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What It Means to Love Thy Body.

I moved to New York February 3rd. My plane landed in the afternoon and my sweet sweet boyfriend, Danny, had me picked up by a driver and I met him at his work by the time he was off. I hadn’t seen him since January 2nd and I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest at the first sight of him. Could it be?! Danny in person! Not Face-time, not Skype. Person. Real life. When you date long distance, the feeling you get of seeing your significant other in real life is so surreal, you have to literally question yourself if you are dreaming or not. My World was spinning in all the best ways that day.

We hugged for what seemed like, ever. We kissed passionately. And we drove home and talked and he let me gawk at the views out the windows. To him, it was already “the norm” and to me, it was no Wasatch Mountain Range of Utah, but nonetheless, trees EVERYWHERE from the location the highways running through the woods. Snow capped land with enough snow to pack inside the Big Cottonwood Canyon and shred down fresh powder for weeks.

It never occurred to me then that my insides were in the middle of turmoil.

We stopped at Trader Joe’s on our way home and loaded up on groceries. That cutie pie had stocked our pantry previously with all the foods I loved so much to my surprise. He would be leaving in two days and seeing as how I wasn’t yet employed, the only money I had was what was already in my account and he didn’t want me to worry about not having money to buy food while he was in Manchester, UK for work for the ten day pre-season trip.

We went home by the evening and unpacked my luggage and he was giving me a tour of the apartment. Our cute one bedroom, hardwood floor apartment with checkered bathroom and a bedroom with broken ventilation. To me, I thought “this is romance.” The story of lovebirds living in New York in a shitty first apartment with a living room that has no electricity and no heat in the bedroom. The lights and heat worked everywhere else and I imagined us going through this year lease together learning how to fix up the apartment ourselves. New York is expensive to rent in and for the price you pay, it’s surprising how much you get. Like the small shelled bugs that periodically are caught roaming in our house. But it’s our home and that’s what makes it special. It’s our first place together and it’s the place that will upset us and let us down when something breaks and it will be up to us to not let it get the best of us because it’s our first place together and it will be the place that tests our teamwork. Because we are a team. Working hand in hand.

I love the apartment no matter what it’s like. I love the person I see standing across from me in the kitchen dipping his Chewy Chips Ahoy into a glass of Organic Whole Milk. I love that the next evening I get to drive to JFK airport and pick up my most beloved dog and together we will be the Campbell-Laroche household. I love the bitter cold weather of the snow and the way it freezes my fingertips and toes and makes me feel as if my nose will be frost bitten with each deep inhale. I love our tiny town that is one mile long and supplied with just about everything I need a town to have. I love the accent of our Albanian neighbors and the smell of Mary’s Greek food that she cooks everyday. I love that we are the only two apartments in this building above shops and I absolutely love the narrow winding roads that go in and out of the woods along the Connecticut/New York State Lines.

Love, love, love, is what I’m getting at here.
I am telling you everything I love about everything but the most important thing connected to me. And me being my soul. Because I am a soul. My body is my vessel. My body is not me. It is my armor. I never mentioned anything about loving it.

Danny and I finish dinner. We go and lay down in the bed and he puts on a movie. I am curled up awkwardly and thirty minutes go by and suddenly…. I can’t breathe.
With every fiber of my being I CANNOT BREATHE. I began to panic and Danny’s eyes open up wide in terror as he begs me, “Ash what’s wrong??? What’s happening??” I’m gripping my lower abdomen and crying my eyes out telling him I have no idea what’s going on. I can’t stand up straight. It feels like knives and needles are stabbing me and gutting open my insides. Talons are wrenching open every muscle fiber and every connective tissue that is supposed to protect my insides. My uterus is cramping so hard; I have never felt this pain before. I am inexperienced with menstrual cramps because I can count on less than one full hand the amount of times I have had menstrual cramps. And when I have experienced menstrual cramps, all it took was a banana and a 30 minute nap on my stomach to relieve the irritation of the unnecessary process of my monthly due. This was an omen. This was something so foreign and unnatural, I felt like I was releasing something evil through the work of Exorcism that Jayme and I had preformed on people. Their violent screams and gritting teeth. I was feeling this pain.

Danny told me he was taking me to the hospital and I immediately objected. I figured, “Whatever this is, I will sleep this off. Please just get me a hot towel and help me lie down on my back.” He got me what I asked for and told me that I can’t use a home remedy for something that I have never experienced before. Given, that I beg to differ, as I study natural medicine and home remedies for everything, I knew he was right. I had NO idea what was happening and my body was sweating profusely, my adrenaline was pumping. I couldn’t be still long enough to listen to my body. Danny set the timer on his phone for five minutes and I compromised with him that at the end of five minutes, if my pain wasn’t lessened, he was taking me to the Emergency Room.

All I could think about was trying to get my breath slower so I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital on my first night moving to New York. I didn’t know what to think. I knew I would refuse medicine if they tried to give it to me. I didn’t want any drugs in my body and I certainly didn’t want to spend the night in the hospital. And my mom. Last thing I needed was to have my mom stressing out that her youngest daughter, who is prone to developing the most odd of injuries always coming out of thin air that are rare and damaging, be in a hospital in New York her first night moving to New York.

