One of my main self-care ‘musts’ is to have regular body work done. I learned a long time ago that I’m hard on my body, asking it to do a lot for me in my day-to-day, AND I was pretty hard on my body when I was younger, resulting in several injuries that have left their marks on my body’s ability to do what I ask of it. So for years now I’ve made sure to get regular chiropractic care and soft tissue work like massage and myofascial release. Physically, these treatments help address any pain or mobility issues that might arise… only recently did I realize how they also help me emotionally, allowing my body to feel cared for and tended to in a way that is important to my inner child.
Well, six months ago, I fell out of routine in terms of caring for my body in this way, and I can feel the toll it’s taken. Looking back, it was no one’s fault (not even my own, which is important for me to acknowledge as I have a tendency toward self-blame and shame)… just a confluence of unfortunate events like my massage therapist breaking her arm and various members of my family catching both covid AND influenza within a 3-week time period–all of which left me starting the summer feeling particularly depleted and not my usual self (post-covid brain fog and fatigue are NO JOKE). THEN I proceeded to attempt all my usual summer practices, including two normally restorative travels: my annual family vacation to the Utah mountains and a week-long mother’s retreat (this year in northern California). In order to do so, however, I had to pay close attention to how my body was holding up, moment by moment, and be willing to shift anything necessary (expectation, plan, etc) based on how I was feeling at the time.
As a result, my summer has felt a bit like an interesting experiment, observing what it feels like living life at a slower pace while returning to familiar experiences as this current version of myself. Approaching this process with curiosity and openness to the feelings it brings up, holding space for what is, letting go of what could/might have been. It hasn’t been easy. It’s brought up so many emotions: gratitude and joy, yes… but also grief, loneliness, heartbreak, regret, and longing. Sooooo much longing. It’s required me to reevaluate my priorities, and get creative with how, when, and on what I use my energy.
But when I was finally able to return to the massage table last week–noting how I had to actively relax, letting my energy be shifted by the massage therapist so that my muscles would release the tension–I realized the biggest lesson this summer has brought me is how to RECEIVE. I mean actively receive. The concept of receiving sounds passive, but to truly let myself receive has been a conscious action all summer. It’s something that often comes naturally while I am in retreat, but feels rather uncomfortable in most other situations. Of course, part of this is because my younger self learned to survive by being useful, helpful, always giving (a concept reinforced to me when I took on the role of ‘mother’ as well), and caring for others has been a source of joy for me for most of my life. But this summer I didn’t have a choice… survival for me has literally meant not giving of myself, because I simply didn’t have any energy left to give. It meant seeing a need and not being the one to jump up and meet it. It meant feeling a need and actively choosing to voice it, to request from others what I needed (and, perhaps more importantly, actively choosing to ignore the accompaniment of inner judgment that often popped up in my head).
So this summer has been an experiment in active receiving… it’s required me to push myself just outside my comfort zone, into the edge of growth. It was uncomfortable… but I did it. There’s still a lot of emotions that come up, but it’s getting easier (most days, at least). Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever stop being so tired, but I choose not to spend too much energy worrying about the future. I’d rather use it to garden or crochet instead!
And now I ask you… how do you let yourself receive? Do you notice resistance to receiving? What does it feel like to receive, and to resist receiving?