Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reclaiming my Body

Six weeks ago to the day, I had surgery on my right shoulder (to repair a torn rotator cuff and bicep tendon). My sling has been a permanent part of my body 24/7. Today it came off! I'm still not allowed to move my arm away from my body. For the next six weeks I cannot lift anything heavier than a small book. But this morning, when I put my socks on by myself, I rejoiced.

I have had several such windows into old age (I just turned 60, so I'm not quite in the old age category yet). In 2005, I fractured my ankle in three places when my bike slid on gravel. In the emergency room, when the doc came in with my x-rays and I inquired,"How bad is it?" he said, "If you were a horse, we'd put you down."

Laid up for three months, I understood what it feels like to be frail and helpless. It's not pretty.

It took more than a year for my ankle to heal enough to where it doesn't hurt when I dance or hike. Then I had surgery on my left knee. That recovery, too, took a year. Now my shoulder. I have one limb left that hasn't had surgery.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because the lesson for me is about reclaiming my body. As a survivor of early childhood sexual abuse, I hated my body for most of my life. I hated how it looked. I hated being labeled "pretty" as a child when I felt ugly inside. I do believe there is a mind/body/spirit connection and my body reacted to my hatred. I'm not saying I deliberately or consciously caused the accidents that resulted in bodily injuries. Nor do I think I caused the illnesses that resulted in gall bladder surgery and a hysterectomy. But I do think there are consequences to hating (whether it's ourselves or someone else).

I've worked hard the last few years to shift my self-hatred to self-love. Having lost 43 pounds, I now look and feel bunches better. I like who I've become as a woman, a wife, a mother and friend. I do work I enjoy.

So for me, the removal of my arm from a sling is a metaphor for reclaiming this body I once hated. It has carried me for 60 years. Its arms allow me to hug others. Its lips allow me to kiss my hubby. Its voice allows me to sing my songs. Its legs allow me to dance. Its brain and its hands allow me to write these words. It's time to accept it as it is and to love it a bit more each day.



Anonymous said...

Good for you, Karen - love your attitude and appreciated the spirit of this post. :)

The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

Galen Kindley said...

I can relate to the ankle thing. I broke mine skiing about 2001. It's never been the same. I don't limp or anything, but weight bearing and impact activities are limited or just plain can't be done. And, you get a for sure high five on weight loss. Color me impressed!!!

Best Regards, Galen

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a great post. I love your honesty! You've really come to terms with these issues in a healthy way. For that, you should be proud!

AlanChinWriter said...

Congratulations, on the cast coming off and you being 100% heathy again, and also for your wonderful attitude about reclaiming your life.
I like the idea that we are all survivers. You don't live for more than a half-century without surviving hardships.

alan chin

Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

I love the post. Every since having kids, I've been reclaiming my body, not liking it much since having kids. Or getting older. But it is the vessel that allows me to enjoy life. so I'm with you, working on reclaiming it. Congrats on the 43 pounds!

Jennifer Taggart

N A Sharpe said...

Congratulations on getting the sling off. As frail as our bodies are, they are resilient. Thank goodness. I know how it feels to have a body out of commission and how great it feels when things are right once again. Embrace that feeling.


Patricia Stoltey said...

It's amazing to me that our bodies and minds take so much abuse and yet have the potential to keep bouncing back. I hope your shoulder is all better soon. And if you have a few aches and pains creep up on you from time to time, take a look at a book called Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. It's a great program of fairly easy stretches and positions (a little like Yoga) that I'm convinced has saved me from early knee replacement surgery.


Jina Bacarr said...

Courageous post...and soul-uplifting.

Thank you for sharing. Glad you're feeling better.


The Practical Preserver said...

I try to look at these incidents as lessons. Lord, am I learning a lot, or what? When the body betrays you, it sure points out what you already knew at the subconscious lever: Life is short. Time is precious. Don't suffer fools (gladly or otherwise).