I’ve been participating in a journaling group recently. Every month we get a workbook emailed to us, with weekly journal prompts, tarot card spreads, and meditations. Additionally, there’s a group (NOT ON FACEBOOK, HOORAY) to connect with other members of the group.
So, last month was focused on the theme ‘nourishment’. It was broken down into four categories – Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual. Throughout the month, the journaling and exploratory process brought about the following summary of what’s been happening in my life for the past 34 years. One of the questions was, ‘which category do you neglect’. Lately? Physical, duh. The more I unraveled this idea, the further back I was taken, and the more insight I received.
Up until my mid-twenties, I was mostly aware of the ‘Physical’ and ‘Mental’ aspects of myself. The emotional part of myself was absolutely running the show in my subconscious, but I was taught that the only acceptable emotion was ‘happy’, so that’s the mask I put on as a young child and kept on until like 3 months ago 🙂 ‘Spiritual’ to me meant going to church, living a sin-free life (which also meant no fun or freedom, in my adolescent opinion), and praying to a dude with long hair (why did it have to be a dude? I always wondered).
‘Physical’ and ‘Mental’ were what I focused on in my conscious life, but by far the most energetic investment was spent on the ‘Physical’, whether I really realized it or not. When I was growing up, I was involved in a ton of athletic activities. As soon as I could walk I was enrolled in dance lessons, then gymnastics, softball, tennis, track, figure skating, competition cheerleading, wakeboarding, gymnastics. I think that’s it. I remember my mom talking about how ‘keeping kids busy kept them out of trouble, and keeps you from getting fat when you’re older’, which was why we were constantly being shuttled to some athletic activity. Don’t wanna get in trouble or be fat! :-/
There were so many benefits to these activities, and there is no doubt that they enriched my life in many ways. I’m very grateful for the privilege and access I had to organized sports like this. I learned to set goals, I learned to move my body and understand how it moved and functioned. Exercise is good for an overstimulated person, so I know it helped me in many ways. It taught me healthy competition (at the beginning, anyway), and the philosophy was pretty straightforward – train hard, and you win. Do another rep, another sprint, get your body stronger. As long as your body is stronger than those around you, you will prevail. As I got older, the messages got more intense and less helpful. Coaches saying things like ‘If you don’t puke or pass out when you cross that finish line, you didn’t work hard enough’, or ‘Pain is weakness leaving the body’. Those are probably the two most damaging that come to mind immediately.
Those mantras were really my existence for a major part of my adolescent years, and I’ve worked incredibly hard to first recognize them, and then unlearn them. I am still working on it. Even though I was so immersed in my physical self and had a lot of distractions to keep me from looking ‘within’, I realize now that my entire childhood was saturated with intense emotional and mental struggles, but I didn’t even realize that at the time because I was so intertwined in my physical. There was zero awareness. When you aren’t encouraged, but punished for expressing emotions, you learn ways to hide from them and ignore them.
Luckily, I was born naturally kind of smart, curious really, so my mental self was also developing pretty well. I was never the smartest in the class, but I had my strengths. I’ve always felt like I view the world differently, more like from a 50000 foot, birds eye view. I’ve always seen connections very very clearly. It’s impossible for me to think of something (an object, person, concept, place, etc) without seeing in my mind’s eye all of the things it’s connected to. I haven’t really found a way to articulate this the way I actually experience it, but I’m working on it 🙂 So, I always loved to read, explore nature, learn new things, hobbies, etc. So in addition to the physical, I suppose it did balance out somewhat with the mental.
That is until I got into my high school years. I think at that point, horomones just kicked in, and I’d undergone such physical transformation from my awkward younger years, that all I cared about was boys boys boys and the occasional girl(although this is a whooooole different story in itself!). I realize now that much of my identity became based on what my body looked like, how it performed, what others thought of it, how it was compared to what society expected, the list goes onnnnn. It makes me sick to think of the time and energy spent trying to impress some shitty little high school boys that only cared about me for one reason. I could dive down to the depths of the ocean with this topic, but I’m trying to stay near the surface here 🙂
So, to recap, the first 20-something years of my life were spent living in my physical and mental selves. Since I never invested ANY time in understanding my emotions (other than a forced stint in group anger management counseling when I was 16, what a joke!), I wasn’t interested in spirituality due to my limited knowledge and beliefs about it, it makes sense that the scales would tip eventually, forcing me to balance my libra scales.
