On Friday I met with my therapist and it could not have come at a better time. The days since surgery have been rough. There are bright spots but it has been the most challenging 9 days out of my entire 38 years on Earth. Nothing is familiar; every sound your body makes seems new, every sensation of pain is different, and every signal is new. Not only are you trying to physically recover but you are also trying to understand and respond to your needs without your trusty instruction manual. You are terrified you will make a mistake and mess something up, or worse, puke your guts out. And, to ice the shit storm your life has become, everything you used to do to find comfort and solace in times of need and despair is not available to you. You can’t eat, you can’t be physical, you have no energy. Making a phone call and speaking is exhausting. You just to have to sit there with your garbage patch of emotions and try to wait it out. It really makes you second guess your decision to have bariatric surgery. I have lost 25 pounds and 11 inches since my VSG. My mom said my feet look “pretty”. I have to wear my Apple Watch on a smaller size. Like I said…there are some bright spots. But really body…my FEET? This is where you want to start my beautiful butterfly transformation? MY FUCKING FEET? Unbelievable.
Never once in my life have I “thought” about my body. I know it is there…it does things to keep my person alive…it gets me places and it responds to my brains commands. When it is physically hurting I address the pain and move on until something else presents itself. My body is a tool that my brain uses to get shit done. Period. I have never found my body anything other than a tool and our societal fixation on bodies, especially women’s bodies, is vexing. I am more than a body and when you focus on my body you are disregarding my mind and THAT I have worked very hard to curate. Apparently, this is not the way it should be. When the mind and the body are out of sync or not communicating, the whole system breaks down. Chaos ensues. Things don’t work right. Feelings get hurt. The body reacts out of spite and ruins your night out with your girlfriends. BITCH, I NEEDED THIS NIGHT OUT! I do not say any of this as an expert, I am regurgitating the whoo-whoo Wendy passed on at our session. I have been told that my brain is in a very unhealthy relationship with my body. My brain has been ignoring the emotional needs of my body and my body is very hurt and sad because not only have I been neglecting it for…well…its entire existence, but I have now ripped apart of it out like an Ancient Mayan reaching for the beating heart of human sacrifice. Apparently, I did not ask my body permission to remove a piece of it and that is also a no-no. WHOO WHOO. How do I know this? Well…my whoo-whoo therapist apparently is a body whisper/snatcher who discovered my mind-body disconnection with a few questions.
Now…the look on my face when she was explaining this mind-body issue must have been priceless because she kept laughing and telling me we could make memes of my facial expressions and retire billionaires. I am not a whoo-whooy person. I am a very much “to see is to understand” person. So when she was telling me that I had emotionally neglected and hurt my body I had a hard time keeping it together. This is some shit right here…lady…my body has no emotions…my emotions are in my brain…my brain runs this shit show ok? But she asked me to “amuse her” and to sit in silence with my brain and my body and ask some questions. I don’t remember the exact questions she was asking but it kept going back to “Why do you feel that way” and “What does your stomach say about that?”. Have you ever tried to imagine your stomach as a person and then interpret what your stomach person is thinking or feeling? I have not. That shit is weird. But here is what I could do and how I could answer her questions.
Years ago in a yoga class, I learned a powerful thing. It was a hot Hatha class. Everyone was sweating and pissed and exhausted. Everyone wanted out of that room. The teacher was guiding us through an asana and most people let out an audible sound that was the universal sound of discomfort. This audible sound is a no-no; the goal in yoga is to move through the sequence in silence minus your controlled and rhythmic breathing. Being the excellent teacher that she was, she instructed us all to focus our minds on the exact spot of discomfort. Were our muscles writhing in pain? Were our joints at the verge of cracking? Were our lungs about to explode? Wherever the pain or discomfort was, we were to send our brain there. We were asked to focus on that area, imagine that place in our mind’s eye, and send our refreshing breath to it. We were asked to speak to that spot and let it know that this moment was temporary, that we were growing and learning. We were to send that spot confidence, cool air, power, and patience. By sending our thoughts and energy there, our brains were proving the support our bodies needed in a time of crisis. Our brains job in that moment was to help our bodies get through that moment. So I did. And to my amazement, it worked. I was able to hold the pose for the duration and release with confidence. That was a serious mind-blowing experience. What the fuck was that? What just happened? After this experience, there were many more. In a Yoga Nidra class, I was asked to do a “body scan”- literally thinking about each part of your body and then relaxing that specific part. This repeated through your entire body until you were a mushy piece of super relaxed goo on your yoga mat. It was AMAZING. Apparently, the brain and the body can hook up every now and then for some pretty awesome experiences. So…I guess I did understand that the mind and the body could communicate…they could team-up successfully. But outside of yoga, my brain forgot all about that magical connection and continued to rule my body as a total and complete tyrant. Opps. Sorry ’bout that.
So when I explained to her my yoga abilities, she affirmed that what I was doing in yoga was what I needed to do all the time. I needed to send my brain to my body and check in with it, to ask it what it needed, and thank it for the work it has been doing tirelessly for 38 years. And she suggested I start at the place of most pain and neglect- my stomach. So…this morning I intended to do just that…communicate with my stomach today. Because I am only 9 days out of surgery, I am still taking Gas-X to get out all of the gas they put into me for the procedure. So I took that pill. Then I took my first vitamin of the day. Then I drank some water. Then I drank some protein shake. Then I drank some stool softner because I had not pooped in 5 days. Then I doubled over in pain. Face-winching pain. My stomach was PISSED. It hurt SO bad. I could feel my temperature rising like it was all going to come back up. I braced myself against the kitchen counter and asked my stomach what it needed and why it was so pissed off. It told me to do one fucking thing at a time. To slow my fucking roll and space everything out. “Ok- no problem,” I said. “I am new to this…” I said. “I’m sorry,” I said. It took a few minutes but it calmed down and got real quiet. I went and sat in a recliner and just took some deep breaths. I asked it what it needed me to do today to make it not so angry. It said it needed water and clear protein. It also said it needed rest. So that is exactly what I did today. Every time I was hungry I asked it what it needed and I followed its instructions. Today I have been able to drinker larger gulps of water and I have gotten in 60 grams of protein. I also took a poop that might end up in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Wendy told me that if I am to be successful long term, I needed to make my body an equal partner with my brain. This will be a monumental undertaking because my brain has been running this show for 38 years. Maybe I am fat because I have not let my body have a say in the nutrition it receives. Maybe I am fat because I have neglected the emotions that live in my body. Maybe I am fat because of a gene mutation. Maybe I am fat because I am addicted to food. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. The scientific side of me says you need an experiement…isolate the variables…work a hypothesis…single-issue analysis. But my rational brain tells me I am out of time for such a thorough investigation, but it is impressed at the scientific prowess of my big, beautiful brain. My addiction brain has been suspiciously quiet since the surgery. Maybe the anesthesia hit it the hardest. Regardless, now is the time to let my rational brain take charge and lead us out of this period misery by trying new things and working new angles…even if those angles are total whoo-whoo.