I didn’t live in my body for the first 33 years. That sounds crazy – but it’s true and something I didn’t even realize until I recognized that I WAS in my body, for the first time. The disconnect was deep, oftentimes flat out dissociation. I didn’t understand my body, couldn’t care for my body.
There was exactly one way I could be in my body – using food to cause myself pain. I didn’t know I was doing that, either. My body was otherwise completely foreign. I ran away to my head in childbirth. I ran away to my head when I hurt. Even during sex, I was pretty much entirely in my head, worrying, preparing, bracing myself. Every single thing that took place with my body was something I hid from, disconnected from. The disconnect was profound, in ways that as a teenager led to bullying and the deepening of shame.
A couple of weeks ago, I had to run errands and driving alone down the road gave me some quiet time to explore a new space that was forming in me. A space left by the slow extraction of some toxic roots. At first, I was just looking at objectively at this space, but then the more I stared into it, the more upset and afraid I became. My brain kicked into anxiety mode – and then this:
I’m thirsty, I’ll get a diet coke at McDonalds. I deserve it.
I’ve been fasting and doing really well for a couple of days, I’ll get fries, too. I deserve it.
Brain is friendly, amirite? Always looking out.
French fries hurt me, I know this. Somehow, they are still regarded as a treat. So I got some and they tasted so bad, just greasy and filmy. Then suddenly my brain…was… honest, man. It revealed itself. Eat them. You deserve this. I shoveled more into my mouth. So gross. I could feel them sliding to my stomach, instant pain, instant brain fog. You deserve this.
Over the past six months, I have learned to step into pain, to see it as a waymarker towards the things that need healing. I have learned how to sit with it and allow it to rise and do its work. Acknowledge, Assess, Heal, Embrace, Release. Whatever work is necessary with each bit of hurt. But it’s a practice and this void in me is the biggest thing I’ve ever confronted.
In this moment, I saw, for the first time, how I used food to force myself out of my head and into my body, when the pain of cycling thoughts, bad stories, and heartbreaking truths was too much to bear. It is still shame and pain, but it is physical and tangible and easily discounted. It gives me a chance to find places to set the blame for the pain. My brain gets busy on a new and familiar story that I don’t need to worry about – autopilot self-loathing, autopilot promises to eat better, autopilot shit talk about my inability to stick to anything. Woo relief.
I think what was different this time is that I had actually been living in my body for a while. I’m learning to talk to dis bitch. I’m learning to give a shit about it, to recognize it as not only myself, but JUST AS IMPORTANT as my mind and my heartpart and spirit. That you can’t be just a spirit ignoring the vessel. That the vessel itself is magical and gifted and (I still shudder to say, maybe even) beautiful. That as you evolve, you have to fucking literally embody your identity. You have to BE IT. I don’t mean you have to change to match – I mean you have to look in the mirror and recognize it, and fucking adore it. You have to choose to listen up and honor what it whispers back in wisdom, desire, or truth.
It’s not perfected. It’s a practice. We are always growing and that is the magic of being alive.
And I guess that’s the story of how french fries helped me level up?