“What would help your body feel better right now?”
When I was young, a couple times a year I’d get a stomach bug and spend most of the night in the bathroom throwing up. My mom would be there with me, rubbing my back while I fell asleep on the bathroom floor in between vomit sessions. This is the only time I recall feeling deeply comforted.
When I was a teenager, and she found out I had thrown up on purpose—there was no back rubbing. I felt sick, but I got the opposite response I needed. I internalized her response at the cellular level. I’m not sure it will ever leave. If I couldn’t be sick and loved/cared for/comforted, I must be rotten.
This is the beginning of the Shame Monster that lives inside me.
“What would help take your mind off the stomach pain?”
My stomach was hurting from eating lunch—a salad I was desperately hungry for and ate in its entirety.
I knew the answer but couldn’t say anything. “I don’t know.”
“I was just thinking about comforting my kids and how I would—“
I just want my mom. Little-me pleads in my adult body, just lean in.
So I did, lean in. I’m getting good at that part. The part of totally opening the flood gates and flooding…everywhere. The flood gates let out anxiety and fear at first. I don’t know exactly why but I know vaguely why. When the fear was gone grief took its place and that hurts my soul.
My therapist did the things a mom would do if their child was crying, and that immediately makes me feel extraordinarily safe, even when I resist it. Today it was safe enough to be completely twelve and return to a memory that had my thoughts churning out cries I know I’ve silently cried before. Mom come please. Mom I need you. Mommy please, please, please help me.
Sometimes all of this seems like a broken record to me. How many times must I cry over/have fear over/need comfort for the same things? But I trust in this process. I trust my body will know when it’s done processing, when there isn’t anything left to say. And I fully trust my team when they tell me I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I trust their hugs, their safety, their ability to keep holding space for me even when I feel sick, and redundant and unworthy.
I trust my body and I have to keep nourishing it to keep going.