All our inner life and intimacy of soul longs to find an outer mirror. It longs for a form in which it can be seen, felt and touched. The body is the mirror where the secret world of the soul comes to expression. The body is a sacred threshold and it deserves to be respected, minded and understood in its spiritual nature. — John O’Donohue, Anam Cara
As it turned out my fibroids were too big to be removed laproscopically so instead I had an open myomectomy last Monday. Fourteen fibroids were removed weighing one pound in total (!!) The largest ‘broid, as we now call them, was 8cm in diameter. My surgeon took a photo of them to show me afterwards and a) I love that he did that b) they aren’t pretty and c) I’m amazed I carried them in my body. My two-night stay in hospital was an HSP nightmare but I’m now safely at my mother’s house discovering what it’s like to recover from abdominal surgery.
The body deserves to be respected.
Yes. This. A thousand times, this.
I’ve been cycling through different beliefs about my body over the years: I am not my body. I am so much bigger than my body (still believe this). Yet I am utterly my body. My body is my soul made flesh and bone. In the past there was always a distancing between me and my body. “It” was defective leading me to believe I got shortchanged in the body department. Thankfully this has been changing, as I wrote about here.
There has been no distance between me and my body during these last 10 days post-surgery. Every twinge, every pull, the passage of every bit of food through my system, has been felt and experienced. The first time I sat on the loo and had some success I hugged my arms around myself in relief and kissed my own shoulders, silently telling my body I loved it. The first shower made me cry emo tears of gratitude. My body is magnificent. As I told Jo the next day, I will never talk shit about my body again. My body is my truest companion. We’re in it together.
Our bodies have their own animal wisdom, their own way of doing things that we have no control over. My body knows how to knit itself back together. When the hospital called to check in and see how I was doing, I told the lady who rang about the twinges and stabbing pains I’m getting: “It’s your nerve endings joining themselves back together” she told me. MY BODY IS DOING THIS ALL ON ITS OWN. The excision of 14 fibroids resulted in a helluva lot of internal stitches, so even as I watch my external wound heal (a 7 inch cut) I know there’s so much more work happening deep within me — in more ways than one.
I’ve been journalling about the connection between the fibroids and my seemingly perpetual singledom over the last decade since his death. The surgery feels like the most symbolic clearing out I could have had, old hurts swept out as my sacral chakra got retuned, ready for the next stage of the journey.
Today I turn 42 and I’m doing so much better than I was a week ago. In fact, so much better than I was five years ago. Or ten years. Better than I’ve ever been before in my life. Aging suits me. I like it.
The body is your only home in the universe. It is your house of belonging here in this world. — John O’Donohue, Anam Cara
I’m going into hospital tomorrow to have my fibroids removed. The procedure is called a laproscopic myomectomy and hopefully it won’t be upgraded to anything else half way through — everyone is under strict instructions to LOOK AFTER MY WOMB! at all costs.
While I’ve been under general anaesthetic before (a story for another time, perhaps) I’ve never had an actual cutting-and-stitching internal operation, so I’m feeling pretty nervous, understandably. I’m nervous about the post-operative pain. I’m nervous about staying overnight in hospital. I’m anxious about having no control over events. I’m resistant to surrendering my independence and being looked after for a while.
But even with all that jangling around my head, I completely and utterly trust my body.
I started writing a couple more paragraphs here about what I’m realising and what I’m learning yadda yadda but you know what? For now I’m just going to inhabit my body and be fully present to whatever it needs — whatever I need — and we’ll see how we get on this week. Hopefully I’ll be pain-free going forward as I step into my future, ready to release old pains from the past as my womb heals and my luscious self returns.
See you on the other side x
Lately I’ve been noticing more and more media spewings about the perfect body. About erasing dark circles and wrinkles. About controlling what you eat. About the 50 Hottest Women in the World! About actresses who “look good” for their age. About the Beautiful People and who they are procreating with. About fatness and thinness and shades of skin colour as if the body is all there is.
I buy magazines to cut up for #creativityreboot fun and suddenly notice how young the women in the pages are. How a feature about anti-wrinkle creams is illustrated with close-ups of teenage faces that have probably still been retouched. I read about actresses getting digitally slimmed and perfected in films and my heart just hurts.
It’s all so preoccupied with the external.
I know so much of it is animal instinct — it’s sex, basically. Women want to attract a mate so they want to look appealing to catch the attention of potential suitors. That basic instinct is woven through our DNA. We’re most fertile when we’re young, so youthfulness becomes most desirable. Then we wonder about our competition, so we become interested in who’s more appealing and where we land in the desire-ablity charts. Our genes want to be replicated — it’s all about survival. It’s about immortality and the fear of death.
I spent a large chunk of my young life wanting this perfection and feeling cheated that I didn’t have it. How I LOOKED was more important than anything else. The surface of my body was how I measured my worth and most of the time I found it to be lacking. I wasn’t photogenic, the holy grail I wished for for my first 30 years. I didn’t have the self-awareness needed to look deeper than my skin and begin healing my hurts, so I became obsessed with the pieces I could see with my eyes. All of this external preoccupation wasn’t caused by the media but it was certainly exacerbated by it. As women we were told we’re second class for so long it got absorbed into our collective psyche. And now that bras have been burnt and we edge towards a society filled with equals? We’re hit again in our tenderest of places — we’re judged on how we look by the harshest critics of all: ourselves. Has there ever been a more effective way of keeping people down? We’re so busy worrying about how we look there’s no time for anything else. We could probably take over the world if we weren’t stressing about fitting into our skinny jeans.
