The wisest woman I've ever met asked me...
"When are you going to start honoring this body that has carried you through all the hell you've been through? WHEN?!" That hit me hard. That's the success I work toward now. Success, I now understand, is not quite what I thought it was. Once I lost my physical health, my idea of success changed. I wanted to do whatever it took to get my body and health back. My Chronic Pain Doctor (who diagnosed my CPTSD) also does talk therapy with me, and over time was able to explain what I really needed to work on to heal. When my body gave out, and I couldn't keep myself on the hamster wheel all the time anymore, all I wanted was to get "healthy" so I could get back on it asap! Then the doctor explained that what I needed to do to heal wasn't to try harder, push my body harder but rather that I needed to do the opposite, and give myself and my attention to honouring my body's needs for slowing down. Well, I really didn't have much choice in it, with chronic fatigue and chronic pain I couldn't do anything much anyways.
Then, in the slowing down, she teased through the threads of my story and many of the things she mentioned, I didn't really know how to do because they had always gotten tossed aside and labelled as "things I don't have time for" (actually it was more like, "I don't have time for that shit!") My excuse was that this stuff was lame and wouldn't make a difference, or it wasn't part of my personality. She explained that a fair amount of my personality had been shaped by the trauma I had experienced. That these were healthy practices that healthy people were capable of, and that the hamster wheel was no marker for health, because it was partly to blame, it was a coping mechanism. And just because "everyone else" was also on the hamster wheel, didn't mean it was healthy. But when layered with underlying trauma in the body, and in the nervous system, that it was too much for the body to be able to handle at once, especially over time.
Priestess of Fierce Freedom © 2017 Gem Artemist
So my definition of success changed over time and it has become far more clear to me than it ever was. Success for me now is health, so now I work on my health in an anti-hamsterian way, or well, that's the goal anyways.
The success I work towards now, is:
-developing an ability to connect with other people,
-accepting myself as a worthy person,
-breathing more deeply
-FEELing my feelings, whatever they are & not shutting them off,
-breathing more slowly
-working on pleasing me sometimes, not only others
-accepting it's ok to say "No" and doing so when my boundaries are crossed regardless of how it's going to make someone else feel,
-knowing where my boundaries are and communicating that
-RESPECTING my body's limitations, which sometimes means protecting me from my own bright ideas ("No pushing" is one of my mantras)
-feeling into my body, sinking into it, and staying there, then breathing some more
-remembering to take care of my body & to nurture and feed myself good food
-being able to listen in & discern what my heart says about something (vs. my mind)
-embracing my eccentricities
-enjoying what my body has to offer instead of punishing her or using her,
-accepting that I can be worthy even with my challenges and limitations
-moving my body gently, and with softness, to avoid muscles freezing
-slowing down & not run myself ragged trying to do it all (No pushing)
-nurturing my spirit with healing rituals
-gentle yoga daily to keep my body from stiffening
-taking moments to engage all my senses to ground myself into the present moment -replacing hyper-vigilance with relaxation/presence consciously at least once a day
-committing to my creative pursuits & allowing them to be seen
-letting go of perfectionism, of facades
-allowing myself to be seen, all of me, and trying to find the freedom in this
-allowing myself to have dreams still, & believing my dreams really are possible
-not beating myself up if I get off track, just noticing, and taking stock of what needs to change so I can meet my own needs
Honouring the body that never left me, even when I abandoned her because I couldn't cope with what she carried inside her. I won't lie, those are all tough ones & working on these mountains is my daily work. Hard work because it means being real with people about some difficult truths. But I'm on my way, at least now I know which way I'm going & I have the support & guidance I need to stay on track & do the work. Everyday I'm grateful for this! Because I really never thought I'd make it this far, yet here I am.
I bless this day and all who live it in small ways I am growing wise in quiet ways I am learning now in openness my spirit grows strong in sharing, my life makes sense
~ Abby Willowroot © 2008