Thursday, July 2, 2009

Body Memory

Here's the hard thing: giving up the need to control, and at the same time knowing who you are. Rolling with the punches, standing your ground. Listening, having a voice. Living in those paradoxes, feeling your way through them. That's the hard thing.

I had to have a filling replaced today. If you know me, you probably have noticed I have half a mouth full of silver. I got all of those when I was a kid, all in one fell swoop. Eight teeth with fillings. I think my mom still has conniptions over it, having to pay for all of those cavities at once. I'm pretty sure it was from that point on that I became fastidious about flossing and brushing, and going to the dentist every six months. I'm like a commercial for the ADA.

When I met Eric, he hadn't been to the dentist in, like, six years. I was horrified, sure that they would find eight cavities in his teeth. Once I finally got him the appointment and convinced him to go, I was equally horrified that he didn't have any cavities. Not one. And he doesn't always floss.

Life is unfair.

Anyway, I've always been very nervous in the dentist's chair. From all those years of painful braces, I think. Even smelling the soap they use, or the latex gloves, makes me flinchy. So I shouldn't have been surprised today when I got in the chair, and felt myself tense up, and start to shake, and sweat.

The thing is, there was no pain. And I kept telling myself to relax, going over different parts of my body over and over again and instructing them to let go. And still I would come back to them and they were tense. Still I got up from the chair shaking like I hadn't eaten in three days. All that body memory.


The past few days I felt the curtain of depression drop. I've had it my whole life, I guess, but I've been free from it for a few months and am always surprised when it comes back. I know now it will go away, probably sooner than later. I know now I don't need to look for some external reason for it. I know to take it easy on myself when I cry at the drop of a hat, don't feel like working, want to watch t.v. all day, am short-tempered and needy with Eric, shop like a zombie. I'm just sad that it's back.

Here's what helps: rest. Not doing things I don't want to do. Reading good books. Eating well. Above all, exercise, which is also the hardest thing to do when I'm depressed. Reminding myself I'm loved, even when I don't feel like it.


I guess what I'm getting at is that it's hardest to maintain my sense of self when old habits--body memories or otherwise--pull me back to a place I no longer wish to be, and that isn't commensurate with the actual experiences I'm having in the present. It's hardest to maintain when my current good, healthy habits seem useless in the face of some switch in my brain that's flipped on to "depression," without my permission. The ground shifts, my voice fades, my vision dims. It all will come back, but for now, I'm floating a bit, and holding my breath.

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