I apologized to my body the other day.
It was right after the holidays, and I was mad at it for being heavy and bloated and for not fitting into any of my clothes. I felt angry and betrayed and a little tired of this all-too-familiar situation. And then I came to my senses. Blaming my body for gaining weight after being fed a steady diet of Christmas cookies and alcohol for the last few weeks was like blaming my car for running out of gas. Over the years this body bore two healthy children, ran a half marathon, competed in a triathlon and a slew of other races, and has been free of major injury or illness, despite my penchant for Cheetos and twizzlers. I was the only one to blame for the shape my body was in. I have one body to take care of, and not only was I mistreating it with food, but now I was directing my misguided anger at it. And so I apologized. And my body responded……by getting sick.
To be fair, it waited until the most opportune time, if there is such a thing. It waited until my daughter was over the stomach bug and both kids were back at school. It even waited until my dog, who had been under the weather the previous day, was responding to his medications and feeling better. But at 5:30 Wednesday morning, I woke suddenly with the feeling that something wasn’t right. Had I heard a noise? Was the dog ok? Did I smell smoke? No, no, and no. Then what the…? OH!
I slept all day Wednesday (minus a trip to the bathroom every two hours). The worst of it was over by the time the kids got home from school and, since we had nothing to do that night, I just dozed on the couch until it was time for bed. Now I have a pretty good immune system, so I figured after a good night’s sleep I would be back to normal. On Thursday morning I got up, made the kids lunches, helped them get ready for school, and walked them to the bus. And I. Was. Exhausted.
By 8 am I was on the couch “for a rest” and woke up two hours later wondering what day it was and if anyone had gotten the license plate of the bus that hit me. For the rest of the day I was essentially useless. Any attempt to climb the stairs left me winded, and moving around made me dizzy. It was even hard to focus on reading. So I watched TV and dozed, reluctantly. I kept thinking of all the things that needed to get done around the house. And I felt guilty. Hopefully by Friday I would be better!
But something had changed. I wasn’t fighting it anymore. While I didn’t want to be on the couch one more day, I knew it was what my body needed to heal completely. So I surrendered and spent the morning catching up on emails and old magazines- necessary chores, but ones that were never high on my priority list. I figured if I was going to be stuck on the couch, I might as well get something done. And then I realized…..how often do we get to truly relax? If I was feeling better, I would be on the move- doing laundry, vacuuming, going to the gym, grocery shopping… I wouldn’t be spending the day on the couch under a comfy blanket, slowing down, reading that book that’s been gathering dust on my nightstand, and binge watching the show I’ve always wanted to watch.
So that’s what I did all afternoon. And I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Tomorrow would be filled with chores and basketball games and responsibilities but today was a day for resting. For taking care of me.
Unfortunately it took a stomach bug to force me to slow down, relax, and do some of the things on my “nice to do” list instead of my “have to do” list.
And so I thanked my body.