She’s little, maybe 5 or 6 years old. She outside, playing in the trees. She’s alone, but she doesn’t mind. She doesn’t feel alone. She’s talking to someone, but from the outside, no-one would know who. Maybe it’s the trees. Maybe she has an imaginary friend. Maybe it’s to herself. Maybe it’s all of them.
She has no shoes on for no other reason is that she doesn’t think to put any on. She has dirt under her toenails, and patches of dust all the way up her legs. Her dress is slightly torn, but it’s not something she’s noticed. Not because she’s careless. She just likes climbing and sometimes things get caught. No matter.
When she’s not talking to someone or something around her, her body hums her. Little vibrations of sound that make their way out of her cells and add their thoughts to the breeze.
She notices she’s hungry, so she skips inside to get something to eat. She opens the cupboard to grab a biscuit and a voice behind her says, don’t eat that. It will make you fat.
It’s not the first time she’s been told it, but it’s the first time she’s heard it.
She pauses, confused. Her head tries to make sense of what she’s heard.
She hadn’t thought of her body as a shape before, much less a good shape or a bad shape. This confuses her more.
And she hadn’t thought of her body being a good shape or a bad shape mattering to anyone else. This is confusing too.
And she hadn’t thought, until now, that both of those things should matter to her. She wonders what else she missed, in her talking and her humming.
It doesn’t feel good, this wondering about her body and what else she’s missed. She pulls a jumper over her dress and walks slowly back outside.
Today, I had a conversation with a beautiful person about remembering. That she’s been thinking a lot about her family’s focus on her being thin, and how the emotions that have surfaced have been difficult ones. One’s of sadness and even of despair.
It’s a common experience, in the work that I teach, that as we unravel our old physical patterns through movement, all the emotions and thoughts attached to them rise to the surface also. After all, we can’t release something we aren’t aware of.
It’s not a relief, she told me to feel these things. It’s the opposite.
For the body to release, it offers everything forward for you to see, I reply back. It can be hard.
The art of it is to be a witness, not an investor. To witness the feelings that you weren’t allowed to process at the time. To allow yourself the grief.
Imagine, I said, a little girl. The little girl I wrote about above.
Imagine that little girl being told the things you were. And how confusing that must have been.
For that little girl, what you are feeling right now is appropriate and valid. And in this glorious adult body we inhabit, we get to hold space for the experience to cycle through, and to make choices for how we would like things to be moving forward.
It doesn’t make the hard-ness go away. But understanding it from this perspective can soften the edges.
It’s not easy, this process of releasing patterns. But it’s worth it.