An experiential excerpt from co-founder Melanie Weinberger
Our bodies and emotions speak to us. When an emotion spikes, picture it like a wave of water flooding an underground tunnel system. That tunnel system being your body. The waves thrash and crash, and come with a message. They are asking you for something, telling you something. They need your attention. When they don’t get listened to, you can imagine that water building pressure inside, or you can imagine it stagnating and starting to rot. There is immediate, building, impact on your body. Because your emotions are a product of your body, this whole system works together to either allow flow, or stagnate and build up.
The consequences of unreleased, unheard emotion, will eventually be some kind of release, whether you create it, or your body does it for you. Could be in the form of a tension headache, a crying outburst, a stomach ache.
The experience I share below reminds us to be wise to this.
My body sure is.
It’s been a busy few months for me. Building out nuanced financial projections for our company, recruiting key hires for the team, deepening my relationship with my new husband, moving into a new house, throwing a big Halloween party, gearing up for Mindlight’s first party two weeks later. Keeping up with friends and gatherings I’ve been invited to.
So “go and do” oriented.
During this time, my body was talking to me telling me it needed a break, but I wouldn’t fully hear it, because I wanted to keep producing. Get it all done, actually – achieve, show up, and produce.
I experienced burnout in July and cried for a week. I got the flu in September for two weeks with a fever and chills.
Each time I recovered, I jumped back in with equal commitment to achieve and get things done.
About 5 days ago, I was happily jaunting through the aisles of a home improvement store when I suddenly noticed a strain in my hip. I told myself it wasn’t that big of a deal, surely it was just something a little out of alignment, and I could get it back in place.
With my own blessing, I then attended two parties later that same evening. At the first, I was cautious with my steps. At the second, a dance party broke out, and I took it as an opportunity to really show my hip who’s boss, and deeply stretch it and play with it until it regained alignment.
“Pop,” went my internal hip muscle.
I went too hard.
I got the message again, though. “Slow down.”
And I did, because I couldn’t walk. My body invited me in to what it really needed.
I stayed in the next 48 hours, asking my neighbor for support with groceries, offering my dog a new exploration of our backyard while I couldn’t walk her. I took baths. I rested.
On the eve of day 3, post initial injury, I felt an urge in myself to go out to an event I was invited to. I imagined I was healed enough; rested enough. I had a story that “I ought to show up, because that’s how friendships are made. It’ll be good for me.”
To give it my best effort, I took a hot bath with Epsom salts (for extra healing) before leaving.
For some reason the heat from the bath was sooo much for me. I was getting lightheaded, but made myself push through. To heal faster.
Notice my pattern here to push through.
When I had soaked the 20 minutes required for salts to work, I stood up, and felt faint. Oh gosh, did I push too hard? I hobbled to my shower and put it on ice cold. It snapped me out of it a little, but I could feel the pull of weakness under my skin.
“What is going on?” I thought.
I got out and peered into the mirror. My face was beet red. Flush.
Then suddenly, pangs in my left quad. It tweaked as I walked. The other leg, opposite the hurting hip.
“What is happening?!” I started to get anxious. A lot of little things all at once, that I couldn’t explain.
This is a point where I imagine one would call a doctor. I could list off symptoms, get some tests run, find an issue in an organ or blood.
Instead, I got myself to the couch in my living room, sat down, and took a long moment to go within.
What is on my heart? What is it trying to tell me?
I listened. Listened a little longer. My husband, who was on text with me while this was happening, coached, “Go slooooowwww.”
After a long moment of deep listening, I heard it.
Can’t even believe I didn’t hear it before.
A part of me was SCREAMING. Screaming like a drill sergeant screams.
Loud, masculine, “PRODUCE! GET MOVING! HURRY UP! YOU HAVE TO SHOW UP! COMPLETE YOUR PROJECTS! MAKE MORE FRIENDS! GAIN VALIDATION!”
I was shocked. Taken a back.
Ah, that’s who’s running the show.
That’s what my body was asking me to look at and hear. That it was a harsh pattern I have, and a refusal to slow down and hear it. Epiphany.
I immediately began giving myself a session. Going deeply into the emotions of this pattern. My need for validation from others to feel worth something. Me seeing life interactions as an opportunity to be liked, and gain self image. A major survival strategy, survival emotions, underneath it, driving it. My skin bristled and burned as the energy began to release out of me. It took some grit to stay with the discomfort, call it forth, bring the intensity up and process it.
I pictured a whole room full of people telling me they didn’t care about my achievements, or how much I can do, or what I’ve done, or how much money I have, or how successful Mindlight is, or how many events I go to. They just liked me.
It burst me open – cracked light into the shadow. The unintegrated survival response I have been running for years and years.
When I came to a stopping place with the work, I listened in to my heart again.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“To explore who I really am,” it said.
And instead of going out that night, I stayed in. Contemplative, slow, meeting myself for the first time in a long time. Through all the fast lanes and changes and events, I had been skipping myself. My body screamed for my attention, and it got it.
And I’m so grateful I finally listened.
Who am I now? I’m excited to re-meet myself. Explore new wisdom, new likes and dislikes, new values, identities, realizations.
Tonight I’m taking another night in.