BREAK IT DOWN TO BUILD IT BETTER
By: Lauren Anderson
All summer long, I haven’t been feeling very well physically.
Not sick really, but not at peak Anderson to be sure. To tell you the truth, I can’t quite place it. Some days I feel bloated, and some I feel hollow. But there is a general “weakness” element that I can’t put my finger on. It feels weird inside my body though, and I hate that I don’t know why.
As someone who finds a lot of body love in feeling strong and robust in health, this is hitting me right in my power center. When the swirl of negative thoughts decide to come– and they always come— the first place I usually start to talk myself back out of that danger zone is, “You are very strong. In your body and in your mind.”
Lately when I say that to myself, I don’t FEEL it inside. It feels like a lie.
BUT WAIT! IT’S NOT A LIE! So what’s up?
Well, it hit me like a ton a bricks…or I should say, a ton of boxes.
I was walking down my stairs to get to the back parking lot of my apartment. That’s when I tripped on the boxes and boxes that were strewn outside the recycling bin.
One of the businesses that’s right underneath my apartment, decided to recycle like, 12 giant cardboard boxes without breaking them down. They just threw them haphazardly into the bin. And when they stopped fitting, they left the rest on the ground. To be tripped on by people like me.
Annoying right? Bad manners and bad form.
I had a choice. I could be annoyed for the next two weeks because that’s how long in between recycle pick ups at my place. Or I could march into one of 6 potential businesses and accuse them of being bad neighbors, and hope that one of them would be accountable and correct their error. Or… I could take 10 minutes and break down these boxes myself.
I chose to break down the boxes.
I wasn’t happy about it, and I wasn’t trying to be a martyr.
I was actually trying to make my own life more livable. Because I do have some low-key OCD. You know the kind that makes you stop when shopping at the grocery store and make all the soup labels face the same way? Yeah. That’s me.
And I didn’t want to trip every time I went out to my car.
Also, IT’S NOT RIGHT DAMMIT!!!
From my years in retail (especially working at the toy store) breaking down boxes is like second nature to me. It was relatively and easy work. But I was really mad about it. I started sweating and frustrated that I was being forced to clean up after someone that was so inconsiderate of every other person that lived or worked near these recycle bins.
Why am I the the one that has to break these down? Why is this how I am spending my time when I could be doing anything else instead on this hot summer day? Why do I have to clean up the mess of someone who could care less?
After about 5 boxes, I was sweating, mad and so frickin over it. There were still about 6 or 7 more boxes to go. Then I bent over to pick up another box and I started crying. It kinda blobbed out of my eyes like 0-to-60 miles in under a second. Like, the equivalent of a blurt-cry. If that’s even a thing?
Why the hell am I crying right now?
The tears shocked me. But I recognized the feeling. I was “doing the work” and feeling mad that I was the one doing it and not the person that did the wrong thing. Hmmmm.
Then that strange body feeling crept in. Hollowed out and still somehow bloated, exhausted, and WEAK. I wiped my eyes and checked in with my body. Yup. It was the same thing I’ve been feeling off and on all summer. What the hell?!
Because I am always in search of the “deeper meaning” in things, I stopped and checked in with myself some more. What’s going on here? Why I am reacting so strangely right now? If my therapist and my nutritionist have taught me anything, it’s that putting away judgement and putting on my detective hat is usually the most helpful thing.
It didn’t take long for me to put it all together. The act of breaking down these boxes became an intense metaphor. Say what you will about the realness of metaphysical symptoms. But I truly believe that the body and the mind are connected.
All the body work I’ve done, and all the work I’ve been doing in therapy have really “broken me down” to the core of what’s been hurting me all these years. The hurt that has also manifested inside my body.
And I can feel a systemic change in everything on a chemical level. I may look the same on the outside, but inside it’s all different in here.
Cavernous where it used to be packed full. Open where I was once buried in concrete. That kind of thing. A state of being that has left me feeling more “healthy” in mind and spirit than I think I ever have. But I would be lying if I said my body wasn’t playing catch up.
My body is having “aftershocks” to the break throughs I’m making in my mind. And it’s not always welcome, and hasn’t always been pleasant. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite.
It’s like I have to go all the way dark before I can welcome in the light. Or I have to take it all apart to see where I’m at, so I can put it back together stronger.
But being “apart” is not easy. And it takes time.
The work and the healing that I embarked on these last few years, and most especially in the last 6 months, has been for me, by me. AND I fully accept the responsibility and my role in what got me there in the first place.
But the weird thing, I’m discovering it’s not all me.
It was also society. It was also expectations set on me. It was trauma/abuse inflicted by an outside party– that I didn’t even know were those things. I thought I was over-reacting, and beating myself up for letting it affect me so deeply. I hid myself away, or tried to eat myself to safety.
And the more I did that, the farther I got away from myself. Habit became indistinguishable from my personality. Which left me asking myself the question,
“Is this really who I am? Or is this a habit that I adopted to help myself survive?”
To continue my allegory… most of the “boxes” that I’ve spent time and money and intense effort to heal/break down, weren’t left by me. It was an outside party/parties/circumstance being an asshole.
And yet here I am, left to do the work, break down the boxes and put it all away.
HARDCORE STUFF right?
And kinda heavy. But it’s also so joyful. It’s like I’m meeting myself again for the first time.
But it’s also exhausting. And frustrating. And incredibly freeing!
Breaking down those boxes became an intense allegory for healing that I found fascinating.
No wonder I haven’t been feeling that well. I think all this “discovery” is showing up in my body. The metaphysical symptoms are in full force. And that’s okay. Because if those damn boxes taught me anything, some times I gotta do things I don’t want to do, to create healthy change. Even when it’s not my mess, if it affects me– I can do what I need to do to create the environment I want.
Whether it’s in my back alley, or inside my own body.
Sometimes I gotta break it all down, so I can put it back together again…better.