Meeting my body

One thing I read about over and over again is that getting to grips with your body is one of the main ways to start recovering from trauma. You know when something is said so many times that you kinda stop hearing it?

It’s true though. I can do many things I was unable to do before but my biggest problems arise from being touched, after all this time. It goes from one extreme to another. Either I don’t feel anything, or normal body heat burns me like a cattle branding rod. If I’m in the space where I feel nothing, I can find myself from the ceiling, looking down at myself and seeing what’s happening. There I stay, high up, unreachable, until it’s safe to come down.

Neither of those is good. Both are shit. Try to pretend you’re enjoying yourself when in actuality you feel like a fish finger forgotten in the freezer or that you’re being scorched alive. You shouldn’t pretend, but you can’t admit to how you feel. Or more like, how you don’t feel, because you can’t handle the disappointment, hurt or judgement from the other person. It doesn’t matter if their reaction tells more about them than about you, at that moment you would give anything to be normal. So eventually, you stop. It’s just not worth the hassle.

I know I need to get back on speaking terms with my body. My relationship has been made more difficult by the fact that my meds have made me gain six stones. I don’t recognise myself in the mirror anymore. Now I’m coming off of those meds (gradually and under medical supervision, I might add). My body is, again, going through drastic changes. We are on a constant journey, my body and I.

I try to be kind to myself. My body has endured a lot, and still it’s here. I’m alive.

I watch a documentary on Holocaust survivors. One lady tells the camera that she never forbids herself of anything. If she wants something, she buys it. Shopping is her way of making herself feel good. She hates being cold, so most of her clothes are warm winter clothes. Whenever she feels like it, she indulges herself, to contrast the time of unimaginable suffering.

I can relate to her in many ways. I indulge myself a lot. Not with clothes, but I buy things too. Usually books. I don’t really question my fancies. If I feel cold, I turn on the heating. Even though it’s not very environmentally friendly, I refuse to put on a sweater. The house where I experienced horror in was damp and freezing. I used to sit inside layers and layers of clothes, plus hot water bottles and socks you filled with oat bags you put in the microwave. All of this at the same time. I was desperately cold nevertheless.

Now I absolutely refuse to be cold in my home. People often point out how warm it is. I don’t mind being cold outside the house, but inside the house needs to be warm and dry at all times. I will get up in the middle of the night to turn the heating on if necessary.

I’ve realised I need to make myself feel good within myself before I can trust anyone else to do it for me. Part of my panic is the loss of control, so I enjoy sensations I can control. I walk barefoot inside the house, just to feel the carpet beneath my feet. I use body scrubs and essential oils, wash my hair several times in a row. I sit for hours by a tiger enclosure in the zoo and look in awe when the strong paws make confident, graceful strides past me without making a sound. I say hi to a dog wagging its tail at me. I stretch. I touch fabrics, hold stones smoothed by waves in my hand, smell spices and perfumes, sprinkle coffee powder as I vacuum so the entire flat smells enchantingly.

I make close friends with my vibrator. Without guilt, without concern.

I deserve to feel good.

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