Lessons from My Body

My relationship with my body has not been an easy one. I feel like I have always been fighting with its pains and desires and fatigue and shortcomings and general scariness. In the last two years in particular I’ve fought quite a bit with food (he’s not always the nicest chap, you know) and have struggled athletically. I am steadily learning and improving over time, though it often feels like I am getting nowhere.

Today I reflected on this situation. First I expressed my fear, and then I let my body have its say on the matter. Boy oh boy, did my body give me the smackdown.

So, yes, I basically am talking to/within myself here. No, I do not have schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder and I did not put my brain in a glass jar to write this.

I know the body and the mind are not separate: maybe you could say that I wrote the first section from one perspective (the everyday-scaredy cat one?) and the other from the perspective of my body. Or maybe you could pretend that this is like Guilty Conscience by Eminem, though he and Dr. Dre might not fit these roles too well.

The first section isn’t all that juicy and it didn't go over all of my concerns, though it can demonstrate to you that I’m in somewhat of a tough situation physically, emotionally, and ideologically/morally (perhaps you can relate). The second section has most, if not all of the good stuff. Be on the lookout there. J

I did edit this somewhat to make it easier to read, though I maintained some of the disorganization. However, it’s really not that bad: you should be fine.

I also want to point out that I didn’t go into this intending to account for every nuance and logical hole: I just wrote it in a way that would make enough sense to me intuitively. Plus, listening to my body means that I can’t be stuck in my head too much—ya know? I did the same when I wrote A Brief Declaration of Consciousness, though that wasn’t quite about my body. The point: it’s probably not worth getting your panties in a knot about something that is seemingly offensive and/or without scientific backing.

I’m not asserting that transcending the body should be a goal of humanity. Here, I simply mean refer to a person who can seemingly pay little attention to his body yet he remains in good health.

If this is a tad too long for you, the basic point is stop hating your body. You can go outside now.

As for the rest of you, shut up and listen (well, open your eyeballs and read).


Part 1: Scaredy Cat

I’m scared. I feel like I’m all out of whack. I don’t know what I want. I crave food a lot of the time, but I don’t want to get big. I feel like nothing really nourishes me.

I’ve been in pain for a long time and that makes me sad. I want to do a lot of fun things like run and swim and lift weights and ride bikes but I’m so scared of hurting myself. I know I can have so much more fun than I do but I’m just afraid. I’ve hurt myself so many times and I don’t want to again. The more I hurt myself, the less I can do, so it seems like I shouldn’t do much in the first place. But when I don’t run I’m dizzy.

Lately I’ve had all these pains in my head and behind my eyes. Sometimes I wonder if they come from eating animal products, but that’s saddening because those products are marketed as being well-raised and healthy. But now I don’t know if they are.

It’s hard for me to reject animal products entirely. I don’t really want to identify with vegans. I feel like they make a lot of stupid choices, like soy and wheat and corn. I feel like there are some things they are blind to. There are a lot of nuances in eating animals and I feel like they reject all of them unfairly.

But at the same time, I just get bad feelings in me sometimes when I eat animals. Eating butter doesn’t usually feel too bad but I worry that I’m numbing myself emotionally. But what if the emotional sensitivity that results from being vegan is an indicator of a body out-of-whack?

I don’t know. I’m so scared to do anything. Please help me. I feel like I can’t even listen to myself. I have no idea what this body wants or needs. I don’t know what the sources of its pain are. Obviously it’s fear, but could we be more specific?

I really don’t want to take supplements, but does my body need them?

I don’t know man. Just tell me what you need. Please. It doesn’t make sense to attempt transcending you if you’re so fucked up.



Part 2: My Body

Hey. My bones seem a little weak these days. A little squirmy is the word I want to use. I’ll tell you that eating butter isn’t really helping them. A little bit of meat here and there might, but not butter.

Butter is pretty tasty, I’ll give you that. But I’m not so sure that it actually helps you to eat less, if that’s your goal. I’m not sure that it’s the noblest goal to have, Kim—at least, not at this point. If you’re constantly trying to deprive your body, well, what do you expect? It’s better to make peace with the fact of needing to eat. Obviously you are not ready to transcend eating if it gives you so much anxiety. You have to make peace with it first.

I know countless other people have fared at least alright on diets far less complex and nutritious than yours (or at least, so it seems), but they probably didn’t bear the same attitude towards food that you do. They probably loved food when they got to have it. You always dread it yet crave it simultaneously, and this is a difficult place to be in.

