My body, my vessel

I learned something this weekend. I learned that I can not only love myself but I can be thankful to my body. This is a pretty important thing for me to learn.

Early last week, as I was getting ready for this past weekend’s race, , I pulled a calf muscle. This, after still dealing with an ongoing issue of a hamstring tear from 2 months ago and to say I was feeling frustrated would be an understatement. I am blessed to work in an environment that I have, at my disposal, physiotherapy, massage and acupuncture so I worked with them all to try to get my leg in some sort of shape to just make it through the race. By Friday, my calf was functional for walking but I knew it was going to be a really rough go for the Saturday morning race. Not a big deal though… I have a great pain tolerance and routinely work through injuries and such.

Friday night in the hotel room; 12 hours before the race… my nerves are on, I’m worried and scared a bit… and the unthinkable happens… while putting away my laptop, it slips and falls on my foot. Cutting my toe and breaking it. Bruising and swelling comes up instantly and the pain is searing. Not once do I even think I won’t race though. For the first time in a very long time, I connect. I breath and I talk to my body. Really talk… and not with hate or anger or disdain like I usually do.

My attitude with my body has always been one of me against my body. Out for a run and a muscle starts to go… do I stop or slow and make sure to not injure it? Not on your life… I push on, all the while berating my body for being weak and for betraying me when I need it. I have spent my life starving it, hating it, cutting it and purposely hurting it… why? Because at the root of it all… this body houses someone that I don’t like and, at times, hate. Harsh words, and an even harsher reality when I realized that this weekend.

As I stood there Friday night and stared at my swelling and swiftly bruising toe I silently told my body that it was ok. That we would deal with this, together. That I knew that we could handle it and that it wouldn’t stop us. Something shifted. I don’t know if it’s for good but it’s a start.For the first time in a long time, I treated my body with kindness and compassion.

The next morning as I got ready to shower and get ready, I was alone and quiet in the bathroom and I took some time to actually talk to my body… it sounds odd but I haven’t done that for a long time… not in a connecting way. It wasn’t a pep talk or a “let’s go get er done” sort of thing. It was an intimate and simple few moments of acknowledging what it has done for me and thanking it. Of expressing that I know the demands and the unthanked expectations that I place on it… and letting it know that, deep down, I honour it and do love it. I saw my body in the mirror for the first time in a long time as a part of me that isn’t something to be judged or tolerated or demandingly ordered about, but as a part of me that needs love and acceptance and acknowledgement.

I saw a body that may not look like the “ideal” but that is strong and capable and always, always, always rises to the demands I ask of it – to it’s best ability. Never giving up or giving half best. A body that carried and birthed and nursed my 4 children. A body that has the scars and stretch marks that tell the stories of my life. A body that has carried me through the experiences that have made me who I am today and will be there as I experience what will shape who I am tomorrow. A body that deserves so much more love than I have given it. A body that is, simply, my vessel for this life and all that I have and will ever experience.The home to my spirit and the harbour that my Self resides in.

And something amazing came out of this weekend. A lesson that is still a work in progress, but a lesson that is clearer than before at least. As I ran and climbed and crawled and battered myself through the race – it was as one with my body, not once did I think about whether I was 10 pounds lighter or if my thighs were “too big” or my breasts “too small”… not once did I criticize my body… I ran that race and actually consciously thanked my body as I did… taking time to stop and say to myself how great I was doing and how strong I was – and how proud of myself that I was – how proud of my body that I was that it was doing what I asked and needed of it, like it always did. How as I pushed it, it came through…time and again, even when it was injured and sore and more exhausted than I can remember it being in a long long time. And I loved myself, body and spirit. And it felt good.

As the days pass from Saturday and the race, I’m reminded that it is very much a work in progress and the old habits are still there and the disconnect is still present… but… to have had that taste of what it feels like and how I can be with my body, I know that it’s not only possible, it’s going to be more and more like that.

To be able to have joy and abundance in my life, physically,  is too important to miss because of an inability to love myself.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

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