Sometimes, I feel like I’m at war with my body.
Not in the way my teenage self was – comparing myself to my less curvy friends, hating the way my thighs touched. Always being aware of how much cleavage I exposed (whether I wanted to or not.) It’s a bit more like during my burn out period where I suffered from crippling anxiety. But let’s back things up a bit…
A few months ago I started a coaching program with a nutritionist, and my number 1 goal was gut healing. I knew I had trouble with nutrient absorption, and I knew I had to stop eating foods from my sensitivities list (namely gluten and dairy), but I’d been unwilling to give them up. If I understand correctly (and of course, I’m not a doctor), eating food you’re allergic/sensitive to creates inflammation, which can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat. Pair this with mostly vegetarianism (I eat a little bit of fish), and a dislike for dark leafy greens, and you have a recipe for iron deficiency.
I’ve been noticing for a few weeks that I’m becoming easily tired… unable to exert myself in the same ways… even the stairs in my home were becoming too much. I often felt weak, depleted, trembly… this made me very emotional and often I felt very unempowered. Like my period of extreme anxiety, I’ve felt my body was betraying me.
Sure, I’d made a lot of bad choices when I was young. I can honestly say (with a bit of shame for sure), that I spent a year eating Burger King for dinner 4-5 nights per week. I binge drank in my teens and 20’s. I moved out of my mom’s house when I was 17 and still in high school, and it was tough to get by… these were not my most nutritionally sound years. So when the symptoms flare up, and I feel completely out of control of my own body, I get angry at her… younger me… I blame her, because she is someone to blame. And I’m doing myself no good.
My lifestyle changes have made me very aware of the mind-body connection, and I became acutely aware of the changes happening to me. And thank goodness. I could have easily been ambling along, unattuned, unaware, unconscious of the calls for help my body was making through these symptoms. Last week, I went for a stress test on my heart, and the clinician looked at me and said “Oh darling, what are you doing here? You’re much too young!” My youth didn’t stop my heart from climbing to a scary 173 beats per minute. It doesn’t stop my body from sweating over a casual walk. I am in no less shape than I was a few weeks ago, this is something more… something bigger. And frankly, it’s terrifying. A friend reminded me today that the anger doesn’t help, and that my choices from the past may have nothing to do with what I’m experiencing today… these are rational thoughts. But in the moment, there is nothing but fear… and fear breeds a lot of ugly feelings.
Before I met my husband, I felt like I’d had a good life… I’d lived lots in my young years, and so if it was my time, I was okay with that. But now… I can’t imagine there ever being enough time on this planet with him. I go to this place of anger, being so frustrated at making all of these positive lifestyle changes, and yet it not being good enough… that somehow my body is punishing me.
I’m sharing this very open, very vulnerable, very scary time in my life with you, because I want you to know that I know first hand how real the struggle is. I’ve had the good fortune to love myself when people from the outside tell me that I’m not worth loving. I’m capable of holding my head (or my middle finger) high. But there’s still a lot of societal programming in here. There are still the scars from my childhood. And while I can stand in front of a group of women and chat about ways to express your self love, on my darker days, like now, sometimes I too succumb to the little voice inside. I observe it… and for a moment, I listen. But ultimately, I know it isn’t true. Because as I put in our Self Love Manifesto – the negative voice in your head is lying to you. It’s natural to occasionally give in to the darkness… life is a big and sometimes scary place. But witness it, be gentle, don’t judge yourself… pick yourself back up and keep swinging. I know you have it in you.
For now… I find peace in knowing I will keep doing my best. I will exercise self-care which will include all of the hoops my doctor asks me to jump through plus my usual meditation, journaling, and lately, colouring. I will continue to make better food choices and try to find gentle ways to exercise my body. I will practice love love and more love. And when I forget, I will ask those around me to remember. But that’s my path… and you’ll have yours. And if you ever need a cheerleader in your corner – you know who to ask.