My Inner Worlds
Travel messes with my routine of morning journaling, exercise, and health-conscious eating choices. I loved seeing my dad this past weekend and staying in my sister’s new home, but every family has their own rhythm for how a day plays out. I adjust and go with the flow, but arrive back home tired, weighing more, and ready to get back to my own operating system (I’m an IT geek’s daughter and love to use nerdy words).
This past trip I actually journaled every morning, an unusual travel accomplishment for me. It helps that my sister has a similar routine where she rises before the sun and sits down with her notebook, fountain pen, and coffee. We actually power-walked one morning, giving me an exercise credit in an otherwise sedentary trip. However, I cheated on my refined sugar intake and accidentally ate gluten. I rarely cheat with sugar, but never with that wheat-based substance that hates my GI tract. My lack of consciousness about what I ate appalls me. I’ve felt crappy for two days now and keep telling my depressed thinking that it’s a false low—I’m not really sad, it’s just the sugar spiral that happens every time.
Is publishing this my way of staying accountable? I suppose. I’ve never been able to hide my sugar indiscretions from Matt because mood swings are kinda hard to control. But this is a first putting it out into the cyber world. In the spirit of honesty, I also skipped a scheduled yoga class Monday night. I had intended to go, but felt too dehydrated for the hot room. My first hot yoga session two weeks ago had me sick in bed the next day because I didn’t realize how much hydration sweating for an hour in a 100-degree room required. I’ll get back on the yoga wagon with tonight’s hot yin.
I love my family and enjoy our visits, but I’m glad to be back home and ready to start a new page of living the healthy lifestyle my body craves.
Today I visit my Dad, a man who literally gave me life. If it hadn’t been for him delivering my newborn self into this world, Mom and I might have died in a difficult birth. He and Mom have kept the scissors used to cut my umbilical cord, but I won’t post that gross picture. Instead here is one of Dad, my niece Freya, and me when we gathered together for a few days of treasured quiet.
I enjoy our time together. As the years pass, I see more of Dad in me—analytical, definitely introverted, skilled in math. We chill around the house where he and Mom raised my siblings and me, working on our computers, reading, and talking when we feel like it. Last visit I burned a frozen gluten-free pizza I “treated” Dad to, and he ate it with no complaints. That’s love, huh?
Eleven years ago Waterman, the fine writing instruments company, held a promotion of their new line of Exception pens. I submitted my entry into their “Exceptional Father’s Contest,” where writers had to convince the judges in less than 250 words why their dad was the best. Their plan was to roll out the winners on Father’s Day, but it didn’t happen. When June came and went, I figured this was yet another writing effort that I tried and could shelve. October’s chill arrived and along with it, both Dad and I received an incredible gift: a Waterman Exception Night and Day pen for the larger-handed father and a smaller Exception Slim pen for me. I was ecstatic. One of my friends has turned me into a pen snob, and here we were awarded with the ultimate (in my world) snobby gift. That pen goes with me everywhere in my purse. I actually rarely use it because the refill cost offends my accountant brain, but I love knowing that connection to my dad is next to my cell phone and mirrored powder compact.
To show my respect for an incredible dad, here is the entry I submitted:
My Exceptional Father
Men play a part in bringing a child into this world, but some men are cast to play the leading role. Mom had a long, unpredictable labor without the usual indicators that say, “Leave for the hospital!” A baby ready to breathe her first trapped my expectant parents in their small-town home.
Mom was struggling to give birth as Dad called a neighboring town’s doctor, the only option now that a one-hour drive to the hospital was impossible. The doctor didn’t make housecalls. Instead, an IT geek expert in mainframe computers was about to deliver his first baby. The doctor was kind enough to guide Dad through the process, but no one was prepared when baby got stuck.
There were no heart-monitors, teams of specialists or emergency C-sections. There was Dad, who got on his knees and prayed for mother and child. I popped out almost immediately, a miracle in the dead of that May night.
It was Dad who caught me in his sure and steady hands. It was Dad who cut my umbilical cord before it became popular for men to even be in delivery rooms. It was my exceptional Dad who gave me life thirty-six years ago.
Our bodies are expressive, beautiful, and possess an inner working where we feel little control. From my earliest years I have been sensitive. As a kid I would lose consciousness from the pain of an injury when one of my siblings might only shed tears. Frankly, my body told me a lot of things I was too young to handle, so I learned to shut off communication. It worked…sort of.
