My house of belonging

My house of belonging |
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.

My house of belonging |

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

53 responses
  1. Arianne Schneider

    What a beautiful statement:
    My body is magnificent…. I will never talk shit about my body again. My body is my truest companion. We’re in it together.
    I shared this on my facebook because… well, I had to. We ALL need to remember to rock our physical manifestations. (I can take it down if you prefer)

  2. Catalina

    I absolutely loved the ” I will never talk shit about my body again. My body is my truest companion. We’re in it together” bit. This is so true…
    Happy Birthday, Susannah. Hope you have a wonderful day.

  3. Rebecca Lovell

    This is so beautiful. It is truly amazing the way our bodies work, and heal themselves. I love it. Thank you!

  4. Rebecca Lovell

    Oh, and Happy Birthday!!!!!

  5. Lauren McGregor

    I cannot tell you how deeply this post moved me. Saving forever. I hope to age with exactly this attitude. At 26, I’ve had several smaller surgeries (including lots of deep, inner stitching) for melanoma and your words about loving your body so much more AFTER these procedures had me in tears. Such profound truth. Thank you <3

  6. Susan

    i had a first operation for endometriosis when I was 24 years old. A long vertical incision because this was in 1964. At age 36 I had a hysterectomy. In retrospect, I was calm experiencing these life altering surgeries. At age 74 however, I understand how my life was unalterably changed. In relationships I always felt I had to apologize in some sense for these scars on my body. I did not love my body. I am still trying to do so as my body ages. A lesson is being taught. Thank you for such a moving story Susannah. You are blessed.

  7. Bekah

    Happy Birthday!
    What beautiful words – a lovely reminder that our bodies are our temples, and that we should treat it accordingly.

  8. Sharon Brown

    So true that we all need to love our bodies unconditionally. Happy Birthday. Love you and so glad you share your life and observations. I know you have made my life better.

  9. Alexis

    Have a wonderful birthday! Do something dreamy.

  10. Vanessa

    Firstly, Happy birthday.

    Secondly, I am sorry to hear about your fibroid surgery. Four years ago, I had emergency heart surgery which led to six rounds of chemotherapy for lymphoma. I remember my first shower after surgery. It was the last time (for a while) that I would be able to wash my hair.

    In the months that followed, I had everything stripped from me. My hair, my strength, and a feeling of trust in my body. Knock on wood, I’ve been able to regain it and I’ve been slowly rebuilding that trust.

    Thank you for talking about how easy it is to lose that confidence in our bodies when they stop “working”. I think it’s a vital part of health and wellness that people don’t mention.

  11. Jo

    We are all walking miracles and you’re one of my favourites. Our bodies are simply the ‘low note’ parts of us aren’t they, contributing to our unique wild songs? Beautiful. Also: I am very honoured that I got to see that photograph. I think : D

  12. Bakary

    ** Happy Birthday Susannah **

    You have much to celebrate – your birthday and your recovery. Bet your mother is enjoying looking after you.

    Life post-fibroids is awesome; my one was the size of a small melon, and gosh I wish my surgeon had taken a photo of it :-)

    Im sure you know this but try and move as much as you can every day. Go for small walks around the house, even if you don’t feel like it.

    All the very best,

  13. Linda Cordero

    So Beautiful and so True, my dear! Congratulations to you on what seems to be a most sacred rite of passage. How exciting! Thank you for sharing it! ?

  14. Lisa

    happy birthday, Susannah. welcome home.

  15. Raquel T

    Happy birthday!! xox

  16. vicke

    Oh, so happy that your body is doing what it was meant to do and that you have learned to get out of it’s way! :-)

    And Happy Birthday, Fellow Aquarius!

    Sending you warm healing wishes and rainbow sparkly fairy dust!

  17. Galia

    OOOhhh, something triggered here in the distant corners of my conscience, something about bodies as gateways- hmmmmmm going to let that brew awhile but thank you Xx

    Wishing you joy and magic- happy 42nd

  18. elizabeth

    I love you so truly, so completely, I love ALL of you not least of which is the sacred poet who writes with such effortless grace about the journey through life. You are a GODDESS.I am so honored to call you friend. AND? HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY!!!

  19. Katja

    Birthday blessings to you, Susannah.
    The wisdom of our bodies grows ever stronger as we age and it’s so important to listen and take good care of her

  20. Sheila Bergquist

    So glad it went well and that you are feeling so much better! Happy recovery!

  21. Katie

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Susannah! I’m so glad to hear you’re on the mend, and I really enjoyed this blog post and your positive and philosophical musings about your body – our bodies. I love the end quote. Thank you a million for writing and sharing this with us. Katie. X

  22. Carmel

    I am so happy to see this beautiful book quoted. In Irish- Cara means friend (also used as a girl’s name).
    Let our bodies be our friend! I can totally empathise with going to the loo after abdominal surgery. When I had a C-section things were difficult in that department. My partner pressed some fresh grape juice and that worked a treat. If I didn’t love him before that day he sure bacame my anam cara after! Stay kind to yourself during your recovery!

  23. Barbara

    Yes!!!!!!!!!! And happy belated birthday!! xox

  24. PauLa

    Susannah this is beautiful and something I wish I’d known at your age. Because of physical problems, I feel like I’ve been fighting my body for a long time but recently that has changed. I had surgery a year ago this month. I am learning to tune in to my body. I often stand before the mirror and tell my body thank you, I love you. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  25. PauLa

    Telling my body I love you, not you. Didn’t want to sound creepy:)

  26. JJ

    This is so beautiful. I couldn’t agree more. I am so happy you are seeing the process for what it is. Amen sistah!