I’m making sweeping statements here, of course, and on the other side of this there is so much amazingness in the world. Possibility and freedom, knowledge and progress. Art and music, inspiration and joy. And love, there is plenty of love. I see it and I feel it and it fills my heart. And yet there are still too many mornings when I look in the mirror and make a split-second judgment on my attractiveness. It’s as automatic as taking my next breath. Since hitting my 40s the unspoken judgment is most often “I look tired” even if I feel rested, and though I no longer voice it, I can still feel the chilly backdraft of “not good enough”.
I feel as frustrated with all of this as I did the first time I read The Beauty Myth and started becoming conscious of how I was disempowering myself. The older I get the easier it is to see what’s really important but that doesn’t mean I’m now magically immune from wishing I was more classically beautiful. Writing that in public really shines a light on how meaningless that desire is and how so much of all this was written into my blueprint when I was younger. I don’t believe we can rewire our thinking to the point where such desires are erased, but I do think we can hold the light AND the dark of who we are. Awareness is where it’s at. I am aware of my desire AND I know what’s more true for me. I can be gentle and loving with the part of me that still believes I should look a certain way AND celebrate the fact that I have a fully functioning body that houses a beautiful soul.
I imagine it’ll take generations to filter out this messed up perfection-is-everything ethos. As sentient creatures we’re still so very early in our collective development. We still kill each other. We still wage wars over an unseen man in the sky. We’re still so unbelievably self-destructive, like toddlers who put their fingers in electricity sockets to see what happens. So maybe it makes some kind of weird sense that we still make lists of who’s the Richest or the Most Beautiful or the Most Clever as if those things have any bearing on how to live a worthwhile life. We are still learning. We’re only just graduating from evolutionary kindergarten.
This post isn’t what I intended to write when I opened my laptop this morning, but it’s been burning a hole in my head for a while and clearly needed to come out.
Despite all the screwed up crap in the world I still believe in the magic. My most fervent belief is that if we heal our own hurts so we don’t pass them on, the world could change overnight. If we dared to look beyond the external to find out what’s truly going on inside, our way of being in the world would transform. So I’m going to continue remembering who I really am, and sharing what I find, and making stuff that helps others do it too.
This pin sums it up for me. xo
When December began I wasn’t sure of my word for 2015. Usually the right one floats up into my consciousness as the year draws to an end but this time I needed more time to reflect. Creating — and doing — the Find Your Word mini course was SO helpful (and fun! I love the community that’s been created). There’s always been mindfulness and intention behind my word choices but this year I’ve had the chance to delve deeper into the whys of my choice.
Some of my previous words proved to be wildly empowering — BRAVE, EXPAND and OPEN were all dynamically useful words that helped me create change in my life. Other words have been less helpful: COMPASSION, for example, was a bit of a cop-out in 2011. The more I do this practice the more I understand what works and what doesn’t — and why it’s such a valuable thing to do each year.
Last year’s word was MIRACLES and while I definitely witnessed some wonderful occurrences in 2014, I now realise I was relinquishing control and hoping that something ‘out there’ would create the changes I desired. MIRACLES was not a word I could participate in — it was a word I hoped to observe, and that turned out to be rather disempowering. I don’t regret my choice (this isn’t a lifelong commitment after all!) but it’s made me determined to make a more considered choice for this year…
NOURISH. Oh my goddess, yes. This is my word for 2015.
This is going to be the year of absolute self care in the best possible way. I’m at an age where I see that no one else is going to look after me — and I don’t want them to. I spent my 20s wanting someone else to, but that’s just not how it works. I am in charge of me and my life. I am responsible for making sure I am looked after. And so NOURISH is going to help me really sink into what this means — and most importantly, implement it in my day-to-day life.
All decisions and choices this year will be passed through my “is this nourishing?” filter. Work and play, love and life, everything. What is most nourishing for me in this situation? In this friendship? In this business decision? In this choice I’m making? What’s the most nourishing thing I can do for myself right now? This week? This month? Today?
And most of all, in all things, in everything: If it’s not a hell yeah, it’s a no. Full stop.
NOURISH includes but also reaches much further than food and nutrition. It’s how I care for my body and mind, my heart and soul. It’s how I treat myself — and how I let others treat me, too. It’s boundaries and rest. It’s an open heart and the relinquishing of expectations.
I also have an inkling that NOURISH will be woven deeply into the work I share this year. I can already feel it as I journal my way through plans for my business: A meditation album. An oracle deck (finally!). A delicious new course. A new website. All of it nourishing for me and nourishing for YOU.
I reached the end of 2014 depleted and bone-tired. I’m so ready to be nourished from the inside out.
I reckon this is going to be a good year. :)
What’s your word for 2015?