I wrote this whole long post yesterday, and when I was almost done, Firefox crashed and I lost the whole thing. The nerve! Anyway, on to the actual topic of today’s symposium.
I’ve never gotten along well with my body. I’ve never felt like it belonged to me.
I’ve generally considered myself a pretty healthy person, but the other day, my nurse pointed out to me that I’ve had all kinds of physical problems.
I had chronic middle ear infections as a child, and the first time my eardrums ruptured, I was 3 days old. I had 5 ear surgeries before kindergarten, and in one of those surgeries the doctors realized my adenoids were gangrenous from repeated infections and removed them. I’m now hard of hearing, and my left eardrum has a permanent hole from a karate accident. (Never fight a guy twice your size who doesn’t pull his hits while point sparring. Just don’t.) I was a competitive gymnast in elementary and middle school, and I did a lot of damage to my joints because I had no concept of either the future or taking it easy. My senior year of high school, what started as bad vertigo progressed into passing out and seizures where I’d stop breathing. At 17, I was finally given a diagnosis: a very large arteriovenous malformation in the left frontal lobe of my brain. Five days after my 18th birthday, I had gamma knife brain surgery to correct it. I have several sleep disorders (central sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorder, and alpha-delta disorder). I have severe lower back pain from a bone spur that’s the result of an untreated stress fracture, as well as congenital hypermobility syndrome. And just recently, I was diagnosed with MTHFR polymorphism.
It’s really fun trying to fill out medical history forms.
It isn’t just physical problems that make me feel disconnected from my body, though. It’s also the trauma.
I don’t remember when I realized it wasn’t normal to check out and leave your body when things got bad. I don’t ever remember a time that I didn’t do that. I still do it a lot more than I’d like to–something stressful or scary happens, and suddenly I’m not there. My body’s abandoned, and I’m gone. Or somebody else takes over and runs my body for me. Sometimes it’s a few minutes until I come back to my body; sometimes it’s weeks.
I’m trying to learn to treat my body better. It’s difficult, though, because so many people have treated my body as though it deserves no respect. And I learned from them. I starved myself, cut myself, binged and purged. For the most part, I’ve been able to get a handle on those destructive behaviors, but the temptation is still there. It’s just another way to take myself out of a body that doesn’t feel like it’s mine.