The Body Talks

Loving Smackdowns from the Universe, Part 2

I have always felt invincible health-wise. Never suffered with illness, never broken a bone, never had any chronic conditions. Until recently.

It didn’t all happen at once, but very gradually. Over the course of six years I slid from being (what I thought was) a fit, productive, healthy human into feeling like a half-functioning zombie.

It started with weight gain. 20 extra pounds, seemingly out of nowhere. I hadn’t changed up my food or exercise routine, yet it came on quickly and wouldn’t budge.

Then a rash on my hands. Patches of eczema that I assumed were from giving massages all day and washing my hands more than the average human.

Then menstrual cramps. Some days so bad I couldn’t stand up. Sometimes making me miss work. Sometimes causing me to pass out from the pain.

Then mood disorders. Feeling hopeless, helpless, useless. Wondering what the point of it all is. Avoiding friends. Panic attacks. Feeling like everything I cared about could be lost in a moment.

Then exhaustion. Sleeping 10, 11, 12 hours a night and still struggling to get out of bed in the mornings. An ever-present sensation that I had invisible cement blocks tied to my arms and legs. Barely enough energy to go to work, and that was it.

I ignored each new symptom for a while. When they got so prevalent I couldn’t ignore them, I used punishment to try and cure myself. Harder workouts, tighter diet, rigorous schedule, negative self-talk. I resisted calling a doctor because a) I don’t have a whole lot of trust in them, b) I didn’t want to be labeled with a diagnosis, c) I wanted to believe I could fix myself on my own. Ha.

Finally one day, I waved my white flag. I was doubled over on the floor in pain, waiting for the four ibuprofen I had just taken to kick in, praying they would do so before I had to be at work.

At that pathetic moment, I decided I couldn’t live like that anymore and some medical help might be useful. I agreed to see a doctor, but stipulated it would have to be someone who truly listened to me and who wasn’t looking to mask any symptoms without finding the root cause of them. Enter, Functional Medicine. Functional medicine practitioners are different in that they really work to get the whole picture of a person’s health before diagnosing and prescribing. (You can find one for yourself in this directory.)

I was willing to travel to the next state to find this type of care and I’m glad I did. My first appointment was lengthy. My new doctor asked lots of questions and listened intently to my answers. Then she sent me away for lab work, testing not just a few things, but EVERYTHING.

A while later, the diagnoses landed. Hard. 

Adrenal fatigue. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Endometriosis. Disthymic Disorder. Anxiety. …All autoimmune disorders stemming from PTSD. 

What? PTSD? Me? I’ve never been to war. I’ve never been in a bad accident. What PTSD?

Well the causes of my PTSD could be multiple other blog posts, but in summary, it came from growing up with an abusive parent, as well as trauma surrounding my love life later on. Not to mention self-abuse in the form of eating disorders, exercise as punishment, and too little sleep. My nervous system was on high alert and had been for years. It couldn’t keep up with me anymore.

A few months later, I am feeling much better. I am on an intense (and expensive) vitamin/supplement regime. Meditating and working with a counselor. Easing very slowly back into working out after taking some time off to do yoga and walks only. Also joined the gluten-free club. 🤓 I am not on any medications at this point, although I wouldn’t be opposed to them anymore if I ever needed them. I trust my new doctor, because everything she has suggested has helped thus far. 

Over the past several years, as I felt my health and vigor declining, I had many moments of anger at my own body. It felt so unfair, like I was being betrayed by her. I had all these grand plans for life and it felt like she didn’t want me to enjoy anything. Then one day, my beautiful, intuitive doctor said something profound. “Honey, you are so in touch with your body. If you hadn’t felt so crappy and called me, then 5 or 10 years from now, you would have been coming in with something much worse. Lupus, MS, cancer, I don’t know for sure, but it would have been bad.”

Wow. This whole time, I was trying to be tough and muscle through, but my body was signaling me. She was talking to me. She tried to be gentle at first, but I wouldn’t listen so she did what she had to do to get my attention. She is on my team. And my sensitivity is a gift. All this pain, all the exhaustion… I was being led in a different direction. To rest, to go inward, to heal what had been broken years ago, to truly care for myself.

I can’t help but think that this is what is happening with our whole planet right now. I hope we can sit with the discomfort of not being busy. That we can go inward and reflect on what we need to heal in ourselves, in each other, and on Earth. My body asked me to  slow down a few months before everyone else did, so I feel like an old pro at the self-care thing right now. This is a gift.

I’ll close again with the loving-kindness meditation, which has become my mantra these past few days:

May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering. 

Read Loving Smackdowns from the Universe, Part 1 HERE 

Loving After Heartbreak

Loving Smackdowns from the Universe, Part 1

I live with a man now. A kind, hard-working, smart, hilarious dreamer. Is it a coincidence that I pretty much stopped blogging as soon as we got serious? Absolutely not. I wish I could say that is because we have been too busy having hot sex and saving the world together. (Although there has been a lot of the first and we’re truly working on the second.) But that’s not why I stopped writing. 

I stopped writing because he shook. my. world. 

See, I was GOOD you guys. I was so, so good. Livin’ the single gal’s dream. Picked up the pieces after my divorce. Picked up more pieces after dating and sex and various short-term post-divorce relationships didn’t go so well. 🥴

I was working out daily, journaling, blogging, socializing, leading workshops, getting my finances in order, traveling, running my little business, learning to love myself, and was just — GOOD.

