My body and I have been getting to know each other these past few years. Turns out there were quite a few things I didn’t know about this constant companion of mine. For starters, I used to think it was just a container for everything else about me—my thoughts-feelings-spirit-impulses-tendencies-longings-and sense of humor.
It never crossed my mind that this human shell of mine could impact any of those things.
Then one day Miss Sarah, my therapist, sat with me as I talked about a vicious knot of stress/fear that had taken up residence in my stomach. I told her it was wrapping itself all the way around my core—from my belly button to my back. It was pulling me in toward myself. Folding me over. Turning me inside out. It hurt.
She listened, as she does, and she asked me if there was anything my body might feel like doing in response to this knot.
I was annoyed. Seriously. Just tell me the answer.
But she waited. And waited. Finally, after a lonnnnnng, awkward pause, I took my hand and held it to my stomach. I kept it there.
It was a start.
Over time, I began to learn that simply moving my hand to the place of pain—even when that pain was emotional—simply putting the warmth of my own skin to my tangled stomach or aching heart or pounding thoughts, the simple act of providing a gentle, soothing touch, like a mother’s hand, could actually begin to unknot something. And, at the very least, it could leave me feeling not so…alone.
This past month or two, I have been thrown into another season of change and transition. The vicious knot has been paying visits. My stomach sometimes caves in on itself.
But now I know something important.
I know I was not created to live at the mercy of a knot, as a powerless victim. I know that human touch was intended to bring comfort—and it does not always need to be someone else’s touch. I know my Creator gifted me with the beautiful, incredible ability to support my own self.
When I soothe my body, I can soothe my feelings. And when I offer myself a caring, compassionate touch, I can feel cared for compassionately.
These are truths I wish I would have known when I was younger, but I know them now and I can pass them on to my own two teens.
Because knowing how to handle a vicious knot? Matters.
Julie Rybarczyk is a freelance writer, sometimes designer, single mom and longtime friend of Truessence. She spends her days living the both/and—the bitter/the sweet, the pretty/the pretty ugly, the ordinary/the holy heck—and writing about it at her blog, shorts and longs. P.S. It’s pronounced re-bar-chek.
Just one more thing! This TED Talk by Amy Cuddy takes this concept in a slightly different but still-so-amazing direction. You might enjoy!