Drawing by René Descartes. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

MIND-BODY DISCONNECT:

A CONVERSATIONAL MONLOGUE

WRITTEN BY LEANNE STEWART
Mind-Body Disconnect

It’s been two months since I ruptured discs in my neck and back, an accident that took me by complete surprise. The normal coping mechanisms I’ve used in the past to deal with injuries and trauma seem to be working, except there is something I keep butting up against. There is this resistance, this disconnect between my mind and my body I just can’t remove or repair.

Though my mind is normally the one doing all the talking, this time, I thought I’d let my body take the conversational lead to see if there was something I haven’t heard before—something that I might need to know in order to stop backsliding and continue healing. I decided to initiate a conversation, thinking that if I told my body about my uncertainty and confusion, we’d have a shot at creating clarity and understanding. I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

Leanne: So, I’m sure you already know this, but I’ve struggled with understanding what’s going on. I can’t figure out why we have this disconnect between mind and body right now, nor can I understand why what I want, in terms of physical ability, isn’t something you seem able to give me.

THERE IS THIS RESISTANCE, THIS DISCONNECT BETWEEN MY MIND AND MY BODY I JUST CAN’T REMOVE OR REPAIR.

I thought we’d turned a corner. I thought we’d accepted the injuries and moved forward to a better future, one of healing, strength, and complete restoration. I thought you were in agreement with me and that we were on our way to full health; especially, mentally. But, the last few days, specifically after the attempted walk to the library today, it seems like we’re just not in sync.

It feels like all the signs and signals my brain is sending me that trigger me to take action and embrace an activity or outing, are signals you’re not receiving. No sooner have I prepared us to leave the house than you seem to collapse on me, requiring me to rethink things or worse, cancel them. This leaves me upset because all the feelings and mental sensations triggering absolute joy, focus, and hope that I’ve been having are not translating themselves in a way that I can physically feel.

I need help understanding why this is happening and what I’m missing.

Drawing by René Descartes. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Body: Um, hey, totally great plans, we fully agree with your vision for us but, like, we (all of the parts that make up our body) have to tell you that we just can’t. Right now, we’re not ready. I know you see us running over the islands and climbing the rocks to look out over the North Sea and we see that, too, just not now.

PLEASE STOP FORCING AND PUSHING US TO DO THINGS WE JUST CAN’T DO. PLEASE LOVE US SO HARD AND BREATH NEW LIFE INTO US BY RELEASING EXPECTATIONS FOR HOW YOU THINK THIS SHOULD BE.

Now, we pretty much need to focus on healing, repairing and maintaining our current level of health. If that means only 30 minutes of pool therapy twice a week, and then the rest of the days spent reading, sleeping, working on activities of daily living like bathing, eating, housework, and administrative stuff regarding your injury, then that’s all we can do.

Please don’t lose heart. Please keep believing in us, but also, this time, please stop forcing and pushing us to do things we just can’t do. Please love us so hard and breath new life into us by releasing expectations for how you think this should be. We know it’s tough. We know the mental gunk that threatens your well-being, our well-being, when you feel like all you’re doing is laying around being fat and lazy.

We know how all the old tapes sound because we’ve had to listen to them for years. While a lot of them are really lovely (like how you have always loved our lines and curves and how you celebrate all the hard times we’ve endured and all the trauma, injuries, and neglect we went through), we also hurt. When we see you lose the lenses of love you normally see us with and instead, replace it with views that critique—judge us according to false standards we wish you’d discard once and for all.

SO, FOR ALL THE TIMES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE GOT TO APOLOGIZE TO US FOR NOT TAKING BETTER CARE, WE WANT TO APOLOGIZE TO YOU FOR NOT LETTING YOU KNOW IN WAYS YOU COULD SEE, HOW MUCH WE APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE.

See, we know what it’s like, and yes, that’s not to say you haven’t squandered chances to make us into the body you idealize in your mind—the one you think is what will finally make you “worthy” of acceptance and love. But we also know that maybe, just maybe, your focus on other things over the years, like school or parenting or surviving stuff that most people would not have been able to handle, took all the resources you had. When you were able to concentrate on us, you did, and even when you couldn’t give us everything we needed, you still came up with ways to maintain our health and feed us, nourish us, and care for us.

We’re so crazy thankful to you for that, just like you’re always so crazy thankful to us.

What? That surprises you?

You didn’t know that all the times you spent preparing good food for us and filling us with nutrients that helped us heal, we appreciated it? You didn’t know that every time you gave us a facial or dry brushed our skin before you showered, shaved, and then lovingly applied essential oils over us in slow, concentrated efforts, you were filling us up? You didn’t know that every time we heard you offer praise and prayer for each of our parts, we trembled with joy that you knew and loved us enough to offer us up to God?

You love so well, and usually, it’s others you lavish care on, but you also, over the years, have lavished love and care on us, and we’re near tears thinking you never knew how much we knew and noticed it. So, for all the times you feel like you’ve got to apologize to us for not taking better care, we want to apologize to you for not letting you know in ways you could see, how much we appreciate what you have done, and what you continue to do for us.

Which brings us to where we are now. Honey, we know you want more. We know you want to do more, go more, be more right now. We see the hurt and tears and the confusion and the disappointment when you work so hard to get ready to take us on a long walk, but less than two minutes into it, realize we aren’t able to accommodate your desires for movement and motion.

WHEN WE SEE YOU LOSE THE LENSES OF LOVE YOU NORMALLY SEE US WITH AND INSTEAD, REPLACE IT WITH VIEWS THAT CRITIQUE—JUDGE US ACCORDING TO FALSE STANDARDS WE WISH YOU’D DISCARD ONCE AND FOR ALL.

We see it, and it hurts us, too, to not be able to give you what you want but also, it causes us to pull back a bit because we’re afraid you’ll push us again like you’ve got a habit of doing. It scares us, Leanne, that you force us and override us with your will. We’re so afraid we can’t trust you that maybe, part of the reason this disconnect between mind/body is happening right now, is because there’s more than mental or physical healing that needs to take place. Maybe, at a soul level, what we both need is repair of our relationship.

So, keep on working to feed your mind and feed us, too, with visualizations for how restored health will be, because, truth be told, sometimes we doubt you’ll ever let us get there. But, if we could also ask something of you, it would be this: Go back to the beginning and finally let it out. Get it all out and then begin again—together, you and we.

RELATED
On Chronic Illness & The Pain We Hide From Each Other
Pain Detective
On Chronic Pain & Physician’s Empathy
An Interview with Dr. Beth Darnall
On Creating Space For Wholeness
Acceptance
On redefining your value
Bad Blood
The Midwife
ON LIVING WITH PAIN & HELPING OTHERS
Directed By Michael Cameneti
Nicole Young has enough hospital bracelets from ER visits to fill a gallon-large bag. Her mysterious stomach spasms leave her unable to enjoy the food she cooks for family, an...
The Midwife
ON LIVING WITH PAIN & HELPING OTHERS
Directed By Michael Cameneti
Nicole Young has enough hospital bracelets from ER visits to fill a gallon-large bag. Her mysterious stomach spasms leave her unable to enjoy the food she cooks for family, an...