learning to deserve release

what do I want to tell you this morning (this barely-still-morning morning)? The ache has lodged itself in my muscles at the center of my body, that I am learning about the physicality of unrootedness, that I’m not at all sure that I’m ready to write about this yet.

I woke up today thinking about what it means to have to (get to) be so tender and slow with this body that I have driven hard for all these years. What does it mean that in October I had to spend so much time and energy thinking about my breasts (with the mammogram, then biposy), and now here I am tendering to my butt (where the still-left spasms have lodged, where the soreness still lives). All on the right side of my body. One website tells me that the right side of the body is the feminine side, the yin side. Another site explains that the right side of the body expresses our masculine side, and our material/money/job concerns. My body just tells me that the right side is the one that hurts most right now, and it’s ok now to listen to those hurts and attend to their backstories.

I want to tell you about having to be present with these parts of my body that hold so much old trauma, the places under my clothes where my stepfather’s hands first landed. But mostly these days I am not writing. I am feeling, and I am listening to my body. I go very slowly. I read books, watch silly tv and decent movies, I talk and cry with a few beloveds, I miss other friends, I prepare for the already-scheduled workshops — and in-between, I listen to my body. I go to the chiropractor, take massage, take baths, perform Anne Lamott’s prone yoga. I cry and cry and then spend time with a few people who help me laugh.

My life has become very slow and open, slower than I believed it could be, more open than I believed I deserved. I get expanses of time to focus on books. I get to stretch and watch the morning lakeside light fill my living room. I get to observe the puppy in all of her sleepy contortions. I make easy food (pinto beans, sweet potato-oat bread, popcorn). I get to just be. And I get to be ok in this be-ing. I get to be ok even though I’m not racing around, endlessly busy, calendar packed to the gills with more than can be accomplished in a day; even though I’m not out flyering/advertising/announcing/generally making a spectacle of how busy (and therefore Very Important and worthy) I am.

Why more than I deserved? You may not feel this way — but I have been the survivor that didn’t deserve to be ok. If I was going to be someone who got out, I better be worth saving, better cycle my energies back into helping other people. It wouldn’t be enough if I just (just) had a happy life. With so many other people hurting in the world, how selfish to make wide space for, to focus time and attentions on, one’s own joy and deep presence.

Thus the still-aching in my shoulders, even though it’s been weeks since I hunched regularly over the computer or carried an overly-heavy shoulderbag while walking to the office. This is muscle memory. This is my body trying to protect itself. This is something inside that is afraid to release — oh dear god, what will happen to us if we are unprotected, if we relax, if we are collapsed? My masseuse/new friend says, pushing her strong hands into a place at my hips, “Just let these muscles collapse.” And then, after a moment, “Yes, good. Do you feel that?” I tell her I don’t — I am accustomed to the tight, not the release. She says, “We’ll keep working with this, so that you can feel it when you let go.” As she continues to work on my knots and tightnesses, I repeat this mantra: It’s ok to let go now. It’s ok to let go. thank you for your protection, body. It’s ok to let go now. It’s ok to let go. I say it under my breath, just mouthing the words into the open space under the massage table, trying to feel what it is to deserve to be free in my body.

I am both aching to write and mostly restricting the words that emerge to my notebook, to a journaling that will placehold for the full layers, complications, stories and interpretations that want to be written about these five weeks of new embodiment. The folks in one of my workshops remind me that it’s ok not to document a traumatic experience while we’re undergoing it — it’s ok to just be present, to trust that the words will come when we’re ready. I listen to them, feel the tears just under my eyelids, remind myself I’m ok even if I’m not writing. Even then, I deserve to be.

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I want to think more about this idea of deserving. Let this be a prompt for today– what do you, or your character, believe you do or do not deserve. This could be a good one for a list. Make a horizontal line down the middle of your page. At the top of one side, write¬† (choose the pronoun that works best for you) “She/he/ze deserves…” and at the top of the other side, write “she/he/ze doesn’t deserve…” Notice what comes up for you as you create these lists. Choose one item from each list and write about those things, or what it means to deserve, or not to deserve, and maybe where those ideas come from. Follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thank you for the way you continue to open to deserving more joy, wellness, self-care and healing. Thank you for your spaciousness with others as they learn to deserve. Thank you for all of your words.

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