In 2012, my coping mechanisms of shoving trauma and pain deep into my soul without any acknowledgement finally backfired. At that point, I was experiencing intense turmoil – on the outside it was career related, but that was merely the tip of the iceberg of my frozen soul. The year came to a close, and on 12-12-12 the ice finally filled up every inch of physical, mental, and emotional space within me. With nowhere else to go, the crystallized energy fractured into billions of tiny particles, shattering everything I knew about myself, my family, and my entire universe overnight.
I spent the longest two weeks of my life in a horrific inpatient facility, shuttered away from access to any real healing or connection with the outside world, and I finally managed to get out after realizing what the inner workings of this system looked like and how it treated people.
After my discharge in 2013, I began the long, slow, painful, at times torturous, heart-wrenching, soul-revealing, heart-healing process of finally discovering who I am and my place in this Universe. Realizing that I had some major work to do in the emotional space of my self, I dove into every resource I could get my hands on to learn more about what happened to me and why. It’s been an incredibly multi-faceted and layered experience – peeling back the layers of the onion in search of meaning and understanding. I’ve been pretty much nearly immersed in this discovery the past 7-8 years – deconstructing, analyzing, exploring, organizing all of these fragments so that I can rebuild.
So here I am, over half-way through 2020. Holy moly. I’m not really sure how almost 8 years have passed, and I’m married, with a two year old. Had a great job until 3 months ago. Haha somehow I managed to participate in other areas of life in addition to the massive soul searching undertaking, which has led me to (one of) my most recent realizations… that I spent the first part of my life ONLY in the physical, but the past 8 years have been the opposite! Oh man, time to recalibrate.
A couple of weeks ago I came down with some type of illness that made me more physically ill than I remember ever being in my life. A few days into it, and I felt like I was back in the labyrinth of my birth with Mila 2 years ago. The physical pain shifted within, and I found myself surrendering to the waves of pain and trusting that the light within me would keep me safe and heal me, if I would start, and continue to listen. I felt an overwhelming movement of energy throughout my throat, heart, and solar plexus during those days, and was brought back to the myth of Inanna and her story that I learned when Mila was in my belly. I remembered hearing the story for the first time… a wonderful, wise crone shared it verbally (the way stories should be told!!!!!) during a ‘Birthing from Within’ class I took. I remembered her sharing the story with such emotion, as if she had lived it herself. I felt like I was by her side, traveling to the underworld, shedding every layer I had. After Mila’s birth I realized she had lived that story, as had I. And here I was, 2 years later, reliving it. The Universe has a way of sharing stories with us to help lead the way.
So after going through this labyrinth again, I ended up in Grady psych ward. Ugh. That’s another long story that I’ve summarized for many, but working on putting into written words for some more processing and action. I’ll post here soon more about that, hopefully.
Now, two weeks later, I’m seeing that the ‘sickness’ was forcing me to take inventory of my physical self now. It’s time to deconstruct what I know and believe about ‘physical health’ and how I relate to it. Oh man, there are some layers here. I’ll save them since this entry is getting long. The exciting thing is that I AM READY. The sickness showed me that now my hard work needs to go into taking care of this vessel that I am borrowing for this time here on earth. The vessel that is yes, just skin, and bones, and muscle, but it is the vessel that carries my heart, and mind and soul as one – so I need to learn to take better care of it. I’ve said these things before, but it’s different now.
My faaaaavorite thing in this life is seeing ‘random’ pieces fit together. I’ve learned sometimes you get the pieces you need out of order. The concept of ‘time’ here on earth can be misleading and confusing. But NOT gonna go off on that tangent, yet 🙂 The pieces I’ve collected recently are fitting together with pieces I found long ago that I wasn’t sure what to do with, It’s exciting and gives me a sense of release and renewal.
I love how I started journaling on this seemingly simple, straightfoward topic of ‘nourishment’, and it led to connecting the dots in this profound way. I’m excited to strive to maintain awareness of these 4 different parts of me, knowing that it will require constant reflection, action, and adjustment. Looking forward to shining light on physical nourishment and doing the work to continue to heal and grow.
Thank you for listening <3 <3 <3