We’ve all gone through hellacious times in our lives. The type of experience that wears you so far down that you are running on fumes and fairy wishes.
I just got out of one of those times a couple of weeks ago. The first week afterwards, I focused on all the little things that had I put off. I was busy morning and night “catching up”. Then I went out of town on a mini-vacation. I walked miles everyday, all around the city. I sat in a lobby of a hotel and worked and worked some more. I was proud of myself when I went out and got frozen yogurt – a super treat.
Then, one afternoon, things fell apart. Dizzy spell, absolute exhaustion, fever. I figured it was a bug I picked up traveling. But it didn’t go away in 24 hours…it stuck around for a week and got worse. Sore throat, daily 2-hour naps, and still dizzy as hell.
On day 7 of the “falling to pieces” saga, I video chatted with a friend. She and I had been locked at the hip during the hellacious time, supporting each other as we went. She told me that she hasn’t been exercising, her stress release of choice. That she can barely make it through the day before collapsing on the couch and staring into nothing. She has aches and pains that cropped up out of nowhere.
“You’re not alone” was my reaction. I told her about my body going all wacky on me. I took a deep breath, for the first time in a week.
Hearing that her body was having a similar reaction forced me to acknowledge reality. The stress had knocked me on my ass and my body was forcing me to recover. I had been fighting it, trying to keep up the same pace and pretend that nothing was wrong. It wasn’t helping.
After we hung up, I felt lighter. The next day, when I needed a nap, I didn’t sigh or get upset. I thought of my friend and what I’d tell her.
So I got into my favorite jammie bottoms, put on my sound machine, and cuddled in. I sat outside with a book, I watched the clouds, and did whatever sounded good at the time. I got better.
My struggle was my own, but I wasn’t alone. Just knowing that someone was going through a similar experience made me stronger. Everything I was experiencing was ok. I could take my own advice. I could get through this.
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What I see: Drive, physical strength, and endurance.
“Stomach stomach sticking out, how I want to cut you out”
– start of a journal entry, circa 1994
Flip through family pictures and you’ll see I rocked a belly from the moment I was born. Pictures of me jumping into a pool at Disney World when I was six, round little tummy leading the way. Frog jumping contest, t-shirt snug against me as I whack the mat behind my bullfrog. Year after year, picture after picture. That tummy stands out to me like a beacon.