My body felt the dismissal. Its feelings went unheard, its knowing unacknowledged. So thirty years ago this summer, we had our biggest fight ever. My teenage self stopped feeding it. What sane person would stay in a relationship where one partner decided the other would get as little as possible? We were head-to-head—me liking the size two jeans after spending my childhood as the chubby girl; my body slowly being destroyed in an attempt to remain functioning.
While I’m intensely stubborn, I get it from an expert. My mom. The anorexia got to a point where she wouldn’t pretend I was still healthy, and her “food is love” weapon battered my self-hate until I finally started eating. The problem didn’t go away. It just got elusive and hid in socially-acceptable dieting and obsession over imperfection.
Fast forward to my early marriage years. Thankfully I couldn’t starve myself after Matt and I spoke our vows and forged a life that was ours. That didn’t stop the self-hatred, but I didn’t see it as such until many years later. I obsessed about my weight and ruined our first vacation as a married couple. I had told myself in the months leading up to our Southwest excursion that I would be happy if I lost two pounds. Well, I didn’t lose the two pounds, mainly because my body didn’t have two pounds to lose. Sure enough, I wasn’t happy. But it was my own self-realized doom that cast a pall on our trip.
My body wanted to be on better speaking terms with me. It’s forgiving like that. Around the same time I experimented with the weight-happiness ratio, it tried to tell me I was in a dangerous situation. I had a (short-lived) job where sexual harassment was the norm in the office environment. I developed unexplained allergies requiring drugs that would knock me out for an entire day. The pattern became work two days, eyes swell so badly I couldn’t see, take mega antihistamines for one day, go back to work for two days, recover with drugs again over the weekend. Repeat on Monday. After a few weeks of that, even I couldn’t ignore the cadence of my body urging me to get the heck out of that place. One of the guys had targeted me as an interest. There had been “bad stuff” that happened to two ladies who worked there, allegedly by this guy (and I believed them). Did I really need my body’s reaction to be as dramatic as it was? Obviously. I’m glad it kept me safe when my rational mind wouldn’t connect the dots.
I’ve grown in gratitude for my body. Each year or two brings new enlightenment. This past winter I noticed I still have waves of self-hate flowing underneath my day-to-day activities and thinking. I’ve gifted my body to a yoga practice focused on yin, hoping it will still speak to me in those soft whispers after all my years of neglect. This is the third week of yoga, and my body has begun allowing me to hear those secrets it carried for us. I’m sorry I’ve made her hold our feelings without my support or love. And I’m grateful to have this chance to reconcile.
I’m two weeks into my burgeoning yoga practice (the word instructors use instead of “workout”). The first session blew my mind. Why did I wait so long to begin what my body has been screaming at me to do for years? The new studio near my house offers two types of yoga: yin and Bikram. I had never heard of either, but yin practice grabbed my attention with words like fascia and soft tissue.
Over five years ago my back spoke to me using pain. “Something isn’t right and we want you to pay attention.” My friends referred me to their awesome chiropractor, and my incredible employer gave me a high-end office chair for ergonomic back support. The news from my chiropractor wasn’t good: adhesions, no cervical curve (i.e. the curve that everyone has in their neck is not in mine), unexplained anomalies that made sense when I remembered how many times I fell as a child and knocked myself unconscious with a blow to the back of my head. The situation worsened in May, 2016 when a car ran a red light in downtown Raleigh and broadsided my beloved Camry, not ten minutes after I’d had a chiropractic adjustment. In shock and feeling like I’d just wasted $50, I called the chiropractor’s office hoping they might take mercy and give me a free visit. The assistant scheduled a full workup for the next morning, and that started my painful five-month path to recovery. However, I didn’t return to the pre-accident interval of spinal manipulations. In January, 2017 I visited the chiropractor at least once per week and decided three weeks ago that this is not how I want to live the rest of my life.
Did I need to reach that point to become open to yoga’s appeal? Maybe. I’m a financial person and paying $50 per week has gotten old. I’d rather pay $100 per month for something that leads to a healthier, stronger future. Getting my spine cracked doesn’t change the underlying tissue that won't hold the vertebrae in place.
Two weeks ago while I played Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, Matt—my super-loving husband—searched online and found a newly-opened yoga studio near us. The following morning (because we game ALL DAY) I clicked the link and decided to give yin yoga a try that afternoon. The website’s use of words that my chiropractor repeated for years drew me in. I didn’t know that adhesions could be released in a yoga posture over time. I thought I was stuck with them for life. Yin yoga is my doorway to a new me, a rebirthing of who I can be.