It always comes back to this.
This week I gave myself a simple task, to work through the five senses in search of new ways of approaching self-care. Day 1 and 2 went swimmingly but I hit a brick wall yesterday with Day 3.
I had a draft almost completed listing the ways in which I enjoy the sensation of touch, like the feel of my cat's fur or working with yarn, braiding my kid's hair or the feel of my body in water.
In fact, and fortunately, I love typing. Growing up, my Dad was a teacher and he used to borrow typewriters from school. One summer I taught myself to type by cutting holes in a shoebox and placing it over my hands so I couldn't see them while I typed. I was able to touch type very quickly and spent the rest of that summer typing books, and poems and plays (unfortunately all discarded). I lived the life of the writer, and my eleven year old brain I was in heaven.
Writing can take you outside of yourself and give you an escape. You can go anywhere, do anything, it is a tremendous release. Yet over the years I have discovered that I am not a writer of fiction, nor a poet or a playwright. It is non-fiction which compels me, I read it often and love personal opinion pieces the most. The study of someone's life, the pursuit of self-analysis is something I find really fascinating.
Of course, that sort of writing requires a different approach. A lot more musing over self and how you fit into the world around us. Self-examination and evaluation are part and parcel of the non-fiction writer's day to day. A seemingly simple project such as considering the five senses can take you down roads you were never expecting. This is what happened to me yesterday.
As I considered returning to my drafted piece on the sense of touch I found myself resisting. I cleaned, I watched television, I picked at the skin around my fingernails and desperately wanted to eat. Panic was rising and I couldn't really understand it.
Why on earth couldn't I finish such a simple activity?!
We've joined the gym as a family and go together to use the facilities. The weight machines were a welcome distraction yesterday and a much better one than the Easter chocolate which still lingers in the pantry (would someone hurry up and eat that already?!) As my legs pumped up and down on the bike and my hands gripped the handles of the rowing machine, I teased out some of what was going on.
The sense of touch is, in itself, is an enormous trigger for me. I expect that many people suffering/recovering from eating disorders would say the same. To practice mindfulness in the form of touch is to FEEL your body. To be in it absolutely. This is, actually, agony. It's easy enough to glibly speak about pleasant sensations but to really consider them and write about them, it seems, is a very different matter. I didn't know this.
But you could pour all of the things I still don't know about myself into a sinkhole and there'd definitely be an overflow.
Sitting here at the end of this piece I can say that it is good to think and write about this experience. Panic attacks are always fleeting, eventually. For me the attempt at living in my skin is a worthwhile crusade which may take me so much longer than anticipated. I suppose having spent almost 30 years living in my head alone I can't expect this to happen quickly.
I will try to welcome these surprises.