Lately, as I have been writing ideas for talks, I have been continually misspelling the word relationship. Spelling incorrectly is common for me, but how I have been misspelling relationship made me stop to think. As if second nature, I have been writing the word as this: Realationship. Real. I thought, “Huh…it should be spelled that way, because we can’t have healthy, good relationships unless we really get real with ourselves.”
I have spent the last few years getting “real” with myself and I am going to be honest with you, it’s not pretty and truthfully it hurts a bit. We don’t like pain: it’s uncomfortable, so naturally we try and avoid it, even if we know in the end it will be good for us. When we decide to ignore the hard or “real” stuff, it gets stuck in our bodies— trapped. The tough stuff gets masked as headaches, back pain, upset stomachs, weight gain or loss; in other words, we are stuck with it, just not in the way we expected. When we aren’t real with ourselves our pain can also prohibit our ability to feel physical pleasure in sex and impede on intimacy.
There is a great book I have been reading called Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. The book, as the title suggests, focuses on food as a way to avoid paying attention to our feelings, though really her message can translate across anything we numb ourselves with. In the book she says, “…. because unmet feelings obscure our ability to know ourselves.” She continues with, “Our minds are masters at blame, but our bodies…our bodies don’t lie. Which, is of course, why so many of us learned to zip out of them at the first sight of trouble.” This could be why when you are intimate with someone you may not like being touched in certain areas of your body. Maybe you experienced a trauma there, maybe you suffered an injury and it brings back that memory of pain. Our minds bury the emotion but like she said, our bodies speak what we are avoiding to feel.
I was a dancer growing up through my twenties. Dancing was my way of being in check with my emotion. It was how I allowed my body to speak. When I was 25 I suffered from a bad knee injury and it took me years to recover. In that time, I wasn’t as connected to my body and I can tell it inhibited my growth as a person. It made me depressed not to dance and sadly I turned to food to avoid what I was feeling. I denied myself to really access any real pain, grief, or shame that I was feeling. Because I did this, I disconnected from my core and what my body was trying to tell me what I needed.
When we allow ourselves to feel we discover more of what we are actually capable of. We can discover hidden strength and a sense of worth. We also start realizing that we deserve to be treated with respect and care. We are able to seek out what we need through relationship and are able to give more openly. We are also able to communicate more clearly with our partners or friends. Relationships are how we function in this world. To make them the best they can be we need to understand that being real helps us heal and invites us into a more intimate space with ourselves and others.
What do you need to do to get real? What are you avoiding that sits in the back of your mind that makes an appearance when you least like it to? Whatever it is, recruit a trusted friend who loves you no matter what and let them know that you are about to get ‘real’ so that they can be a safety net of sorts. Have a list of counselors in hand, journal, incorporate meditation, exercise, find a cozy blanket, and some grace. When you get real, account for that grace and breathe. It will hurt a bit, hell it could hurt a lot, but the teachings and discoveries will be a gift. Whatever it has been that has been hurting, will start to heal.