Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Change: 17

 An Attitude of Gratitude
(This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

AE has this way of talking about bodies that makes me feel like I’m living with a superhero.  She talks about the body’s intelligence and how it naturally tries to reorganize itself.  She’ll say things like, “your body is trying to find its way,” and just hearing that sentence makes me want to cry.

She says the body has 2000 pounds of tensile strength. I don’t know if that’s 100 percent accurate, but the point is, it can withstand a lot of multidirectional force and torque without breaking down. It’s built to hold us. Together. No matter what.

When shifts take place deep within us, and our bodies compensate, slowly and quietly, over decades, it’s like the ultimate act of benevolence. Our pain is often the inadvertent result of our bodies doing everything they possibly can so that we can continue to function.

Like a dysfunctional marriage, we often don’t even see the contortions we must assume to keep ourselves stable.  Until, one day, when it all starts to break down.

When AE talks about the body, you can feel the Herculean efforts it makes. It’s a dedication that I too often take for granted.

So I lie on her table, feeling a warmth and appreciation toward my body that I don’t ever feel at any other time in my life. Certainly not when I’m hobbling around, feeling like my foot has betrayed me.

I stand in front of AE’s full length mirror in my pink Jockey underwear and dingy sports bra, focusing only on how fleshy I’ve become since my high school eating disorder days.  And even when, during a New York City dinner, I can feel a little click in my ankle and discover that I can rise from the table and walk, pain-free, for the first time in a month, I don’t spend a minute saying, “Holy shit, Body! You are doing amazing things to make us well again. Is there anything I can get for you? A bath? A hot oil treatment? Maybe just fluff up a few pillows to rest those tired dogs on?”

I don’t ever think those things. But when I’m on AE’s table, I’m reminded that I should be thinking them all the time. And if I could just remember that, it might be the most valuable benefit of all.


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