A month after finishing chemo I started running again.
I had been so tired that walking once a week was the only thing I felt like doing when I was undergoing treatment. But now that I was done, I wanted to move my body more, to lose the baby weight that I hadn’t had the opportunity to shed before, to regain muscle mass atrophied by the lack of activity and the medication. And to start feeling alive again.
That first run was so painful.
I ran for 13 minutes, it felt like hours and I was exhausted as if I’d run a marathon. I didn’t know I could be so out of shape. But 2 short months later, I could run for an hour two days in a row! It felt so good. The weight was slowly coming off and I started feeling like a person again. I was even doing some strength training on machines at the YMCA. Another 2 months went by and I went on a girls’ week end with a friend. We biked all over Portland, she brought me to a dairy free pastry shop and we drank some wine.
Then we went to yoga.
I hadn’t gone to yoga in a really long time. There was no studio I liked close to my house and my pregnancies left me with diastasis recti (separation of the rectus abdominal muscles- the 6-pack muscle) which limited what moves I can do in yoga. But I went with my friend and I enjoyed it, I wasn’t too awfully out of yoga shape. At the very end we laid on our back, savasana, and relaxed…
That’s when my nervous system lost it.
Just laying there trying to relax. Feeling my body. Being in my body, I could feel the chemo medication running through my veins. I had a port-a-cath for my treatment, like a pebble under my skin right under the right collar bone. The veins in the arms are too weak to tolerate the meds overtime so they dump them directly into the jugular vein which is a lot bigger and closer to the heart.
And now lying on my yoga mat, I could feel the chemo flow through my body; I could even smell it and taste it.
I started shaking and tears were rolling out my closed eyelids.
I didn’t want to have a full-on emotional crisis/release amidst strangers at the end of their Sunday yoga class. I kept telling myself “open your eyes open your eyes open your eyes”. I finally did. The shaking stopped pretty quickly and the tears dried up. I was surprised by my reaction.
I had no idea those sensations were still inside me.
Knowing a little bit about psychology and trauma I was aware that I was pushing away a lot of my feelings toward my disease, trying not to think about them too much, just to keep going. I was telling myself I was simply “orienting to the future, not lingering in the past”. And I had a lot of other things on my mind. Now that my life wasn’t threatened anymore my baby’s care was more important than my own.
What was that release? I don’t know for sure. It didn’t feel cathartic at the moment. It took a few weeks for me to feel like something good had happened that day. But it really reinforced the idea that we all store our history in our body.
We hold our traumas and we hold on to our traumas.
Sometimes it’s not a big deal, you can still keep going, and sometimes it becomes debilitating: headaches, back pain, pelvic pain, chest pain, carpal tunnel, shortness of breath, sleep issues, anxiety… Those emotions affect you a lot more than you probably give them credit for.
Part of what I love in Rolfing® is when we happen to free those emotions, free those patterns held by your traumas and your emotional past.
Sometimes it is a conscious release, you know where the pattern is from, you can articulate that it’s related to a trauma, and as it goes away so does the trauma. But often you’re not conscious a) that it’s there b) that it’s a traumatic pattern. And yet as it goes away a sense of well being overcomes you, and with the physical pain, some psychological pain or burden also dissipates.
Like a heavy rain cloud finally being blown away.