever had. From poison oak to a torn hip flexor to countless illnesses, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in bed. But all this was ok, I was taking it in stride. Getting over each one and getting back up. Quickly regaining speed. Everything was going along just fine.
But sometimes, all of the sudden, life swoops in and things get confusing, chaotic, and messy for seemingly no reason at all. It’s not that anything is particularly wrong, it’s just not right. And no matter what you do, you can’t put your finger on what it is that is missing. The gap of life opens back up and almost swallows you whole. You thought you had filled it, found the answer, settled in to contentment, but here it is, back again.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I envy you. I have always wished I could live a life that didn’t have that slight little gap in it, that tiny little crack that is persistent and demands to be recognized. I have found no answers, just ways to be ok with it, fill it with a temporary caulk, or turn my back on it. Unfortunately, none of these are permanent solutions.
Recently, that tiny little fracture started making it’s way back into what I thought was a solid concrete wall. Light started pouring in, making it impossible to ignore- I’m broken, fill me!
Instantly I did what I know best. I started exploring it in my own therapy, I read book after book on meditation, buddhism, mindfulness, personal memoirs. I started back up on hot yoga, I joined crossfit hoping to find answers in the focus it takes to complete those intense workouts. And of course I gained strength and knowledge, but that crack was still there. Teasing me.
Today, I sat with a client in a deep amount of pain. The kind of pain that can only come when something completely rips apart your life and suddenly it is unrecognizable as it once was. Transience sets in again. As I was sitting with this client, sitting with his pain, something hit me (from where, I never know- the divine? my unconscious?). I don’t want to call it a voice, because that’s not what it was, but rather some place inside of me, some place quiet but knowing- and it had this message: you need to give yourself time to heal.
Wham! The past eight months of being slowed down by one health issue after the next made sense. My body was begging me, forcing me to please, please stop and just sit for a while. Stop running, stop chasing, stop doing. Sit and heal from all these changes and pain. Once it became clear that I wasn’t going to give myself the emotional space, my body made it more literal- you won’t give yourself time to emotionally heal? watch this- there goes your hip, now you can’t get up and move. Back up? Ok, here’s an illness that’ll put you in bed for a few days… still getting up? Ok, here’s another, and another… SLOW DOWN, JEN! Sit with this pain. Sit with all that has happened in the last year. It is time to just be. Stop doing and just be.
Some people might think I’m crazy for seeing a connection here, but I believe that our physical bodies and our emotional bodies are one in the same; that they feed and effect each other in ways that is incredibly intricate and complex. I believe that perhaps the reason I have been so unhealthy is that my body is trying to give me a very important message. It is time to stop doing. It is time to be in the stored up but still fresh pain that is there from all that has happened in the last year.
Because that’s the thing about pain, if you don’t deal with it when it comes up, it’ll just be there waiting for you when you get around to it.