The only days I intentionally ordered in my month of daily body-prompts were these two. It was a quick decision, based on the assumption that {move} day would be my foray back into the world of exercise in some form or another. There is a dance class and yoga and running all on my June-agenda. Put it at the beginning, I thought: while we're all still motivated to keep up with this thing. And if ever there was a day for a body to {ache}, it's after a day of moving out of its sedentariness into motion. The soreness would lead me to notice my body all day, remember my movement of the day before - even letting the ache usher me into celebration of noticing my body, as it called out to me more loudly than usual.

As it turned out, the most exertion I could muster was walking halfway down the driveway of the retreat house. My neon orange-clad feet crunch-crunched on the gravel, and I expected them at any moment to break into a run. The day before, I'd wandered two driveways down, in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the zonkeys kept there, and had come back with emu feathers, after meeting their previous owners' glowing-orange eyes face to face for a chat. Apparently that was the most I'd be able to overcome the inertia of finally-slowing-down after a semester of go-go-go.

FIERCE  (minus the bedhead) - but he was cool with me gathering the fallen feathers

FIERCE (minus the bedhead) - but he was cool with me gathering the fallen feathers

The most I "moved" was from my bedroom to the curried chicken sandwich in the kitchen and back, or maybe it was drawing the feather collection, or snuggling on the couch. 

So, the next day, my body didn't ache any more than usual. I had the iPhone-tendinitis in my thumbs, and the plantar fasciitis on my heels that has stayed around ever since I was last pregnant, almost 3 years ago. I had the tension and the tightness that betray a stress level higher than I might think "should" be, and exhaustion coupled with sometimes-depression and brain fog. But any other aching was mostly emotional, existential. Hearing sadness or fear in my son's voice, or someone's anger that inflicts pain. My own fear that comes with conflict, with speaking what I really think.

And I hold these things in my body.

"[B]odies...don't lie", Tara Owens says in her book, Embracing the Body. She says they may betray us, but they never lie. 

My sister asked my 5-year-old today a series of questions about me - what I'm good at ("kissing Daddy"), what i'll be famous for ("her art" was his second answer - his first was that I'd be notorious). When she asked him "What makes Mommy happy?", his innocently egocentric answer was, of course, "Me!". But when she asked him "What makes Mommy sad?"? He was genuinely lost. "I don't think I've ever seen Mommy sad, so I don't know what makes her sad."

Since I have struggled with depression since well before his birth, this was interesting to me. Also interesting to me is that, even during the therapy and doctor's appointments when I have been diagnosed with said depression, I do not self-identify as sad. I really can't ever remember feeling sad. Sometimes I acknowledge a loss, and that "I am surely grieving", when my energy level drops even lower than normal. Depression has always had more of a flattening effect for me.

I generally feel a whole lot of nothing. 

Or, at least, nothing that I can identify. See, I also can't remember a time when I was happy. 

I tell people sometimes that I don't feel emotion-as-emotion. I only notice I'm actually feeling something because a certain part of my body tenses, or tears are released, or I'm laughing. Even in those moments, if you stopped me and asked what I was feeling, I'd be completely dependent on those body-manifestations to answer (pretty sure we talked in my psych class this semester about a DSM-V diagnosis that involved that as a symptom. whatever) - and I might ask for multiple choice.

Maybe what I need is to listen - to pay attention - to my body more, its aches and delights - perhaps especially in movement. Maybe it will tell me about myself and God and my world. Just maybe. The subtitle to Embracing the Body is this: Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone. She says in various places in the book that our bodily delights and sensations and even aches point us to God, to truth.

I hope she's right. Let's find out.

How do you know what you're feeling? Do you notice the embodiment, or the existential sense of the emotions more? (I'm curious how weird I am in that. Ha.)


AuthorJamie Bonilla