EveryBody is Different
There’s an old saying… one I heard far more than I’d have liked to when I was a kid: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. What that really meant was “Move on and forget about it.”
I know it never meant, “suck it up and you can write about it when you’re in your 70’s,” but that’s pretty much what’s happened for me. It been a long time since then and I’m not proud of the way I lived at least half of those years. Still, I came around eventually. I learned from my past and from my reactions to my past, and ended up as, essentially, a counselor.
But nothing like that happened for my sister with whom I shared that childhood.
She could neither move on from the things that we endured nor forget about them. Each of us spent decades avoiding ourselves… we just did it in very different ways, as we would… we were very different people.
The very same abuse that caused me to disassociate as a child — something I had done automatically but which she was apparently unable — or unwilling — to do — drove her mad; she was diagnosed as a delusional, paranoid schizophrenic before she even got to college. My horrific memories returned regularly as dreams but hers were part of her waking life and she simply could not escape them. Both of us exhibited — starting in our teens — startling and disturbing behaviors; mine usually only required topical medication after the fact but hers landed her in an exotic religious sect where she spent the rest of her life.
We were sisters; there was a little more than a year’s difference in age between us… but I bent and she broke. My bending resulted in my being ‘distanced’ from what had happened to me. I repressed all knowledge of it for decades. I dove into the mess I’d turned into while my sister just opted out. Even though she tried to shut the door on her past and all the emotions that had been generated by the massive sexual abuse she’d endured, her memories haunted her every day as if they were a potential reality just lurking around every corner.
Everyone is different. Everyone responds to the events of life in different ways and those differences are not always subtle. My sister was content with hiding herself in what she considered to be a safe place among what she considered to be safe people but she never did escape from re-living her past in her mind, a mind that informed her that men with bad intentions were after her… even in the temple where she sought solace.
Not everyone can make lemonade from lemons… in fact, most people have to figure out their own ways to work through whatever slings and arrows outrageous fortune aimed at them and found their mark. Those that can’t afford therapy often head for the bookshelves. There are a gazillion books out there — many good, many excellent, some just plain nonsense — to help people find their way to themselves. My advice to anyone in search of themselves via books would be, if whatever book-jacket you’re looking at, or interview you’re watching, ‘hits’ you as “This makes sense,” try it. You’ll know in a year or so if it doesn’t work because nothing in your life will have changed… but just the fact of you trying, will have made a difference to the consciousness of your body. It’s a small difference, but it’s progress! You’ll have let your body know, by your actions and attempts to heal yourself, that you care… that you have literally made a commitment not just to yourself but to your body as well. Your body will recognize that because that’s where everything you are starts, with the cellular intelligence of your body. Your body will know what works; listen to it… let your brain — your mind — act as a sort of translator between you and your body.
No person is exactly the same as another… not even twins. Consequently, no technique for self-improvement is going to work for everyone. You have to find your perfect match… and your body can let you know what that will be.
Your body knows every little thing about you and your life; it knows things you don’t even know you know. It knows who you are and how you are in the world and no two of us are the same. About 70% of folks have an absolutely reliable “gut response.” That’s that whole-body reaction you get that kicks in before your mind even has a chance to think about whatever it was that you saw or heard or felt. The reaction is immediate and it’s never wrong. In old Disney movies there was a character that cautioned, “Let your conscience be your guide,” which is great advice for moral dilemmas but of far less use for pretty much anything else. Your gut response is essentially a form of physical intuition that you can count on across the board.
For the remaining 30% of folks — those who don’t have access to a gut response — wait for your more mental intuition to kick in. It will. Take in the information you are interested in and, as one of my teachers used to say, walk with it. In other words, let it simmer in the natural intelligence of your body and at some point, your body’s intelligence will manifest in your mind as “a hunch,” or as intuition, which it is: inner-tuition… your body teaching you.
Alternately, you can sleep on the issue… but this works best if you have already established what I call a working relationship with your body, which is to say that you regularly take good care of your body, that you keep it safe, and maybe you even chat every once in a while. (I recommended talking to your body! Especially saying “Thank you!” at those times when your body has gone above and beyond for you and/or apologizing for eating whatever that was that you knew you shouldn’t have eaten.)
Most importantly, if life has broken you in some way… don’t despair and don’t give up on yourself. Your body — whose main interest is staying alive — can help you. Talk nice to him or her or them and open up to what can become — and should be — the most important relationship in your life. It’s certainly the most intimate one. Let your body lead the way to the healing that will benefit you both and give you access to the best information you will ever have about how you work and about what you need for you both to live long and prosper.