While I was in grad school, I quit exercising. I tried, but I just couldn't make myself. I was so exhausted, so verklempt, that I just couldn't do it. I can look back and think something like "I would have felt a lot better if I could have made myself exercise", but when I look back, all that happened when I exercised was some body part of another went wonky and painful and I'd quit. And it never ever made me feel better. The sh*tstorm I was in wasn't about exercise. It was about burning the muthaf*cker down. I'm glad I didn't force myself to exercise.
When I got to Wilmington, I did a soul retrieval with a woman in California. Afterward, I was able to start exercising again. I rode my bike, did some light weightlifting. It was that same old way I'd always exercised, full of high mythic push, supercharging mixes of adrenalin and serotonin, always a feeling of aggression, of Just Do It shoving me on, a feeling of arrogant accomplishment, a kind of smug satisfaction with myself afterward. But there was also something different in the mix. Anger. For some reason, as I exercised, rage would roar through me, thoughts of hate and pissiness, belligerence at everyone from the mothers who blocked the paths with their enormous strollers to the cars who passed on my left mere inches from elbow. I'd arrive back at my apartment wanting to punch things, but instead I'd lift weights.
Then The Hoon got sick. And after he died, I found that I couldn't exercise anymore. At all. Even the thought of it caused nausea to roll. It felt like an obscenity - to pursue joy and UP when The Hoon was dead. I walked around my apartment asking over and over "where is he? where has he gone? where is he?" My bike rusted into immobility on the porch.
It took a year before I tried to exercise again. I don't remember what it was. I think it was a walk, or some light weights. But my body hurt too much. I backed off. Art and his machine helped break up a lot of the scar tissue, and that brought less pain. Then I did the journey, got the directive back this past March to get out and walk/run, so I knew the practical aspect of what I needed to do. But it wasn't until I had the endoscopy and got on the IBS and ulcer meds that the physical pain diminished enough for me to start moving and keep moving.
It's been a couple/few weeks now. I walk four or five times a week. I started out with a mile. And was aching and sore afterward. But not so much that there was injury. I kept it up, a mile and a half, two miles, two and a half miles, three miles. And that's where I'm at. I do a brisk three miles, come home, do a few sets of upper body and arm, back and shoulders. Takes a little over and hour, spit spot.
And the payoff is marvelous. All that remains of the excruciating pain I was in just three weeks ago is down to a some very mild aching in my back, and a swollen stomach that looks kinda weird - is my sigmoid so relaxed it's expanded several sizes? - but isn't painful at all. But the best part? The sense of super chill. You know the one - it's as if someone dialed the radio station in and all the static is gone, like a resounding gentle hum of Ahhhhhhhh vibrates through the body, like tequila without the hangover, like, why yes, the dance of the happy serotonin that we all know and love.
And surprise, surprise, the Waking Up stuff is ramping up again. There's something about the walking that is causing this huge release of stored past. As I walk the anger kicks in, but instead of turning it into a Kick Ass/Take Names exercise routine, I just walk, and watch. No running, no pushing, just walking. Sometimes brisk walking, sometimes my arms are pumping, but there's no manic drive, just motion.
I don't try to stop the thoughts, or change the thoughts. I just watch, follow them to their conclusion, and a new one arrives and roars down the canyons of consciousness. The meds make me tired in the mornings, so I lay in bed for a while before I get up, and the past does another big dump. Things, people, situations I haven't thought of in years arise. Even in the middle of the night, suddenly awake at 3 am, thinking about the series of sexual abusers that started in my early teens, that I just stopped letting into my body a few years ago, or the people I loved and trusted, who walked away and couldn't have cared less.
There is no Poor Me in any of this, just remembering. It's simple to say: stop being aggressive, negative, fighting. It's quite another to realize that rage is an effective tool to chase ass*holes away. It's one thing to say: lose weight. It's another to understand that fat makes great armor against possible romantic advances. And these huge releases of past show how it all fits together, the connect-the-dots. And then it's gone, and another begins opening up.
It doesn't matter to me that I'm not a Nice Person anymore. I could care less about soul mating. And while the fat is bothersome on a health level, I'm fine with it otherwise.
But I get that the walking and pieces of past that are rising up out of me are changing me. I'm ready to let her go, this person I've been for so long, who isn't me, but someone I wore for a while. But I'm okay if it takes another direction. I trust the process. If I fully Wake Up, fine. If I don't, if the rest of my life is spent with stuff like this, this peeling of Katherine one layer at a time until the day I die, I'm okay with that too.
What I get now is This Is It. This is the deal. This really is all there is. Publishing a book, or losing thirty pounds, or having the holistic stuff I'm creating gain traction and substance - all of it might change the sheen, the reflection coming off my living. But it won't change what occurs inside of me. It is the freefall to the inside that's important, and the only function, the only worth of what occurs outside is how it cuts me free to fall.
I think it's hilariously funny that this part of the Waking Up journey is comprised of western meds and 3-mile walks in leafy suburbia, a job in a cubicle and hours and hours of silence with kitties in the sun. Life's sense of humor with all this stuff is just so awesome . . . Who needs enlightenment on mountaintops when there are so many split level ranch houses and their azalea and roses and pine tree filled yards to breathe in and feel the Yes over?