Usually I’m a yoga person. I love stretching my body and feeling myself fall into happy alignment. I get an annoyingly chipper post-yoga high. It usually involves skipping.
But lately, as I heal from the sexual abuse in my past, I’ve found myself less and less inclined to hit the mat. The days stretched into weeks and then into months. I am out of shape and stiff.
I’ve been feeling guilty for not paying as much attention to my body but I thought that the only solution was yoga.
Turns out, I needed to listen deeper than that.
My body and mind can’t handle yoga right now. Yes, it brings me into the present moment, but then I find myself sitting right in the midst of the trauma and the pain and panic floods my body as I remember…ow.
My body wants to move, but it doesn’t want to just sit with the pain. It is just too much. It’s not necessary for me to spend half an hour, or even 5 minutes, in such a painful place.
I need to move forward.
And then Jesse reminded me – walking.
I’ve walked to heal before.
After I left the guy who was abusing me, I started walking.
The walks started out short & manageable. I was still recovering from being incredibly ill at the time, and wasn’t up for much.
But as the days passed, I just kept on walking. Soon I would disappear for hours at a time. Sometimes I would wander far afield, but often times I would wander to 2 places.
The Church & the Tree
Just around the corner from my parents’ house was a church. In their parking lot, smack in the middle, they had 2 great big maple trees growing. They’d built a bench around them.
Day after day, I would walk to this tree and I would just sit and watch the world go by. Sometimes I’d talk to the tree. I’d ask it questions. I’d ask it why things happened, why I was sick, why I was alone, why I hurt so much inside.
Asking the questions was comforting. I didn’t know how to talk about these things to the people in my life. I was full of shame. The tree could never judge me. It only listened.
I would sit and watch the butterflies as summer deepened. I watched the red-tailed hawks come through, slowly spinning in their thermals.
I sat and I watched.
And then I would walk.
The problem with suburbs built around cars is that everything seems so close in a vehicle and yet it’s so damned far on foot.
This park was a 3 minute drive and a 30 minute walk. It didn’t matter.
It was hidden away, narrow but deep with a small stream going through it and dozens of trees. It was dark and shady with patches of bright sunlight. Willow trees and bulrushes lined the stream.
It was heavenly. My own little piece of paradise.
Someone had strung up a makeshift swing on one of the trees. I used to sit there and write and swing for hours. No one else came to this park. I think people often forgot it was there.
I would sometimes take the long route to get there, walking until my muscles burned and twitched. I wanted to push my body. I wanted to forget.
Dreaming up a new future
It was during these walks that I planned my future.
It was striding along familiar and unknown neighbourhoods that I made the choices that led me here today.
I decided that I didn’t want to see anymore doctors and I wanted no more “miracle cures”. I decided that I wanted to share my story and put my trials to good use. I decided that art was my calling and I was going to dedicate my life to it.
I decided that even if I was horribly unloveable because of the chronic illnesses, and no one would ever want to put up with me, I was going to have a damned awesome life anyways – I had friends, family, pets and my art. I was going to be as happy as I possibly could be.
It was on those walks that I declared my life my own – not that of my doctors, my parents, my ex-boyfriend’s or future boyfriends’.
I was going to live life on my terms. I was going to do things my way.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I couldn’t see the impact those choices would make on my life. I had to fight for my new beliefs. People thought I was either crazy or stupid. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Walking my way back to my body
So now, as I revisit and heal the traumas from that time, I come back to walking once again.
As my feet tread the pavement, and my eyes breathe in the world around me, I’m creating a new future for myself. I’m walking away from the abuse and towards healing. I’m literally moving my body forward, one step at a time.
I am creating healing, peace and acknowledgement. I am hearing my pain, holding it close and letting it go with every step.
And then one day, I will stop walking. I will be able to re-enter my body and find only peace, calm and stillness there.
I will be able to come home.
I would really appreciate it if you didn’t leave any advice. This is my own healing process and I’m finding my own way. Everyone heals differently. However, I’d love to hear your own tales of coming back to yourself and how you’ve created new futures for yourself and for your body. And I always accept hugs and nods of understanding.