At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
I just had an amazing experience with my body. I don't think I've ever experienced something quite like it before. I've come close, but not like this. I went for a run. I really didn't want to run, but I made myself go. It's cold today, but at least it's sunny. And I was feeling really, really depressed. It was that stupid kind of depression – over literally nothing, but a quicksand of despair. I remember the book I had to read while I was in counseling said that for many people, depression feels like drowning. Well today, I didn't necessarily feel like I was drowning, but it did feel like at any moment the waters could close up over my head. I was working at the Athenaeum and on the subway ride home, I had to put all of my focus into not letting the waters close over my head. That's when I decided I needed to go for a run. I know I'm PMSing right now, and every medical person has always told me that exercise is really good for severe PMS, but I've never taken it seriously. That's not a statement on how lightly I take my PMS, but rather how severely I hate exercise. But nonetheless, I decided to run. Lately, I haven't been listening to anything while I run. Initially it was because I just got lazy after I finished The Magician King, but I've started really liking it. I can hear and feel my body so much better when I'm not thinking about whatever I'm listening to. It's only because I've been running since Christmas that this can work, though. Until recently, I needed distraction from my body in order to run, but now, something is changing. I have got to be one of the worst runners ever, mostly due to my horrible lungs. But also due to my horrible inability to put my mind over my physical desires. I simply stop running whenever it's too uncomfortable. But I've been trying really hard to use my mind to overcome my discomfort and push myself. It's been slowly working a little bit, but something really different happened today. First, my knee was feeling weird, but I stopped and tested it and stretched it and everything seemed ok, so I made myself keep going. It was fine. Then, on the last half of my run, my usual mental/lung shut down started happening, but something inside of me just said, "No. Do this. Do this now." It all sounds so silly and dramatic, but this is a really really big deal for me. I kept going. And then I kept going some more. And while I ran, it was like I could feel this divide between my brain and my body closing. It felt like something inside of me that had been unzipped was now zipping up. My brain spoke to my body and told it that it it wasn't the enemy, but it still needed to get in line. My body and brain needed to get in step and so they did. Now I'm really going to sound crazy, but this was such a big deal that I actually started crying while on my run. I have never been that aware of my mind's ability to put my body in it's place – not as mind against body, but as mind taking its rightful place within the body.
As a woman, my body has so often been my enemy. I don't know why or where it comes from, but I have learned to view my body as my enemy, as my limitation. I don't think men feel this way, but I know many women who do. The moment blood starts coming out of a part of your body that you never really gave all that much thought to, betrayal takes place. Pain becomes a reality that your mind can't overcome and every single month you are reminded that there is disunity within your very physical existence. For me, it takes on the added element of psychological disunity. My PMS is so bad that it has put me on antidepressants, sent me to counseling, and overwhelmed every person I've lived with as an adult. Yesterday, Trey and I got into a massive fight. The fight was no one's fault, but my acting like a teenager was a reminder that at the height of my PMS, I can't even deal with reality accurately. As I told Trey, it is the scariest thing to know that once a month things will happen physiologically that will impact my brain that I will have absolutely no control over. And that will never change.
But today my mind was able to overcome while I ran, and that was a big deal. As a woman, I may have learned from a young age that my body is my enemy. But that doesn't mean peace can't be made with it.
(Image by Pablo Picaso, "Nude in An Armchair.")
About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.