Saturday, March 14, 2009

unsmelling and unknowing - body awareness thoughts

I lost my sense of smell sometime in my twenties; 99% of the time, I smell nothing at all, even when an odor is overpowering everyone else in the room. Occasionally I get a few seconds of that sense back, and I absolutely relish it. It behaves weirdly in those times; one time at a Pampered Chef party, I was busy gleefully breathing in the aroma of bell pepper filled with salsa (absolutely delicious) while everyone else in the room was choking on the simultaneous stench of burnt chocolate.

The point of the above paragraph is that I lost my sense of smell "sometime in my twenties." I don't know when - that's how bad my level of body awareness has been in my adult life. Other people notice when their skin is dry, when their lips are chapped, which foods cause unwelcome reactions in their bodies...but from sometime in my twenties until just the past couple of years, I had pretty much no awareness of these things. The first I became really aware of this was maybe four years ago, when I started to notice that I would sit or lay (or is it lie? who cares...) in a truly uncomfortable position without even noticing my own discomfort for a very long time. It was "new" to me to feel that my neck didn't like how fat the pillow was and was developing a crick.

These days I am becoming increasingly aware of how my body feels and how it works. I suppose that I stopped listening to it along about the time I passed some magic line on the scale - it was probably a hate reaction. I don't "know" this, but I think I'm probably right about that reason.

I am greatly encouraged that these days I notice stuff that is second nature for others to know about their bodies, like when my skin wants lotion or when my body is protesting something I've done. I suspect this is part of the long journey God has taken me on, away from self-loathing and toward seeing myself through His merciful and loving eyes.

When I was in high school, we had a college student aide for awhile in my social studies class. She was very overweight, and I was entirely too aware of that. I recall staring her up and down daily and asking myself why she hadn't noticed she was getting fat and stopped it before it happened. I was one unmerciful little snot in my insecurity (recall that I already thought I was an Enormous Cow by then in all of my size 10 glory).

I've thought more than once that my weight issues were at least in part a punishment for how horrible I silently was to her at that time (I still feel so apologetic every time I think of her, and I DO think of her).

But the point of this little ponder is that I ended up much heavier than she was, and a lot of that happened because I simply stopped really hearing from my body at all. Countless times over the years, I have been shocked when I've caught myself in the mirror or seen a picture of myself - something in me has said, "hey, when did THAT happen?"

Body awareness can go too far, I am sure. But ability to hear what one's body is saying, I think, is one of the keys to not landing in the I-need-to-lose-100-pounds place.

So maybe I am finally finding my escape.

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