My relationship with my body is improving
Huge thanks to the survivor who anonymously wrote this blog talking about how she began to have an improved relationship with her body again. She sums up how abuse and trauma is embodied, it is carried in our minds and also in our bodies. She talks about how it’s been vital that she had the chance for her body to heal too and how running has allowed her to connect with and feel back in control of her body again.
At RSVP we have several ways you can reconnect with you body again, from offering tai chi, walking, singing and more at our peer social groups and coffee morning, and through a running group offered by our sister organisation GINA. The group is very small and meets on a Saturday morning at Cannon Hill parkrun. Drop Lisa an email at: email@example.com if you’re interested.
Like a lot of survivors, for many years I’ve had a poor relationship with my body. When I thought about it all, I hated it. I felt it had let me down because of the way it responded to some of the things that were done to me. I punished it; I filled it with alcohol, put it in dangerous situations and cut it. Eventually, it dawned on me that my counsellor had been right all along when she told me these were short-term solutions that were ultimately harming me, so I started to run.
At first, “running” consisted of jogging for a few seconds with an extraordinarily patient friend and it’s no exaggeration to say that I looked like one of those nature programmes where baby elephants try to take their first steps – only they have less swearing. Afterwards I had to pretend I was thinking about answers to my mate’s questions (difficult ones such as; are your shoelaces undone?) to hide the fact that I couldn’t speak. Fortunately I’m menopausal- which at least explained away the excessive sweating.
In a short space of time though; seconds of running became a minute, then two. Then I joined a Couch to 5K programme where I was encouraged and coached to run 5 kilometres by some of the most friendly and supportive people I have ever met. That was 6 months ago and I have recently run 10 km for the first time.
Running has been a revelation. My relationship with my body is improving. Rather than letting me down it has powered me to achieve things I didn’t know I could. Now, my heart pounds because I’m running up a hill, not just because I’m feeling anxious again. I’m tired because I ran, not because I sat up all night drinking.
I can feel my calf muscles straining and know that they are mine, that I am my body and my body is me. I can feel aches and pains and interpret them and act on what they’re telling me. For the first time I am learning that other people can talk about my body to me and it is not a threat, there is nothing to fear. When they talk about the shape of my legs or the way I hold my chest it is not a prelude to something awful. It’s another human being seeing me as I am learning to- a whole, complete person that’s doing something amazing and wants to do it better.
When I feel the ground under my feet, it’s impacting on myfeet that belong to me, no-one else. They’re my lungs inflating, it’s my chest rising and falling. And I can stop anytime I want to…
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a panacea. I still get bad days and I can get triggered with the best of them. But now I have an option; instead of reaching for the bottle or hiding in the house, I can go for a run. It can be 60 minutes or it can be six but it leaves me feeling good about myself and in control of what I do. Plus to date, running has yet to give me a hangover.
I still swear at my mate when we’re jogging together though!