A Woman and Her Body
August 24, 2008
I had my annual mammogram the other day. At sign-in time, they gave me a sheet to fill out about my breast history. I remembered that in 1988 I had a benign cyst removed from my left breast. I forgot that in 2004 I had a breast cyst aspiration in my right breast; but that was okay, since the surgeon, unbeknownst to me, left a small marker in the breast for future technicians to find, note and ask clueless patients about. Last year, when I went for another check-up, the doctor was looking around for my left ovary, but it wasn’t there. It took me a few minutes to remember that my left ovary had been removed [that same memorable summer when the breast cyst was aspired (?)].
I am relieved that I can be so unaware of my body, since, in general, I am in good health. But is it really good to be so un-in-tune with my body? Is that maybe a problem in the making or is it the reason why I have let myself gain weight and barely exercise? Why is it that I focus so intently on my thoughts, and, yes, my feelings, but not on my body? Why do I have this mind-body separation? I focus so intently on following the path of words on paper but not on the movement of my feet on pavement. I’m beginning to realize that it is unhealthy—to my mind and body—to think that my mind is more important than my body.
Is this some kind of superiority thing? Well, yes. You can either focus on your mind or on your body (and we know where the smart people fall). But is that really right? After all, when I’m not feeling well physically, my mind just isn’t there. So why do I think that my body doesn’t need to be there with my mind? Don’t I feel stronger mentally when I have tended to my physical self? After a shower it is not just my body that feels clean and smells like lavender, it is my whole essence: I am lavender. Isn’t that unified mind and body experience something I should try to recreate for more than ten minutes a day while I am draped in a towel?
And why do I think that body-time is wasted time? Wouldn’t it be better to view it as warm-up time? Or dust-the-mind time? Or even airing-out time? Why am I so stuck in perceiving my body as a shadow of my real self? What am I if not the curly-haired woman who calls out one-liners in the middle of meetings when everyone else is quiet. I am not one without the other, so why don’t I respect one as much as I respect the other?
Perhaps this hearkens back to school (I mean in the bad old days when I was the student and not now, when I am the bad, old teacher) and the fact that I was not competitive and not successful in sports. (Not that there was much to succeed in or fail in during the pre-Title IX days. In those days, the only sport for girls at my high school was tennis, and I was too hurt to stay on the team after I was assigned to be an alternate in doubles, never mind that my serve was non-existent.)
At this point in my life, maybe I should dust off my understanding of the division of the world between the jocks and the brains, and let myself sidle over to the other side, at least a little bit.
Oh, the nurse called from my gynecologist’s office to say that there was an abnormality in my pap smear. Somehow I remembered that last year some wrong cells had ended up in my cervix and had her refer back to the chart, and told her that it was double-checked and all was fine then. “Yes,” she said, “I see, but you still need to come in for an endometrial biopsy, it’s been a year.” So the breasts being smooshed turned out okay, but the q-tip inserted into my cervix was not. There’s always something to worry about. Maybe I should think about it during a vigorous walk.
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It's that old balance thing again! But I also think to err on the mind rather than the body is a more lofty imbalance. The body-obsessed rarely impress me.
Posted by: April | August 24, 2008 at 01:16 PM
I've been erring on the side of mind to such a degree that the notice from the doctor had EXERCISE circled two times.
Leap to on-line dating scene: I totally ignore the guys who in their first sentence mention that they go to the gym at least 5 times a week. Would there be something left to talk about other than their pumping capacity?
Posted by: Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman | August 24, 2008 at 06:51 PM