This year hasn't been very easy. There's been lots of goodness but for the most part, I haven't felt very good. In fact, I've felt like I was in a constant battle with my body as one thing after another went wrong.
Trying to "fix" it all and become well has become like a second job. I’ve made frequent trips to the doctor. Cut out sugar, gluten, dairy, and alcohol. Spent a small fortune on supplements. Worked with a nutritionist. Tried different forms of movement. Experimented with energy healing.
There have been some improvements but overall I still don’t feel well and so my instinct is to create another healing plan, try a new modality, whatever it takes so that I get better.
Recently I started working with a coach and in our first session together I got a big message from my body: this isn't about “fixing" anything; it's about honouring my own rhythms. There's nothing wrong with being in this down swing; in fact, it's perfectly natural. There's a quote that says:
"Nothing in nature blooms all year - don't expect yourself to.”
and that sums it up perfectly.
I’ve spent years pushing myself to be in my masculine/summer mode all of the time. That’s the energy of doing, achieving, pushing, striving, setting goals, making a plan, and basically hustling your butt off 24/7. It’s a very externally-focused energy and it’s really what our society expects from us all of the time.
Over the last time I’ve learned a lot that has made me realize that this is bullshit. After reading Lisa Lister’s book Code Red and beginning to chart and honour my monthly cycles I thought I was living in my body’s flow.
But even then was expecting my body, and specifically my energy levels, to behave a certain way. I was okay (ish) with slowing down for a couple of weeks a month. But weeks on end, indefinitely? That idea is incredibly uncomfortable. It shook my entire sense of self.
It makes sense though, after years of living almost exclusively from this masculine place that my body needs this extended winter and it's going to last as long as it lasts.
We live in a society that worships at the altar of productivity. We identify ourselves and each other by what we do and achieve. We struggle to appreciate what we have or how far we’ve come because we never slow down to savour and appreciate. We’re always on to the next thing. I’d very much become a slave to goals and to-do lists and I thought that by doing all of these things, I was going to feel happy and fulfilled.
Of course that’s utter bullshit. If we can’t feel how we want to feel now, there’s no reason to imagine that those desired states are going to materialize in the future. In fact the constant pushing and striving had gotten me so out of alignment that I suddenly realized I was chasing someone else’s goals and not my own (again).
But even as I made this space for uncertainty and reflection and processing, I was still putting this internal pressure on myself to do more. Within my healing journey I wanted to have a plan and action steps and a sense of forward momentum.
It’s made me realize how much snobbery I'd been holding for what could be medicine for my mind, body, and spirit. I was still in that phase of thinking it was all about the herbal teas and green juice and yoga and my body was screaming at me: "No! Netflix can be medicine too! Trust the medicine!"
It is so hard to accept that the many duvet days and The Good Wife binges and weekends spent cocooned at home doing as little as possible are not just okay, but actually exactly what I need even though they’re the antithesis of the social, adventurous, novelty-ridden life that social media tells us we should be living.
I’m trying to cut out the judgment for this slow, quiet season of my life that I'm in and tune into what my body most craves for nourishment at this time. “Trust the medicine” is becoming my mantra and tuning into my body to ask her what she wants me to know and what she needs has become my daily practice.
There’s still the part of me that feels incredibly anxious without a plan but my coach has helped me to realize that I can honour her too, that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. So that part of me gets her routines and rituals because of course there is still work to do and bills to be paid and friendships to nurture.
But she doesn’t get to rule the show anymore as I learn to honour the rhythms of my body and embrace this extended period of winter that I need right now.