I had a heart attack last October. Obviously a very scary event (understatement). Since then, I’ve been bent on figuring out why. I am a WHY person. I want to figure out why, seek to remedy the problem and move on with my life. I understand that I may never know why it happened; however, this does not stop me.
A week after the event, I jokingly said my theme song is now Listen to Your Heart by Roxette. I began to notice that other women who’d had a similar event (SCAD), had eerily similar circumstances leading up to the heart attack. Basically, deep emotional stress from relational issues. This describes 2018 in a nutshell, minus the cursing.
What struck me is that while I knew it was a deeply painful year, I never felt particularly stressed. I processed my grief, anger and loss to the best of my ability, I practiced Sabbath regularly, I journaled the BLEEP out of the year, worked on my codependency and leaned on the amazing faithfulness of the Lord and my awesome community. Yet, my body definitely knew I was under stress.
Not long ago, I read an amazing book called When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté. My basic takeaway is humans often repress emotions, particularly anger. Repressing emotions wreaks havoc on our physiology and can cause disease. It takes a toll. I started paying attention. I started listening; mainly to my body, my heart, my intuition, my spirit, my stress level.
Two quick testimonies: just this morning, I felt stress bubbling up inside me. I took a moment and just noticed the feeling. I then put my hand on where I felt the stress and spoke reassuringly to myself. “I am listening. I understand you are stressed. I hear you. I will take care of you.” Voila! In a matter of minutes, I felt the stress subside.
Another testimony is that when I start getting sick, I immediately get a sore throat. I then go into FIGHT mode to try and beat it. I usually fail, am sick for a week or more and generally feel angry with myself for having the audacity to get sick. Recently, I felt a sore throat coming on. I heard a still, small voice say “STRESS”. Aha! I listened. I once again took a moment to listen to my throat telling me my body is stressed. I spoke gently to my throat. I rested. None of my usual gyrations because I suddenly realized all my gyrations made the sore throat worse! Guess what? I’ve beaten sickness four different times, just by listening and attending to my body. It really really works, people.
Slowly, I am recovering the art of listening. Listening to my body, my mind, my spirit, my emotions, my heart and my intuition. They communicate! It’s such a beautiful thing.