body depression

Learning the Language of My Body Without Using Google Translate

by Cecilia Calado
Cecilia Calado

A few years ago, I realized that my body talked to me. Not as simple chitchat, nor prolific or intellectual discourse; rather, it was a very simple way of sending me messages, like Morse code. Actually, my body has been talking to me forever, the problem was I didn’t speak its language.

I am grateful for being quite healthy. I can’t complain since almost all of my bruises were earned like gold medals while practicing some kind of sport.

It took me several years and a few bouts of depression to realize that thoughts could be converted into feelings, those feelings into emotions, and sometimes those emotions into pain.

Hidden emotions, I mean, the kind that we are not even aware of.

I have to dig deep into my unconscious self to find the root.

Once I started to realize this and how it works, it became more and more evident that my body talked. It had its own language, obviously. At first, I couldn’t make out any words. Then, little by little, it became apparent that the messages were quite straightforward. And I finally met myself.

Once I was at my friends’ house for lunch. The paella was delicious, the wine and dessert were all very good, but something was off. I wasn’t comfortable at all. At the time, I was coming out of a depression and honestly, I didn’t feel welcome. Throughout the entire lunch I kept thinking “Why did they invite me?” They kept speaking in a language that I could more or less understand but could barely speak and acted like I didn’t exist. They laughed at jokes I only got 5 minutes later, and they weren’t interested in what I had to say. I felt completely out of place, and obviously, I couldn’t digest it. Well, just before leaving I had a bathroom emergency. My stomach and intestines had gone on strike.

Whenever I fall into what we could call ‘stinking thinking’ my body instantly turns anything in my stomach into soup.

Sometimes it’s sparked by something that isn’t dramatic at all, like when I spill coffee all over the table because I’m nervous, or when I’m nervous trying not to be nervous. Or when I stub my toe on a door only a few seconds after I’ve just said ‘yes’ when in fact I wanted to say ‘no’. Blame it all on me! It’s almost as if the door wants to punish me as much as I do.

A few days ago, I was talking to my sister about how my friend had deceived me, after all that I had done for him. The list of my good deeds unfolded right in front of me like a Wikipedia page on the lives of saints. Well, I didn’t even make it to the end of the page, when a huge pain in my knee forced me to stop walking.

The fact is, my knee was just yelling at me.

The discomfort was activated by what in Yoga is called the ‘Negative Mind’. I was falling into a whirlwind of emotions: rage, revenge and hate. Looking back, I can see that I was acting childish and playing the victim. Had I taken full emotional responsibility for my deeds and actions, I wouldn’t have been waiting for someone to thank me for acting like Mother Teresa. Because when we give, we should do it from the heart without expecting anything in return.

The pain started to fade away once I acknowledged that if I let other people walk all over me, it’s likely that someone will do just that. It is not the other person I need to forgive, it’s me.

I have to say that the pain in my knee kept showing up once in a while, curiously whenever I thought about my friend with some underlying anger. Now that time has passed, and I don’t feel that strongly about him anymore, my knee seems to have calmed down.

Learning the language of my body is a work in progress.

It’s an ongoing practice like Pilates, if I really want to improve. So far, I’ve learned that being responsible for ourselves implies accepting the ‘other’, or accepting that the ‘other’ doesn’t really exist, it is only a by-product of our own unique perspective of the world. Were my friends at the paella lunch being rude? Well, maybe, but I had many options: either leave, or stay and ask them if we could all speak the same language, for instance. And as for friend X, every time I had helped him, was he really in need, did he even ask me to? Nope! I have to confess that in order to feel loved or accepted, it was me throwing on Superman’s cape, often giving others priority over myself.

Having said that, I don’t want to trivialize pain or disease, not at all. Nor is it our ‘fault’ we become ill, that wouldn’t even cross my mind. But I would like to invite you to reflect. Whenever you feel something in your body, from a sneeze to an itch, why not stop for a second and check in with what you were feeling about a given situation just a few moments before? Maybe your pain comes from a completely unknown reason, from genetics or some physiological dysfunction, but… who knows? Sometimes it can be that you’ve just met someone who is a pain in the ass!

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