The Forgiveness of Bodies

One thing I’ve learned during my year of being poorly is that my body is built to heal. Not that I am healed or maybe ever will fully heal. Auto-immune diseases are tricky that way. You think they’re gone and they throw you another curve. Who knew you could get arthritis in your jaw?

But through the ongoing challenges that may be life-long, my body has continually reset to healing. And your body is no different. We are, all of us, made to heal. Sometimes the challenge is small, like a paper cut, and we may not even notice the miracle of our body sealing itself up and what was once a painful bleeding mess is now healthy normal skin.

It works for paper cuts. It works for auto-immune disease. It works for cancer. Our bodies want to heal. And if we can figure out how to support them in that quest, the miracles get bigger and way more noticeable.

It’s amazing how forgiving our bodies are. We treat them badly, sometimes for years. And the moment we start to treat them better, start giving them what they need, they stop hurting, start to head for a healthier weight, start to move and breathe more freely.

It’s so easy to forget that our bodies are on our side, that we are all a team effort, body, mind and soul, and they all want to get us to where we most want to be. Our bodies are on our side and what they most desire is for us to demonstrate that we are on theirs. That we care for and respect them at least as much as we would a child or a beloved pet.

But we have ideas of how our bodies should be. We want to be taller, fitter, with smaller hips and bigger lips, or whatever. In striving for our improved selves, we bowl right past the fact that most of our parts work, in ways that we can’t even name or properly describe. My solid C in 1st year biology all those years ago assures me of that. Plus the memory of reading ‘Call the Midwife’ and frantically Googling female body parts that I didn’t even know I had, never mind the conversations I have with my massage therapist, when she tells me that my aspidistra is really tight and I nod wisely as say “I thought so…”

When I was volunteering at the cancer support centre, I would sometimes have clients come in for a Reiki treatment after they had had surgery. And the feeling I would receive from their bodies was fear and a feeling of confusion. They didn’t seem to understand that the surgery was over. They didn’t know why it happened and were afraid that it was going to happen again. Those of you not familiar with Reiki may find this strange. Heck, I’m a Reiki practitioner and I’m amazed at what peoples’ bodies can tell me!

In the treatment, I would breathe deeply and assure that person’s body that the surgery part was done, that they weren’t being punished for anything, that it was safe to relax and heal. I would try to knit the person and their body back together, to rebuild the trust. It was nice afterward when I could assure the client that the surgery site felt all nice and bubbly, which in my energy vocabulary meant that they were in the process of healing.

I do realize that sometimes our bodies run out of time before healing can take place. Many of my clients at the cancer support centre are gone now. The challenges were too big, the cancer too aggressive, their doctors just not able to turn things around. But even when that happens, our bodies are still trying. Even as we age, they want to move to better health. There have been studies on people in nursing homes who started weight training. And they built muscle and increased their bone density. Many noticed that their balance improved.

I am learning to be more grateful for the body I have, with all its strengths and weaknesses. All its beauty and quirks.

I knew I had made real progress last fall when I was out shopping with my sister. I tried on a really lovely, comfortable dress that fit perfectly. It left my swollen, pterodactyl knees uncovered and I had a moment of hesitation.

“Should I cover these up?” I asked her. “Or should I be proud of what we’ve been through together?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Buy the dress.” So I did.

And sometimes people do look at me funny, with my lumpy knees and my limp. But they’re total strangers and don’t know my history.

My body forgives me every time I fall off my whole food vegan diet. We have a day or two of flare-up and then we get back on track. I go back to eating properly and my body keeps heading for healing.

You are a head-to-toe miracle. Please always remember that.

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