'Let the soft animal of your body, love what it loves'.
Oh I have done everything. EVERY. THING.
Let my body love what it loves? Fuck letting my body, anything!
As far as I’m concerned, my body is an asshole. All my life, she has betrayed me. I have spent over 30 years dieting, only for my body to still be one I cannot keep in a wardrobe, for the fucking life of me.
At least, that's my old story.
The new one, is so different. It's still in it's early stages and this is a rough draft, but what I'm working on, is the story of how all my body has ever done, in fact, is tell the truth.
And oh how I've hated her for it. I have hated that my body betrayed about me, what I never wanted to be known.
That I'm 'not good' at staying on diets. That I have no control. That I find restriction to be joyless and imprisoning. That it creates a backlash in me which means as soon as nobody is looking, my ‘soft animal’ will emerge from the shadows, filled with panic and that I may be exposed, to my deepest shame, as the gluttonous pig I really am.
A soft animal, who eats wildly and out of control, as if every morsel is the last supper. And meanwhile the skin I'm in, like Pinnochio's nose, expands, alerting to the world, that I am weak and undisciplined and not a master of my beast. That in spite of all my training and recovery and my desire to be free, I'm a fraud and a bum on the road to nowhere.
What I know now, is that all this dieting, was only ever so that I could eat. To be deserving of a place at the table. To prove myself, trust-worthy and capable. Enough to be in charge of something that, unless it’s on a diet, I don’t know how to feed.
It's only in the last year that I have started talking about this secret, shameful, me. The one who loses all sense of decorum, the minute she falls off the wagon. The part of me, who is the reason I have spent the majority of my life, trying so desperately, to stay on the miserable thing.
The me who, unless someone else is driving, doesn't know where the fuck she is.
It's always been deeply shameful for it to be known, that I can not feed myself. That I struggle to meet my most basic of needs and therefore, demonstrate the degree to which I qualify as a competent adult. And that in the process, I keep failing and seeking comfort, like a child.
This is a shortcoming I have repented for, in every way you can possibly imagine. Oh Mary, your poem makes me cry, because I have crawled more miles than it would take to cross any desert.
Let the body 'love what it loves'? What does that even mean?
I don't even know what my body needs, never mind what it loves. Only last week, I was sitting at my desk here, when suddenly an image came to me, of swallowing a glass of sand. ONLY THEN, did I notice my throat was dry and did it occur to me, to drink some water.
I have no idea how long my body had been thirsty, I simply don’t know how to be open to that information. I don’t even know from what place inside, hunger, fullness and even thirst, makes itself known. My body obviously knows this too and so, translated it’s need for water, into an image that then encroached on my thinking. I live mostly in my head, you see.
And that’s the thing. There is an intelligence in the body that I have most definitely, on occasion, experienced. My default, of course is to override this intelligence and while it’s not particularly useful to look back now, I see how so many times, I simply did not listen to, or trust, the information coming at me from within. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.
I want to change that. I want to learn to access and be open to this knowing.
I met for the first time, held and fed, my two week old baby nephew on Monday and as he lay in my arms, to my surprise, I became acutely aware, at 42 years his senior, that I was experiencing a master at work.
A tiny little body, loving what it loved.
I want to learn to trust my body. To let it be it’s own authority. To know what it knows and experience MY body as a miracle, with good charge and enough grace, to love what it loves.
But how do I get there?
Last week, I wrote about how I realised I had been overriding my body clock and how I decided to trust my internal clock to dictate my sleep cycle, from now on. So, I simply removed a foreign object standing between me and my body and let my own [and mother] nature, lead the way.
That was a month ago, and she has not failed me, since.
Ah, but… c'mon now.
I know. That was a simple enough, change to make. I don't struggle with sleep like I do with food and there had never really been a breach of trust or holy war in that department. But still, what I realise now, is that it's a starting point for me to trust that my body DOES know what it needs and that I can trust it to know.
I found a 'way in' I suppose you could say.
In saying that, with the exception of infinity and outer space, there's actually nothing more confusing to me than hunger and satiety. Never have I been able to intuit this process, for myself. Kind of like how, even though I had been taking piano lessons since I was eight, I could never actually play anything, unless I had the music in front of me. Never by ear. Always from a sheet. I had to very deliberately, unlearn that reliance on instruction.
So, I’m going to have to very deliberately apply these same principles, to intuit the food thing.
So guess what? The diet sheet music has to go. I'm abandoning the whole orchestral arrangement. In fact, I'm cancelling all production of 'Must Lose This Weight Immediately - The Musical', forthwith.
My body knows enough and I know enough and although it's terrifying, I am allowing the space to let my body and me, learn to play together, as a beautiful duet, composing our own score.
[see what I did there? Great podcast on that here, by the way]
This is exciting! And also, Terrifying. I’m in the very uncomfortable position right now. When it comes to feeling into this body, I’ve never really gotten past the gates of despair. That ‘it’ won't do what I want it to do.
That 'it' won’t let me, deny it.
I know now why I was always angry with the truth. Because it wasn't just truth. It was also judgement and harshness and punishment. The ever present threat, of another extreme diet. Another shamed based attempt at fixing me and this body who, because it wouldn't help me lie, was to blame for exposing my vulnerability.
So I'm opening myself up to a new truth now. A story in which I meet a new best friend.
Always, Amanda xx