Body as Lived Experience

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I've been thinking about my parents a great deal.

In part because I am delving into the worlds of monsters for young children. This leads me to reflect on the monsters of my childhood - some of my monsters lived in my house, after all.

However, what I have been thinking about is the role of the Body. Body as Sensory Experience. Body as Lived Experience. Denial of the Body and the Consequences of that Action.

Since part of the tenet of my ( and Maija's) Monster paper revolves around the Sensory experience of Monsters in the lives of young children ( and later in that of young adult readers) I have had to consider the feelings of the Body as Prime Experience. Which makes complete and utter sense, right?

For young children, Body is everything. There is no facet of life that they do not first filter through the lens of their bodily experience. Until we socialize this out of them, of by age 7 we have them pretty well under wraps ( which is when many monsters start to recede) until their bodies betray them at Puberty, and we see the explosion of Horror/Vampire/Gore consumption.

It was in this mindset that I grabbed the book "The Body Never Lies" by Alice Miller from my bookshelf. Alice is a German psychologist who also wrote "The Drama of the Gifted Child" - which deals with children who have survived Narcissist Mothers.  I bought these books about three years ago and after reading "Drama",  my interest waned.

However, in my thinking about the Body, this title intrigued me. I grabbed it off the shelf and began to read.

Now, some of what she claims is bullshit. People miraculously reversing serious health disorders overnight after realizing and naming that they were seriously pissed at their Parents for abuse/neglect etc. I can't even start to entertain those claims as my rational mind rejects them.

However, some of what she says is intriguingly spot on..... particularly about our bodies forcing truth out. Particularly if we continue to engage with  our Parents, even as that relationship is poisoning us. As we defend and rationalize our lived experiences, regardless of hurt. Our bodies scream at us with the truth.

I certainly know this from experience. When I ignore my feelings, my body takes the punishment. Perhaps not right away, but it does.  Headaches. Stomach issues. Panic Attacks. Losing feeling on the Right Side of my body?  Um, yeah.  All expressions of emotions and experiences I attempted to bottle up. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

Sandra, the therapist who diagnosed my post-partum depression once asked me - quite seriously - if I was prepared to deal with one of the auto-immune diseases I was headed towards. "Take your pick", she said, "Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue? Your cortisol levels are killing you. and your immune system will turn against you soon."

Miller's other point is the occasional necessity of breaking with your Parents if the relationship will never change.

I miss my Mom. I can't lie about it. There are times when I long to re-connect with her, to crawl under a wing. Yet, I know without a doubt that she has not changed in the least, and never will.  I know that a reconciliation will come at an unbearably high cost for me.  That this cost will eventually be at the expense of my own daughter, for whom I am trying to be a centred and honest adult.

It is THAT which keeps me from walking through my mother's proverbial front door. I can't deny anything anymore, nor can I simply pretend that nothing has happened, or that I agree with any of the crazy shit she spews - which is, of course, the price of admission for my mother's good graces and conditional love. Deceit.

My body is my lived experience, and it will simply no longer tolerate deceit.

2 Baleful Regards:

madge said...

I miss mine too. Even in spite of everything.

It takes sheer force of will and self-preservation not to reach out to her. My rational mind knows that, like yours, mine has not and will not change.

Where is our support group? Some days I could really use a meeting.

Dawn said...

I know madge, I do. I spent a whole therapy session today on this, and it looks like I need to detangle some more before it is going to feel better.

Sometimes you just want to feel like someone's Child, with a Mother like Max's who loves you and has dinner waiting for you when you return from being a wild thing.

Yet for people as we, with mothers like ours? Never going to happen, and the attempt to re-connect in the naive hope that it could?

It will most likely kill us in the long run. But the longing never goes away.

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