I might as well begin this post by asking a question for which nobody knows the answer.  “What does a body know?”  I experience so much of my life IN MY BODY in such troublesome ways – or at least in ways that I cannot say I like.  Moment to moment I battle to obtain any tiny slice of my life that I can claim as MY OWN separate from what my body seems screamingly to tell me.

I am emerging from a state of exhaustion from the stressors of my travels, from my return, from a nasty bug I am still not over yet that required antibiotics.  As strength and stamina begin to return to my body I am realizing that it was ONLY in those worst days of being sick (something that used to happen to me so seldom) that what I call my ‘anxiety’ did not seem to be physically present in my awareness.

Last evening before sunset my anxiety came back to me (darn it!).  It began when I received a second telephone call on my phone while I was conversing with my daughter.  I hurried to catch this local call though I had no idea who would be on the other end.  In one fell swoop a past era of my life was brought back to me – unexpectedly.

There was nothing identifiably threatening about the caller or the topic of the call.  An 82 year old gentleman who had asked me a year ago to send him some copies of the songs I had written wanted to apologize for his year of neglect in acknowledging them.  He explained the serious health troubles he’s been battling.  He talked a lot with his gentle, well-intentioned voice.

I have not touched my keyboard for months.  Yes, all events stacked against me as I began to work to learn how to play and read music did discourage me.  Why did anxiety arise at the mention of this era that I have moved past for the time being?

I do not know, but this call was immediately followed within moments by my discovering a growing pool of water in my front yard.  Nope, not a leak in my irrigation line.  Yep, a leak in my yard from the main waterline coming from the meter outside my fence.  Turn off the main waterline.  Inner panic sets in.  Why exactly?  Fear I am to be blamed and held accountable for something I did not do – with some unforeseen, unimagined impending consequences of ‘punishment’ I cannot imagine — only feel coming at me out of the great unknown?  Shades of my insanely abusive childhood…..

And then there are the computer troubles that continue to give me cause to worry as I move forward on these books I want to publish.

And then………

I am fortunate in my life that nothing impending or in the que for arrival seems to begin to meet the fears I am always prepared to welcome changes with.

But my body does not know anything about what my life is like NOW.  It was prepared in a malevolent world from the moment of my birth to suffer from hardships nobody should have to bear.  I can’t ‘logic’ my body NOT to feel what it feels.

At the same time as I await the return of the plumber man with his tools to fix this water leak I think about the INTENSITY of what my body feels. Am I misnaming as ‘anxiety’ what really is ‘intensity’?

The inability to smoothly handle environmental challenges – and the inability to regulate emotions in seamless ways — is what we get when our mother failed absolutely to provide a safe and secure attachment while these body-brain functions were being built into us (as us) at the start of our life.  Certainly INTENSITY — if nothing else — was the most likely outcome for me of suffering what I did from my birth.

I could not name at the beginning of my life the causes of my terror and pain.  The monster was THERE.  I was THERE.  There was that perpetual struggle between what my body needed to stay alive and how those needs were brutally met.

In the meantime I wonder about the popular phrasing of the distress response we call ‘flight’.  I want to withdraw right now – from the world.  But wait!  I AM home!  The trouble for me is that an unknown stranger must enter my seclusion to complete a job that must be done.

I want to disappear from the world – which I mostly effectively manage to do.  But I cannot disappear from my body that holds all this intensity — we are supposed to be partners in this venture called life, not enemies.

I live in a world that is as quiet, secluded and unshakable as I can manage to make it.  But life is change.  Change seems to EQUAL intensity in my body.  Will it help me to live with this intensity better if I name it for what it probably is — seems to be – rather than always naming it ‘anxiety’?


A big part of this topic for me has to do with this serious beginning of my work to publish my insanely abusive mentally ill mother’s writings.  There is no way I can inoculate myself from feeling SOMETHING in my body as I work on this epic task.  I guess if the overall feeling that my body is going to alert me to in an ongoing way as I work is INTENSITY — far more than what would usually be the case — perhaps I can be grateful.

It could be a whole lot worse, a whole lot more uncomfortable, a whole lot more disturbing and distressing for me.

This intensity IS a body memory.  EVERYTHING about Mother’s interaction with me was intense first — and then painful, terrifying, whatever — next.

It may be that this intensity is the oldest feeling my body remembers.  The source feeling.  The foundational feeling.  The primary one from which all my other body feelings come from and connect back to.

Certainly my body is not going to ‘forget’ to tell me of this intensity as I plow the poisoned fields of my mother’s writings.  It is not going to let go of me as I work as hard as I can to let my mother’s lies stand exactly as she wrote them in these current books I am working on.

I did some writing this morning sitting outside with pen and spiral notebook that will probably find their way either into the preface, the introduction or my brief commentary section at the end of the book I am working on first.

I will not defend myself in these books, even if everything in my being tantrums now against me withholding my own truth from Mother’s books as I wait for the publication of my own.

No doubt I will become more familiar with this process as I move forward meaning that I will also become more comfortable in my body as I let Mother’s lies stand exactly as she wrote them.

My standing point is that every human being has the right to their own life no matter how they live it.  I am finally – tangibly – separating Mother’s reality from my own.  She could never do that.  I can.  I will.

I will learn about and from the intensity in my body that I cannot at this moment buffer myself from.  I will be as careful of myself as I can be.  I had no control over this dang water line ending its life in its own spot at its own time.  But the man who is here fixing it now is a very nice person.  This shall pass.  All will be OK.


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2 thoughts on “+WHAT DOES A BODY KNOW?

  1. Linda, I really connected with several aspects of this post. I particularly liked; “…I think about the INTENSITY of what my body feels. Am I misnaming as ‘anxiety’ what really is ‘intensity’? ”
    Definitely reminds me of one of the central aspects of my own process. Turning anxiety into intensity … and turning that intensity into productivity of some sort. Sometimes if I’m incapable of focus on tasks, I’ll turn my intensity to breathing exercises or physical exercise of some sort. I believe I’ve actually increased the diameter of my rib cage in the past 1.5 years from all of the breathing and exerting. Not to mention that I believe that I actually changed the structure of the bones in my face that were collapsed an a way that narrowed my nasal passages, making my breathing difficult and shallow. I feel the difference now — the stimulating sensation of a healthy volume of air passing thru my nasal concha, as well as stimulation of my lower lungs as they drop and expand in new ways. I can also see that the structure of my face has changed, it looks more defined.
    These are very good things for me. Born of sustained intensity.

    I appreciate your work.

    • Thank you, Gregory! I still experience serious troubles with my breathing – and with my cigarette smoking that I know is related. I am aware now at age 61 that these difficulties are connected in my body with SHEER TERROR. My terror is not an emotion that I have been able to directly face. If you could recommend a book to me that is very simple, clear, direct and compassionate about BREATHING itself – please post info to me here! Much appreciated – and congratulations to you!! Impressive – and hopeful to me.

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