With my new life, my new growth, my new me I was able to embrace the world around me. I think back often to the day I stepped out of the other worlds that were in my head. I felt I had awakened. I had. I left my room and noticed my children had all grown three or four inches. When did they get so tall? How long was I away? I walked down stairs seeing sunlight for the first time. I saw my plants. They were all dried and dead. When did I ignore my plants? I never ignore my plants. How long was I gone that they would die in my absence?
This is exactly how my new life felt. I heard a dog…just heard a dog and nothing more. No trauma. No startled reaction. No war. I breathed deep the clean air. The war was truly over. I could see, hear, and feel everything around me as if for the first time.
My mind was clearing up. My heart and chest were free of burden. It was time to turn to my next phase. Healing the physical.
Remember what I said. “Be honest with yourself.” By the gods, this was so hard.
“I hate my body. I want to rip my breasts off my chest. There are days…ever since I was fifteen…I’ve felt this thing on my skin. It makes me just want to scrub my skin off. I wrap myself in layers of clothes and blankets, and curl up in the corner. There, I wait for it to pass. Some times it lasts for days. I feel like I’m standing naked before everyone. I just hate it and I don’t know what it is.”
“That is shame. The shame of your predators on your skin. You’re bearing their shame for them. Put it where it belongs. Back on them.” This was the advice of a dear friend of mine.
“That is a form of self-mutilation. No different than a cutter feels. Tell me, how do you feel about your body?”
“I hate it!” I screamed this. “It’s because of its weakness that I hurt at all. It’s because it was beautiful that it was pursued and beaten and raped. It was because it was weak that I couldn’t stop it. I loathe my body! Detest it. I want nothing to do with it!”
“Your body was a victim. It was hurt right along with you.”
I burst into tears.
“Your body was just as hurt, just as abused, just as traumatized…and you punish it for the pain others caused your mind and your body.”
I had. I did. And all at once, I understood.
The ballet, the swords…nothing shred apart the body more than ballet. Oh, I danced. Did I dance. I danced to punish my body. I danced to make it stronger. I dance to rip it apart. “You’re weak!” I often thought. “Kick higher! Stretch farther! It hurts? Too bad! You’re weak! Kick higher! Stretch farther! It hurts? Good! Now higher!”
I turned my attention to my body and, for once, I listened. Since I was born I had suffered multiple rapes, torture, a dislocated thumb, sprained ankles, a broken femur, sciatic nerve and piriformis syndrome. I fell down the stairs crushing my tailbone, smashed my finger, and broken my toes multiple times. I ripped out my own hangnails, dug out my own toes…denied myself medicine, doctors, and hospitals. “Endure it! I screamed at my body.” I never once went to a doctor.
This September, I picked up the phone. I finally called my doctor. I haven’t had a papsmear in ten years. I was placed in physical therapy for my hip. I retired from ballet. I still remember the day I looked at my husband and said, “I want to do something for my body. I want to give it a present. I want…I want to be nice to it like…I want to make up for what I did to it.”
I started becoming aware of the physical. When you are dissociated and steeped in trauma, all senses are dulled and muted. It’s almost impossible to hear what your body says. You aren’t in the right state of mind to even hear its cries let alone address the problems. So the problem persists, and your health is what suffers the most.
I took my body to the doctors. I listened to it. Began cleaning up my feet, soaking my callouses, and painting my nails. I picked up Yoga. Stared physical therapy and started looking into diets. Oh. Did this change my life.
During physical therapy, my therapist—who was also a nutritionist, fitness coach, and dietician—explained the sugar diet and how it replaces, discourages, significantly reduces your body’s ability to produce serotonin. Serotonin is the happy hormone. It is also found in sugar. Patients diagnosed with depression, bipolar, and problems with mood, are notorious in having a lack of Serotonin or an inability to produce Serotonin. In fact, most mood stabilizers have serotonin in it and/or are designed to work with the little bit of serotonin your body produces. We crave serotonin. We seek it. We need it. And where do you find it the most if your body doesn’t produce it? Candy! Carbs. Soda. Candy! Candy is highly addictive. More so than heroine and cocaine. If you had a choice between shoving a needle in your arm or eating a sweet for an instant high, which would you try and which would you most likely repeat?
You eat sugar, you get that high, you crash. You drink more soda, eat more candy, get that high, and crash. You eat more candy, eat a candy bar, drink a soda, and do everything you can to sustain that high. It’s fast. It’s convenient. It’s instant gratification. It tastes great! You crave it. Need it. Want it. Suddenly you’re dependent and you don’t even know it.
Now…inside, your body is getting what it needs from the outside—candy—which encourages it to not produce serotonin. With a constant sugar intake, your body stops producing serotonin. Depression increases. You gain weight. You crave carbs and more sugar. Your body is now completely dependent upon the sugar. What’s worse, many of us can’t even identify sugars in most foods.
My therapist recommend a book to me—this book—and I read it. One thought came to mind. If I stop providing my body with sugar, naturally, my body will begin to produce the serotonin? You mean…I can end my depression? Stop taking medication? I can be happy naturally?
I think back to when I started eating candy. I was fifteen. Right after my first rape. I started stopping in at the candy store. Every Thursday, I would walk into the penny candy store with $10.00. I then would walk out with 1,000 pieces of candy…and it would be gone by next Thursday. A year later, my doctor diagnosed me with chronic depression.
Severe stress and trauma significantly reduce and/or halt serotonin production. Depression is the result. That craving kicks in and we supplement, we medicate with candy. The trauma, stress goes untreated…unaddressed. Depression continues and/or worsens. You know what else has sugar in it? Alcohol.
One thought came to mind. If I stop providing my body with sugar, naturally, my body will begin to produce the serotonin. If I stop eating all sugar, I can get my serotonin back. I could actually come off my meds. I decided right then to do the one thing the book told me not to do. I went cold turkey.
You want to talk about the addictive qualities in sugar!? I entered detox. For four days, I suffered from nausea, cold like symptoms, shakes, migraines, mood swings, aggression, sweats, chills, pain, loss of appetite.
On day one, I laid in bed, unable to move. I literally felt my body throw its tantrum. Oh, I fed it. And it snubbed its nose at the eggs and chicken I fed it. It detested the black coffee and oatmeal with blueberries. I shoved it down anyway, but it wouldn’t process the protein. It was only interested in sugar.
On day two, I felt my body switch on. It started using the protein. It was still unhappy, pouting…It was slow to start, but it was starting the switch.
On day three, the withdrawal symptoms subsided. I picked up a coffee and tasted it…oh gods did I taste it! I tried chicken and could taste the subtle flavors missed all this time. I ate a whole lemon like an orange. I had no idea how sweet they were. I suddenly could taste the sweet in red pepper. The earthy tone in a mushroom. I dropped ten pounds, literally within ten days! My mind cleared. I could focus. I had energy. The transformation was and is still astounding! I could taste the citrus notes in celery. I now eat mussels, clams, and hummus. OMG, do I love hummus.
“Don’t think of exercise as a work out or exercise. Think of it as “me time.”
And it is! I look forward to it! Yoga. Mediation. Tai Chi twice a week. A new sugar reduced diet. Next, my thoughts turned to sleep.