The body keeps the score. It’s a truth in itself, and it’s also the title of an excellent therapeutic book by Bessel Van der Kolk.
Because the body really does hold, cumulatively, the sum of our experiences. I’m currently talking about this as an ongoing practice, a thing to be aware of always, what is your body trying to communicate to you. So in particular I look now (that the longer term work on early trauma for me is predominantly done) at more recent happenings, what you’ve just been through, and how your body absolutely will let you know what’s going on. Longer term yes indeed, the body holds and shows all our past traumas, abuses, struggles and hard times. But today I’m talking about how responsive I’ve become in knowing my body, and what’s happening therein. Mostly.
So I awoke today with a tummy ache, mild cramps, and the requirement to sit terribly boringly on the loo. Unfortunately being diabetic and on various medications, this is not terribly unusual, so I wasn’t particularly disturbed and just went about my day (zoom tutorial, client, etc).
Then it came near to time for my ‘Wild Write Wednesdays’ writers group. However, shortly beforehand the cramps had increased hugely, and my goodness I felt awful. Sure enough, at the time I should have been signing into the group, I found myself instead moaning unpleasantly and decidedly stuck on the loo.
Being as usual in my head I was mildly irritated at the inconvenience of my bodily timing, not wanting to be late or appear rude with lateness, and musing why I’d avoided eating all day instinctively (though also jolly glad of it).
One of the wonderful things about this writing group is that we actually take time to check in with our body, to feel into it, see what it’s telling us, or calling our attention to. We take time to stretch, curl up, walk around, shake off, or whatever we feel it needs; before we even begin to write. Eva (who holds the group) began her usual invitational to do so… and the words ‘feel into your body’ simply reminded me to drop out of ‘head’ and into ‘body’ and take a good look at what was going on.
It was SO CLEAR, so ludicrously simple, that I felt a bit silly really for being so in head that I’d not recognised it sooner. So grateful for that writing space for this, and so much more.
The past few days, few weeks really, have held an added stressor for me. A trans masc leather community I’d mostly enjoyed for over a year, throughout the pandemic, had become problematic.
Apparently even trans men aren’t allergic or immune to toxic masculinity… and that had become quite saddening for me, being in a zoom space and feeling once again silenced by that. I’m not exactly a fly on the wall myself, anyone who knows me knows I’m not backwards in coming forwards. However bigger, brasher, louder voices simply took over, taking up all the space (#because that’s what ‘real men’ do, right? Ugh.) and there was no longer any room in the space for any other voices to be heard. Quite the contrary, I and many others were dismissed, ignored, spoken over etc. It felt just like the experience of being (perceived as) a woman in a man’s space all over again, having to fight to be heard, listened to, rather than being dismissed, talked over, ridiculed and ignored. It was making me really sad.
Then this past week or so a new topic had come up, around non-binary folk. The ‘key players’ in the group, despite paying lip service to supporting non-binary folk, were actually getting more and more ‘biological determinism’, basically using the same scripts as trans-exclusionary folk, that fundamentally for them what mattered was what was in their pants, or what they were assigned at birth i.e. how they were socialised. I was gutted. Disappointed, profoundly, that in a group of marginalised trans folk, who knew what it was like to have your gender dismissed, ridiculed and determined by others… were doing precisely the same thing to non-binary folk. Enforcing a binary concept onto them, just as has been done to us for so long.
It was a horrible experience. The group owner, together with one AFAB non-binary person, basically buckled down hard, insisting their point of view was correct, and at first merely ignoring the few of us who were trying hard to address this, then arguing, and eventually simply dismissing and stating their biological essentialism as simple fact, rather than allowing any space for nuance.
During this process I watched as it become a genuinely bullying culture. I had private messages from people thanking us for speaking up, because they dare not. I had one even message that they’d been ‘trying to find a way to leave’ …which says more than anyone needs to know enough about the culture within the group itself.
I was gutted. I left, resigned formally from my leadership team role of the group (which was in fact itself a mythical farce, as only particular voices were ever acknowledge), and so I quit the group.
So as of yesterday, it was all over. Bar the inevitable laughter and bitching behind our backs (others left too due to this stuff, and the behaviour of the actual group heads itself towards us), which will doubtless continue… but I’m out, can’t see it any longer, and certainly don’t need to know, or waste my energy thinking further about it. It’s firmly and unequivocally behind me. I’m only saddened for those left behind in an echo chamber that leaves no room for growth or nuance.
So of COURSE today was all about my body evacuating, dumping all the shit (quite literally) and letting go of all the unpleasantness that it had been uncomfortably, tensely, swallowing and holding tightly for many days.
Yes indeed, the body keeps the score, and sometimes it lets us know in no uncertain terms, what exactly it needs. Give it love, be compassionate with your body. It loves you, and it’s trying to tell you something.
I needed to let it all go. As the cool kids say “bye felicia”.
Guess what? Tummy pains are all gone, because I listened to my body… and I let it all go. 😊