I want you to know that you can successfully be vegan if you want to. I think you’ll find a lot of sweet potatoes, blueberries, and tomatoes to be in your favor—trust me.

I know you’re worried about plants that grow in nutrient-deprived soil. Indeed, this is a current reality of ours, but keep in mind that even pastured animals feed from this very soil. There probably are only few farms where you might find cows that are in fairly good health, though even that might not be much better than the health you are in now.

I don’t want you to say that animal-eaters are bad. People are confused about what is best for them to eat and they don’t know where to turn. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be frozen. You can experiment, and you can see how you feel.

I know you also are worried about the long-term deprivations of being a vegan, such as calcium, iron, and B12. And, again, I know you don’t want to take these in the form of supplements. Logically it seems it would make sense that if our foods are deprived of these nutrients that we should supplement. But I have a feeling that, if the Earth is deprived of these minerals, then we shall be as well. I must say it doesn’t make sense to me how the Earth is deprived of these things if they keep making supplements out of them… Something fishy might be going on here.

Trust me when I say you won’t miss butter too much. You’ve only been eating it for a month anyway. Obviously it hasn’t been, physically, the most star-studded month of your life, though that may be an unfair way of coming to conclusions objectively.

Anyway, do remember that you don’t have to view your body only objectively. In fact, to reduce me to an object is also not fair. Perhaps I am not your true identity, but I am a reflection of your consciousness, and for that reason you cannot, at present, do without me.

Keep in mind that healing always comes from within. This doesn’t mean that you heal me with your thoughts per se, but rather that the things you need to heal come to you only once you are [holistically] ready for them. This really isn’t so esoteric of a thought, just as most of yours aren’t: where do food choices come from, anyway?

The body getting stronger is a reflection of the mind getting stronger. The hurts of the body fading is a sign of the “bugs” in the mind and spirit being corrected. You can listen to information “out there” as you please—there is nothing inherently wrong with it.

I know, right now I crave a bit of milk. That is interesting to me, though I suspect if I drank cow’s milk I would be at least mildly repulsed. Perhaps it would do for me to drink some rice or almond milk? We’ll see.

I know you are concerned about excessively depending on almonds and not getting enough of a “return” from them. Remember that there are other foods for you to eat.

I know you also would prefer not to eat so many foods from other countries, and that it seems easier to eat foods grown locally if you rely more so on animal than plant products. Logically and objectively I know this is hard to accept, but I want you to know that the Earth is okay with this. The Earth would like for its creatures to find a better way, and if this is a step in the process then so be it.

Remember that not all lifestyle-aspects and changes and whatnot need be permanent. Surely, for instance, you do not plan to be on the Appalachian Trail forever, and you will not act like that is the case. This does not give you permission to be reckless—in fact, by some mechanism it prompts you to act more consciously. Surely one change after another is more of a growth-challenge to contend with than is finding one way to be for all time.

I know you’ve suspected that butter has been leaving you “backed up.” It is not the only factor in this, but it is a minor one. I know you’re concerned that my disenchantment with butter (edit: I know, the butter-talk is a little excessive) is the result of having eaten it plentifully yesterday. That’s just another high-headed, logically-based concern of yours—no need to entertain it too far.

I also know you are burdened by the feeling of having to buy food constantly. You feel enslaved every time you walk out of the store and look at the receipt. I apologize to you for this. I can assure you that you don’t always have to feel this way.

I know you are very worried about me right now. I know you think that there are so many things wrong with me and you just can’t figure them out. I won’t tell you that I’m fine per se, but I can take care of myself.

You’ve already fixed so many of the things wrong with me by changing your diet—please do not discount that. I promise you that rejecting processed food has absolutely not degraded me. I suffered quite a bit under that regime. I know that you, on the contrary, try to discount your anorexia as a factor in my difficulties. I know it was a brief bout [of illness], but, as you have acknowledged, the psychological effects stuck around for quite some time, though they are fading steadily.

I ask that you please do not try to “hack” me so that you can go about your day feeling as though you have done a good enough job of not consuming too many resources. Again, we can get there, but there are more careful ways of doing so than trying to take shortcuts.

Anyway, I would like to tell you that there is still a little bit of that anorexia left to heal, as we have made quite clear throughout this dialogue with your worrying and shortcutting and depriving and whatnot. But I would like you to know that I forgive you for this bout.

