During the stomach surgery at three-weeks-old, I ran from my body as far and fast as I could to the edges of my extremities. I hid out in the tips of my fingers and toes. I strained to live in my fingernails and toenails. I barely inhabited myself. Anything could knock me over because I was absent from my core. My core was an angry throbbing monster attacking me. My core was sheer pain. Anywhere but there was my motto. Trouble is, after I recovered from the surgery, I wasn’t helped to understand that it was safe to re-inhabit my core. My middle hardened into a plate of steel.
Last week, in my one-on-one bodywork session with Juerg, my Middendorf Breath teacher, we worked on releasing the tension in my diaphragm, a part of my body I’ve written about in my last two posts. (“. . . a muscular membrane . . . separating the thoracic and abdominal cavities and functioning in respiration” – American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.) It separates the lung cavity from the digestive organs. He told me that the diaphragm attaches to the back all along the lumbar spine. No wonder I’ve had pain in my lower back over the years.
The most awesome moment was when I was lying on my back, and Juerg pushed against the lowest points on my scapulae (shoulder blades). My diaphragm naturally expanded in breath, but simultaneously, my molars touched. I realized that I was beginning to brox or grit my teeth, an unconscious behavior I’ve engaged in for as long as I can remember. (I have grit my teeth so badly over the years that all my fillings loosened.) Now I see why I do it. I’m gritting down, trying to keep my diaphragm away from my stomach to avoid pain. Trouble is, the surgery was 58 years ago, and I don’t need to protect myself from pain anymore! But my body hasn’t known this. My diaphragm has lived in fear. No more. It’s thawing out. And the hard plate at the center of my body is softening. I’m melting. I’m coming alive.