Note: includes talk of pain, bodily functions like going to the bathroom, and eating/not eating
My body and I don’t always get along. I’d like to think that it is all my body’s fault, that my body is the one causing me pain, but the truth is that I am not very nice to my body either.
A while ago I wrote a poem in my head that went something like this:
If my body was a person
If I was married to my body, I’d divorce it
If I lived with my body, I’d move out
If I could talk to my body, I’d beg and plead
If my body could listen, I’d DEARMAN it
My body causes me pain and unpleasant sensations, and I want to escape it. But I can’t just talk to it and plead with it to please be nicer to me, to not make me hurt, to give me a break just this once because I really need to get something important done right now… I can’t even ask it why it’s hurting me, what caused this, what I did wrong.
I am helpless and lost.
If my body was a person, I could communicate with it. Communication is a two-way street. Right now, my communication with my body only goes one way: from my body to me. It tells me “that hurts,” “don’t eat that, it’ll make you sick,” “bladder is full, please pee,” “stomach is empty, please eat,” “time to go to sleep,” “itch here,” and “now this hurts.”
I can’t say, “why does that hurt? what can I do to make it not hurt? what is wrong with this food? can you please give me a break this once?”
I find it really frustrating because I don’t know what’s wrong with my body or why it acts the way it does. It’s just the way it is. My body is part of me, but I have no control over it. It feels like it is not me. It feels like it makes decisions without me and has a mind of its own. Why do things keep happening? What is wrong? What is going on?!
I’ve been to a fair number of doctors, and no one seems to be able to find anything actually wrong with me. My blood tests show a healthy person. It makes me feel like I’m making it up or overreacting…
I may be overreacting at least a little. It’s a possibility. Pain is very connected to trauma in my mind and body. And connections to trauma can blow things out of proportion. But it’s definitely real and there. As I complained to someone after a doctor suggested it was just due to anxiety, “My knees don’t hurt when I’m anxious; they hurt when I walk down stairs.” There is definitely something going on in my body. I just don’t know what or why.
Maybe I’m assuming that all of my problems are connected when maybe they’re just a bunch of separate problems happening at similar times.
I am hesitant to share online what’s actually going on in my body because:
1) I am worried that people will tell me it’s just anxiety again, which feels really invalidating and upsets me, even if there’s a grain of truth to it;
2) I am worried people will say it’s not a big deal or it’s just normal stuff that I should be able to deal with… –> I can fact-check this. My friends know what’s going on, and they do not experience the same things I do. If similar things were happening to them, it would be more normal. But it’s not.
3) I am worried someone will tell me that it actually sounds like xyz real illness, and I don’t want to face that right now. I know that’s confusing/conflicting because I also want answers for sure. But it’s scary to consider that there might be something actually wrong. I’m very scared of that.
4) I don’t want to even tentatively put a label on it because I feel anticipatory shame around intruding on another group’s struggle if it’s not really my own. In wise mind, I don’t think this is good (I think it’s okay to say stuff even if I’m not sure because my experiences are real and valid), but… emotions… I will write a different post about diagnoses and validity and stuff at some point later because I have more to say about that.
Anyway. There is something going on. My body is not happy with me, and sometimes I don’t know why. (sometimes I do know why! I am making progress!)
I can’t talk to my body and have it listen to my words, but I can take care of it and listen to what it needs. Sometimes I get really frustrated when my body seems to be asking so much of me. “But I just went to the bathroom. But I just ate. It was so much effort. Why do you need me to do it again? Why so soon?” Out of anger, I ignore my body’s needs. I don’t eat, and then my stomach hurts more. It cramps up and feels like it is collapsing in on itself. It hurts. The pain is my body’s way of telling me it needs food, more desperately than it did before. But if I am angry at my body, I don’t want to give it what it needs. I feel like it shouldn’t have those needs in the first place. This is not very nice. When I refuse to meet my body’s needs, I am not being kind to it.
Recently, I have tried more to have compassion for my body. My body is trying its best. It is trying to take care of me. If a baby was crying but didn’t have the language to tell me why it was upset, I wouldn’t get angry at the baby; I would try to take care of it. When I take care of my body, it is less upset at me. If I eat when I notice I’m hungry instead of waiting, I feel less pain later. If I stop to stretch in the middle of a walk when my hips start to hurt, my hips will stop hurting. It takes time and effort to take care of my body, but it makes me feel better later.