I know it was strange to you that you were so thin even though you still ate what seemed a decent amount of food. I will tell you that, of course, the mind played a much larger role in this than you might think. Anorexia isn’t a simple lack of food—it is an all-around bad relationship to food, to the body, and to self. “Anorexia” is really quite an arbitrary term, though I know you have already been suspicious of this in other mental illnesses. They are simply a way that humans (at least, Westerners) attempt to categorize fear-based phenomena. It is an attempt to comfort themselves in the face of self-destruction, but these terms may or may not be helpful. However, I feel no need to criticize them to excess now.

Anywho, I’ll tell you that damn, do I love me some vegetables. They feel quite nourishing. You can try sea vegetables sometimes if you’d like to, but honestly I can do quite alright without them.

I know you’re uncertain of whether you should avoid salt as much as possible or embrace it. If it tastes good to me it probably isn’t such a bad thing.

Believe me when I say I can handle myself—really I just need you to let me to. I’m not stupid, you know. Most of the things that go wrong with me come from “up above”—corporate, if you will. Nah, I’m just messin’ with ya a little bit, but my ability to experience fear is really quite limited. Most of that comes from the rest of me, which is you (I know, I know—“me,” “we,” “you,” “I,” are pretty arbitrary here, but they’re used with good intent).

This is not to blame you for my shortcomings: instead, I wish to assure you that, again, I can handle myself. Just let me do what I gotta do and I’ll be fine.

A lot of you humans have gotten this idea in your head that the body is some wild savage that needs to be suppressed or, for god’s sake, it will eat and kill everything and fuck everyone (and then lie around and do nothing!). Who knows—sometimes it may indeed do that.

But when you try to twist my being, what do you expect to squeak out every now and then (really, all the time) but a twisted form of me? When I- not just the body, but the whole self- takes to behaviors you perceive as damnable, such as killing, don’t be surprised. When all you do is abuse yourselves, how can you expect that you will not abuse others?

You think the body is not logical, but I think I have already demonstrated more rationality than you here (also, stop worrying about how our conversation will look to an audience—just relax, man). I do not mean to make you feel badly about yourself, once again, but you do need to see the error of your ways. Otherwise, how will you change those ways?

If someone’s twisted-ness comes out in such a way that is criminal, you people proceed to lock him up and suppress him even more. You expect him to be a good boy thereafter, but honestly, what the hell do you think happens? He gets worse. There is close to no way to heal in a jail cell.

I know what you’re thinking—that a person does not have to subject himself to external circumstances. But many people are not aware enough to realize that (as I have expressed to you already) when your awareness is at a certain point there are only certain things which you are capable of.

Just as you, Kim, are not currently in a place to be healthfully depriving yourself of food, the prisoner is not in a place to grow while behind bars. That is reserved mostly for the rare Malcolm X who is met with a spark at seemingly just the right time. This is not to say that the changes in him can be accounted for purely by chance—it isn’t really my place to say. The point I make is that this does not happen often.

The man who seems to have transcended his body peacefully has indeed done so peacefully. The violent rejection of me is, as you could expect, by no means peaceful.

Kim, if you want to go what is to you “hog wild” eating at some meals, then just do it. I know you are worried about draining yourself of money, but believe me—you’ll be in a far better place to receive money if you are at greater peace with yourself. Surely you can work with a clearer mind when you are not fighting your body.

I know that lately I have not seemed all too inclined toward exercise. I know you have had thoughts that you need to start over your relationship with me from scratch, and this is basically correct.

However, as I said earlier, give yourself from credit for the progress you have already made. With your diet you are already in a fantastic place—trust me.

If you want to know a little secret, you ran faster three years ago on a bad diet than you do now because you were not quite as hateful toward yourself about eating. I know this is logically very hard to accept.

This does not at all justify eating badly. I know it also does not make sense because you did some other very bad things to me at that time, by hurting me outright (edit: I used to cut myself).

I will tell you that I have degraded somewhat over time because (1) I am trying very hard to get you to listen to me, and (2) by not listening you twist me further. So it’s a brutish positive feedback loop, which we can indeed get out of.

Again, this is not to say that my decline was not inevitable three years ago, when you were a far more prominent athlete. This is not to say that you were doing things perfectly right then. You remember all the pain races left you with. I simply suggest that you pay some mind to time.

