For as long as I remember, my body has never been good enough for me. When I was a little girl, I hated it for being so small. Then I became a teenager. Suddenly it wasn’t small enough. The pattern repeats throughout my life: Not tall enough, tan enough, skinny enough, strong enough. Not fast enough, not coordinated enough. Not enough. Period.
And while years of psychotherapy have helped me get past a lot of my self-hate, I still hate something about my body: Now, it’s never healthy enough.
(Go figure. Hardy har har.)
My body is always to blame. When I’m tired but my brain says it’s IMPOSSIBLE to say NO, I defer to my brain. When I eat, I eat what my brain says to eat, hitting that voice in my head saying “a pint of mint chocolate chip will hurt your gut for days!” like a kid at Chuck E. Cheese playing Whack-A-Mole. Even after years of living with chronic illness, Mind Over Matter is my mantra with exercise—tweaked knee be damned!
And guess what? When conflict arises (especially the kind of conflict that requires me to disappoint someone else), my body is the first to break.
Poor thing. It’s never been listened to. Until it started holding me hostage with illness.
I realized this yesterday as fatigue forced me onto the couch. There I marveled at an observation I made while talking with my BFF the night before: “BFF,” I said. “You know your problem? You think too much! Your brilliant brains are keeping you stuck in this situation you complain of!” (All of this is communicated in my it’s-Friday-night-and-I’m-three-drinks-deep voice, delivered with my condescending I’ve-got-my-life-figured-out face.)
I recalled this as my brain was doing its best to will me off the couch. In fact, my bully brain was pressuring me to do ALL THE THINGS (fold the laundry, clean out your closet, arrange some flowers, feed the dog, run to Goodwill, write 1,000 words…).
My plan was to accomplish ALL THE THINGS while my husband and daughter were at swimming lessons. A 30 minute swimming lesson that’s located 10 blocks from our house.
I send my BFF an apology for my lecture and admitted to her my epiphany. Then I took a deep breath. I paid attention to my body.
It was happily fed. It had already been on a walk. And it was tired. It wanted to stretch. It wanted rest.
I thought of my poor body. I thought of my heart. I watched as my brain totally flipped out about wasting the only solo 30 minutes I’d get all weekend.
I fell asleep.
And when I woke up, I had the energy to be present with my family the rest of the day.
Maybe it’s time I start being a better listener. To my BFF and my body.
Does your over-thinking brain hold you back?