Until.

A perfectly imperfect man showed up to love me UP CLOSE. He was ready to go all in. It was confusing and terrifying. If you’ve ever had to start over in a relationship after getting your heart broken mashed shattered puree’d wrecked, you feel hard what I’m about to describe. Because I wasn’t actually GOOD. 

As soon as I thought about dipping my toe in the River of Starting to Love Again, everything from my past I’d worked so hard to bury came screaming back to the surface. Insecurity, lies, memories, manipulation, guilt, shame, hurt — ohhhhh the hurt. There it all was, not just for me to face but for another person to witness up close and personal. 

Um. Fuck.

The collage of fear going through my brain at that time is hard to put into words, but I’ll give it a try. Imagine a non-stop loop of the following:

“He is amazing but it’s too good to be true.”

“There has got to be a lie here somewhere.”

“I don’t know how to do this the right way.”

“I just realized I have no idea how to communicate my feelings.”

“I know. I’ll get some Mace.” (I actually did, btw.)

I was sitting on pins and needles waiting not just for him to hurt me, but for me to hurt him. I trusted no one, not even myself. And I tried everything to get him to break. I gave him the silent treatment. I acted disinterested. I sat him down and told him every horrible thing I’d ever done. 

A man less persistent would have left early on. I’m glad he didn’t. He was patient and kind. Let me cry. Let me rage. Let me accuse him of things he didn’t do. Let me rip into him for tiny issues. Let me verbally process my past. Let me feel every damn emotion I had ever been ashamed of. It was messy. I was messy. It shook me to my core.

And it was medicine, pure medicine, to be witnessed 100% naked, for the first time ever. He saw all of me and didn’t want to change a thing.

Woah. Is this love? Yes, Sweetheart. This is Love.

“Why do you even want to be with me???” I would question. But the truth is, that is none of my business. He wants to be with me. He’s proved it over and over and over again. Who am I to ask why?

Now, I converse with so many people who have had their hearts broken and who have broken someone else’s heart (two sides of the same painful coin, I’ve learned). They are scared to move on. They are scared to lose control. They are scared to be seen. They are scared they won’t notice red flags. They are scared they will see red flags when there aren’t any. 

All I can say is I was scared too. And a lot of those things I was scared of happened. And because the things happened, I learned. I learned to trust again. I learned what “yes” and “no” feel like in my body. I learned that I can look into a lover’s eyes and see the truth. I learned that I am worthy. I learned that you can’t plan out your love life step by step. I learned that avoiding pain is missing out on pleasure too.

Now if you’re wondering how on earth I found a man like that, rest easy. I didn’t actually do anything to go find him. I mostly nerded out by myself reading personal development books and going to the gym. I was doing my thing, and when it was time for us to meet, we met.

So there you have it. It feels good to be putting this all out here on the blog. I haven’t written in a long time as a service to myself. I’ve been learning to love — not even again — Learning to love for the first time. Without fear, without justification, without conditions. And I just couldn’t write about it all “out loud.” Just like you don’t serve a cake that’s half-baked, I don’t like to put things out in the world while they’re still processing. Stuff that is unprocessed is very tender and it’s too easy for tender things to get broken again.

Thank you for being here. I look forward to writing more with this gift of time.

My prayer for all of the planet right now, borrowed from The Loving-Kindness Meditation:

May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.

Stay tuned for Bitch Slaps of Kindness, Part 2 😁

When You Can’t Let Go

It’s time to move forward. To leave a person, place, job, mindset, or habit behind. 

But that god damn fear.  It calls to you, saying, “Come on, try again. Maybe you didn’t do everything you could do to make it work. What if this is all there is? What if you’re giving up everything? What if, what if, what if…”

And it’s juuuuust convincing enough for you to turn back, even though this is the seven thousandth time you’ve had one foot out the door. So back you go to what you know. Back to the blah, or the abuse, or the exhaustion, or the neglect.

You know what’s not being heard though? The voice that says, “You are worthy of so much more than this.” Because if you don’t have any experience proving otherwise, it’s really really difficult to hear that voice.

I can tell you that the people, places, and other things I’ve dropped pale in comparison to the people, places, and things that have come my way since. But that’s like trying to describe snow to someone who has never seen it. You can hear about it and see it on postcards, but until you actually buy some snow boots and leave the tropics, you won’t have that experience yourself.

So Love, please, have the courage to let go. To 1) believe that there is something/someone better out there for you, and 2) to then make room for it. (Because, if your life is full of garbage, where are you gonna put the good stuff?)

Some of the new Amazingness will show up right away, and some will take months or years. But watch for it… And smile knowingly each and every time it arrives… And thank yourself for dropping what was too cumbersome to carry any longer. At that point, your hands will be empty and ready to receive all the magic that comes next. ❤️

 

Going through a difficult life transition? I’ve been there and would love to support you.

Here are some blog posts you may find useful:

Seriously, Tell Me to “Be Grateful” One More Time….

Divorce and Feeling Things (Also, I Cried During Wall Balls Once.)

Personal Development: If You Take This On, You’re A Freaking Hero

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For other offerings, including one-on-one sessions, e-mail info@kristenzook.com.