I know you would like me to fill in the last hole of the explanation, but do you really need it? I know, you think I’m holding out on you now. I know you want to know how you went from being bad to good and then bad again even though you treated me poorly the whole time. But you know that you did worse on days that you hurt (cut) me.

Perhaps your “worse” then was far better than your “normal” now, but what of it? You are far more mature now than you were then. Stop thinking that you were some saintly god-given athlete who has now been stripped of her powers.

You are far more capable now than you have ever been. Why would you want to be the way you used to? Why would you want to return to the cesspool of holistic self-hatred you had pushed yourself in? Maybe you hate yourself less now, but that is because you are more aware, and if you are more aware then surely you are ready to handle my message. If you are not ready, sure you can handle me upping the ante until you finally listen, as you seem to be doing now.

See? Is this really so bad? Do not be angry at me for your suffering, for you only brought that upon yourself. Do not shame your past, nor glorify it. There is no need for either.

You have grown, and that is what matters. You are ready to listen now, and that is what matters.

I am glad that you have finally sat down to hear this, rather than mindlessly go about your day and fight with me as usual. I know, you think that you are aware and mindful, but believe me—there is plenty of progress to be made.

Again, this is not to shame where you are now. Not at all. But don’t get so self-righteous. You have a lot to learn, just like you are learning right now.

Just because you perceive that you are “farther along” or “more aware” than someone else doesn’t mean that you are, nor does that give you permission to see them as inferior. You have just as much work to do as the next guy, and fighting about who’s better than who only makes more work to be done.

If you really want to make the distinction, for those who are less aware you are responsible for protection, nurturing, and teaching. This is not to say that you must ride through the world on a high horse as a white knight, saving all the dumb damsels in distress. No—they do not want this from you.

Much of the time it will be more effective for you to help indirectly, such as by writing like this. Other people do not need you there holding their hand or whispering to them life’s secrets. They are highly capable of figuring out what they need to on their own. Trust me—they can handle themselves.

Absolutely do not view anyone as inferiors, unless you have agreed that such a relationship will be beneficial to both of you. Even then, remember that these are roles you have chosen.

I know, I know—this point is hard for you to comprehend. It seems there are many nuances to it. Surely people like to be around each other. But it seems best to take the attitude that you do not need anything from other people, just as they do not need anything from you.

When you help, help only out of love. This entails that you do not help out of some desire to inflate your ego.

I know, you are worried that there are people who indeed need help, and it would defy love to not help them. But the only people who can be “helped,” if you want to use that word, are those who want to be. If someone does not want help there is no need to provide help to them. Whatever may happen to them objectively, they will be fine.

I know you are thinking of the time when you thought you didn’t want help, but later realized you did (and others perceived you needed it). Well, you are still here—yes (edit: yes, this is about depression/desiring death)?

I know, you are concerned about my apparent lack of complete arguments. But I don’t think you need for me to give you those. I know you know that life takes care of the half of life it needs to—the rest is on us.

It’s fine. You’re fine. I’m not telling you there’s no need to grow, but if you don’t believe that I, the body, am okay as I am, then you never will grow. You don’t have to strike some balance between challenging yourself and seeing that you’re okay. Seeing that you’re okay is what allows you to challenge yourself appropriately. If you think you’re not okay, then you will only put yourself up to challenges which you either will be hopeless to achieve or which would not do much to help you in the first place.

Don’t put bad chemicals in or on me anymore, please. I don’t need them. The world can do away with them. Trust me. Don’t get rid of antibiotics and antibacterial products, but for god’s sake don’t use so many of them.

You people think I am so weak… Where on Earth did you get this idea? It must have been from your weak minds. I am stronger than you can imagine. If I am weak, that is only because you have bought into the idea of my weakness for so long. Let me be strong, and you shall find your needs well-met.

Make way for me, mind—you will have to let me take some reign briefly. But once I have untwisted and satisfied myself thus, we then can start working together—and together, we will be unstoppable. Don’t fear my power: I guarantee you, it will fill you with joy. It will fill us with joy, because, remember, we are the same. We simply need to stop thinking otherwise.

Please trust me when I say you don’t need to do all the things to me that you do. I think you will find that when you allow me to thrive, my beauty radiates. There will no longer be even a desire (at least for some people) to dampen that beauty with crumbled rocks (edit: yes, this is about cosmetics, particularly makeup). Love me, and you will find that you are able to love me even more.

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