Five minutes was up.

I tried my best to smile and tell Danny my pain was better. He told me to get off the bed. I rolled my eyes and reluctantly started to move. It didn’t take but a couple of seconds before I was clenching my jaw so tight to keep from screaming in pain. Emergency Room is was. I gave in the towel and grabbed my insurance card and he hauled me to the car and we drove to the Northern Westchester Hospital Emergency Room.

A nurse awakened me in the waiting room and walked me back to the room. It was no dream….. I was really there. Danny looked sad from not being able to know what to do to help my pain. I looked at him with sad eyes, feeling like a burden because of my pain. I was wheeled off to another wing of the hospital to get scanned; finding out the omen was a ruptured cyst.

A ruptured cyst.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Or my eyes, when I looked at the ultrasound images in the small dark room, with a very comforting and friendly nurse who I could tell was probably a phenomenal and adorable grandmother to some kids out there in the World. She explained to me that the black blob was free floating fluid outside of my uterus. It would take a few days, maybe a week, for it to exit my body entirely. She was unable to give me a gauge of what my pain would be like, if any.

I just sat..stunned. Flashbacks of horrific memories began flooding my mind and in my heart of hearts, I knew how I had developed this cyst. Given the duration of time, it only makes sense that it would have to burst at some point in time. It made sense to me how it developed. And I couldn’t help but shake my head in deep, deep sorrow as I cursed myself for not realizing what the pain all those months and almost a year before was. For never getting it checked out. I assumed it was one thing entirely natural and instead, it was indeed, the cyst itself, forming and gathering particles until it ceased to grow anymore until there was no other way out other than explosion.

I accepted the news.
They discharged me and told me I could buy Motrin for pain if I felt like I needed it. Otherwise, I should take it easy and avoid vigorous workouts.

When Danny left for Manchester the morning of the 5th, I cried and cried and cried.
I went to the bathroom and held my stomach and looked in the mirror.

And that’s when I realized…..

I had forgotten to truly love my body.

I had spent so much time, for YEARS, including that day, gawking at everyone and everything around me and above me. I expressed love for people, places, and things. I expressed love to myself but never, not once, did I take the consideration to express love; real love; to my vessel. My mortal packaging of bones, tissues, veins, muscles, and organs. My beating heart that worked hard day in and day out to provide the clean blood to pump through my body and feed every square millimeter of my body.

I held my abdomen as I looked into my eyes in the mirror and cried and told my body “I am so sorry for the pain I have caused you over the years. For the impurities I have allowed to soak you down in and the beatings I allowed you to take. Please forgive me for the times I have starved you from real nutrients and water, drying you out. Of course you would begin to give up on me! I don’t blame you. My sweet body…. I love you so much. My beautiful vessel that carries me with these mortal feet, wherever I want to go; every single day of my life. My hands that write and type until my beautiful eyes beg me to shut. They never fight me. You allow me to overwork you and underfeed you and push you to your limits everyday without the amount of rest you deserve. You have sacrificed so much of your energy for me so I can selfishly live how I want to live and I think because you are my body and my mind tells me it’s okay that it is okay. I am so sorry vessel. I am so sorry for the torturous things I have put you through and I beg of your forgiveness. I express all my gratitude to you now and forever. I express my love to you endlessly, for without you, I would not be this being.” I began to specifically touch each individual organ and tell it how much I love it and thanked it specifically for the unique work it does for my body to retain power and strength, giving me another moment inside my own handpicked body. I began to revel in my love for my body and began to have conversations with my body I had never thought to have before. My body began to tell me things it has held onto for so many years. We talked, we laughed, we cried together; my body and I.

And together, we let go.

I promised to myself and my body from that moment forward, I would always remember to give my love and gratitude back to it. I promised to always take care of it. I promised to always listen deeply to it and never take for granted what it has to tell me. I promised to trust my body with its communication.

Just like our friendships, work relationships, romantic partnerships, and family ties that require love and attention and effort. Our body and our souls are tied together in their very own relationship. One that we too often take for granted.

We are not our bodies.

And when we die, our bodies are not ours to keep. Our bodies do not follow us wherever we go because our soul is timeless. Our soul is not kept inside our body because our body is a costume that merely contains our soul which is in fact our life form. Our body is there for us immortal souls to operate and function in a mortal World.

Among every relationship you have in your life; don’t forget the relationship you have with your body. Take the time to touch it, talk to it, listen to it. It is what carries you. It is what saves you. It is your protection. Your very resource for movement alone. And without it, you are imprisoned in a case that will only release you when it finally gives up. So, I say again with as much encouragement as I can muster………..

Love the World around you. Love the ups and downs that come your way. Love the people, places, and things that come in and out of your life. Share your stories and memories and make things happen.

And most importantly, LOVE THY BODY.
The very unique, exquisite, and beautiful threshold that you reside in.
Your ultimate home.

Love it with your full soul and heart and it will love you back. And together, may you both live in this Mortal life, happy, healthy, and prosperous.

 
Amen.