  27. Kathryn S.

    This is beautiful and magnificent; it touched my heart deeply and brought me back to my body. I have had several surgeries to remove what amounted to pounds of endometriosis you articulated so many of the feelings I had at the time of the surgeries and since then, but have struggled to put into words. Thank you for sharing. Happy birthday, happy healing, and much love and gratitude to you.

  28. CaThy

    Hello love, I was just where you are a year ago exactly and it’s been great, it was the best thing that happened to me last year. it changed my life for the best and I hope it’s the same and much more for you too. My brain and short term memory were a bit fuzzy for a couple of month afterwards, I used to joke the drugs I was given were that good! It wore off and I laughed it off. All the best and lots of love, C.

  29. Katarina

    Hi, Susannah,

    I went through the same thing last September. Ended up with a 16 cm scar.

    I can recommend rose hip oil for the scar – it’s a miracle!

  30. Stella

    This post touched me very deeply – thank you, Susannah, for sharing your personal journey.

  31. Gemma

    Happy Birthday Susannah and welcome back,
    This really is a beautiful post and it touched me deeply,
    I had cervical cancer nearly 5 years ago now and its come to my attention that I need to treat my body like my best friend, all its stretch marks, its battle scars are my life story :)

  32. Cheryl

    Happy Birthday, Susannah! Heal well. Heal strong.
    “The House of Belonging” is my favourite poem by David Whyte and contains the line “This is the bright home
    in which I live” which is how I try to remember my body. See here for the complete poem:

  33. Judy

    I loved what you wrote about your body and when you said “I like aging, it suits me.” That was music to my ears. You are a role model for all woman, to teach them “Yes, we can love our bodies, we are gifts to the world.”

  34. Kaiti

    It’s nice to know others are conscious of both the strangeness of having a body and grateful to have it. Glad you’re feeling better. Happy (belated) birthday!

  35. Angela vular

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I hope you continue to rest and recover. Before you know it, you will be healed and better than ever.
    Take care

  36. Alexis

    Hi Susannah,

    I wrote an article about you for my blog. Just thought I would share it with you.
    Love ya, Alexis

  37. Laura

    Happy belated birthday! Hope you are healing well. Thank you for the beautiful words and photographs! So inspiring.

  38. Roxanne

    There is something about surgery, the submission it requires, the trust we must place in strangers. There is a certain kind of loss, loss of control mainly, also loss of independence (if only temporary) and also that of transformation. For the skin that the surgeon’s scalpel has sliced will never be the same, though it will heal. And the scar reminds us that we can, in fact, endure and survive those things which we fear and even dread. The magic of surgery lies in all this, and also in the way in which it forever alters us.

    Peace, love and healing to you.


  39. susannah

    what an honour, thank you Alexis! xo

  40. Tracy

    Beautiful….inspiring and expansive for me today. Thank you and feel well xo

  41. Parisa

    Susannah, happy belated birthday! Your blog is still my refuge of peace… Heal well inspiring lady xo xo

  42. Rizzle

    Beautiful Susannah.
    Healing in so many ways.
    Reminds me of the talk by Eve Ensler, Suddenly My Body, look it up if you haven’t seen it already, you might resonate with it.

  43. shannon

    susannah that pic of your and your mom is priceless !!!!! the cutest most adorable little face ever and now as you age, and not seeing your mom much in the photo, i would have to say you look so much like her ! what an absolute gem of a photo and that little peanut in the picture is doing so much good in the world !!!!! keep it up honey ! you are killin’ it ‘roids and all !!!!!! hugs !!!!!!

  44. Joolz

    so glad you are on the mend susannah! i have noticed a shift amongst a few women i follow on the net, this coming back to our bodies, treasuring them and not rejecting them. i too have been rejecting my defective body for over a decade because of its chronic illness. i see now that i need to reconnect with it and accept it and love it unconditionally. it’s a tough one for me, but i’m working on it. your words here have helped me a great deal and i shall be making note of them in my journal. thank you so much for your beautiful wise words. keep taking care of yourself x x x

  45. Lois

    My life opened out in so many ways after a period of debilitating illness when I had to come to a clearer appreciation of what it means to be a sentient being; consciousness and body. A magical sort of paradox has occurred: experiencing fully through my body and listening to it has also removed the notion of “my body”, like some car I drive around. I like the house metaphor for that reason: a home requires the presence of a person but something is manifested that’s more than the sum of the parts.
    Birthday grin to you.

  46. Jen

    A belated ‘Happy Birthday’ to such an amazing person (that would be You! :)

    You’ve described an incredible revelation and it has certainly triggered something for me as a reader, in a positive way (tears of acceptance and release).

    Thank you.

  47. Cora

    Isn’t it kind of incredible that we think that something can happen to our bodies and that our minds and spirit will not be affected. And yet, all that we experience in life is through our bodies. What an amazing creation is our human body :) Happy belated birthday!

  48. Colleen

    I LOVE this post!
    How you’re discovering how to love your body. How you hugged you and kissed your shoulders. These are breadcrumbs I need to find my way back to mine, discovering, loving, seeing and accepting my body. My mom had ‘broids way back when I was a teen. Your post struck a deep chord within me. This is such a loud, clear message and it’s time for me to hear it. So thank you. Sending you healing hugs and smiles. Brave woman, you. x

  49. Christina Masterman

    Susannah, so much beauty, joy, wisdom and deep healing in your words. Pain and grief, albeit acknowledged and processed has a way of being triggered through further life challenges. Yet through all of this and more, love is always there to support us. Sending you oddles of love, huge hugs and birthday wishes for this special birthday and every day. xx

  50. Terilyn

    “Aging suits me, I like it”. Those words struck a chord in me. Thank you for writing them down!

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