Thursday 3 May 2012

Stories told in the body

It’s been a strange week.  A lot of sadness, a fair amount of anger, a few laughs, many tears, and a few moments that were totally madly surreal. 

I clocked up a few firsts this week, like doing push-ups and shuttle runs in church, having my arse appear in the media (twice on one page), sharing a bath with a photographer on a ladder  and giving Liz Jones feature ideas. 

But above all, one encounter stuck in my mind.  Yesterday I drove down to Minehead to the college.  The omens weren’t good.  Solitary magpies kept flying across my path and my head jumped into my mouth (interesting typo there) when a blackbird (male) suddenly flew right out and under the car, like he was hurling himself into oblivion.

I couldn’t really afford a makeover (even at the college’s crazy low prices) but I figured what the hell? I’m off to London for a week and I don’t want to scare the horses.  So I looked at Visa, raised my (unshapely shaggy) eyebrow and said ‘You up for it?’ And Visa winked.  So lovely Charlotte gave me a facial and a massage and then we howled with laughter as she rolled up her sleeves and attacked my bodily hair.
‘I’ve become obsessed with my right armpit,’ I told her. ‘I mean, look at it! The photographer yesterday said you’d have to trim it before you waxed it.’
‘Actually, I think I might,’ she said, with awe.  ‘That’s a first. Unless you want it plaited of course.’
‘With beads?’ I said with a grin. Then sighed. ‘Honestly, I don’t care. I’m in your hands – do with me as you wish!’  Her eyes gleamed. The little sadist.

But then, funny thing.  They had to switch people around and it transpired someone else was going to do my tinting and manicure.  And this ghost came in and started silently fixing my eyelashes. And my antennae went up; there was something there.  At first I thought it was typical teenage ‘can’t be arsedness’ but then I stopped thinking and started feeling – and the feeling was utter total desolation, way beyond sadness.
When we moved from the couch to a table for her to fix my manky hands, I got to look at her and she was the most beautiful girl ever. A pure pixie with a heart-shaped face, almond eyes and a short dark crop.  ‘I like your hair,’ I said softly, to break the silence. ‘I used to have mine like that when I was young.’ 
‘Well, it’s easy,’ she shrugged.   Oh, that sadness again.  Waves of it.  The ‘I don’t care about no nothing’ feeling. I resolved to ask Charlotte about her story when I saw her next – because there was a story, I just knew it.

But I didn’t need to.  ‘Do you think stress and sadness can cause physical illness?’ she said quietly after a while.  And slowly, so slowly, it came out.  Her father had died a few months ago.  And she was in the dark dark place.  The angry and sad and hurting place.  One I know all too well.  So I listened.  And listened.  And listened.
She said she didn’t talk about it.  Just tried not to think.  But that her body was shouting and screaming – in a million and one ways.  I didn’t tell her what to do – how could I?  But it seemed to me that she came to a fair few conclusions of her own during our hour together.  

No big farewell. No demonstrative hugs. Just a quick shy look. But she touched me. And, who knows, maybe I touched her.  


Zoë said...

If stress and sadness can cause physical illness, then I think I am the walking exemplar of it.

I know one of the factors in increasing your risk of cancer is stress.

I know sadness is stressful, it takes you all your time an energy to put a brave face on the world and carry on like nothing is wrong.

I think I may have suggested speaking to an organisation like Cruse but then I am always blundering in uninvited.

Exmoorjane said...

@Zoe - Absolutely mind affects body. And yes, I'm a huge believer in better out than in when it comes to emotion. Repressed emotion can, IMO, be a killer. :(
She said she'd been offered counselling - and I think she may consider it now (just hope the counsellor is alright - some are fab, some are crap). Said she wanted to do yoga too. And have some bodywork. :)

Dump Him Love said...

what a sad story Jane but how wonderful she felt able to share with you. I do hope her experience with you prompts her to go on and find someone else to listen to her

Anonymous said...

Heart breaking, heart broken.
My mentor told me once his heart disease came in the wake of the break up of his 27 year marriage.
he's one of the wisest most humane people I know, but it broke him.
I shall pray for that pixy faced girl.

Tattieweasle said...

Oh God yes they an and do. I am learning very slowly because I am very slow at these sort of things that I have toalign body and soul and the soul takes up way more space than I thought - if that makes sense.
I fear we do not look after our souls properly it's not a case of guiving into wants it is about feeding it correctly and that is an art I am only just beginning to understand!

busana muslim murah said...

Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful

Rachel Selby said...

Something about you made her open up to you and tell her story. I bet that happens to you a lot. There was no way she could have known holistic healing stuff is your thing except if your body gives off some sort of vibe. Interesting, no?

Frith said...

I imagine the pixie faced girl felt lighter after talking to you - perhaps enough that she realized the benefit of counseling. To lose a parent when young - that's a terrible blow and burden.

Tony L said...

That's very moving. Thanks for sharing, and for caring. yes, thought has an impact on the body...for good as well as for ill. I have found spiritual insights the best curative thoughts. Hope she finds that kind of a connection for herself. All the best.

Ashen said...

The poetry of this event is - you opened your heart.

Alison@Brocantehome said...

You know what? I do believe there are people on this planet who others instinctively trust to open up to. Often much to their surprise and relief. You were that gift for that little sad pixie...

Rob-bear said...

"Do you think stress and sadness can cause physical illness?" Absolutely. There is all kinds of medial research to support that. A emotional "broken heart" is a heart which in not functioning right — the latest piece I saw.

So wonderful that you listened to her. Just listening helps people.

Blessings and Bear hugs.

Ivy said...

Did she know who you are? probably not and still she felt you were the one to talk to. Sad story but Jane it was a compliment, a rather big one.

Alison Cross said...

How wonderful that she opened up to you in this way - what she needed.

I hope that by talking to you she begins to heal.

Ali x

Ross Mountney said...

Lovely story and nice to find your blog and your writing. Best wishes.

Pondside said...

No doubt. I believe that what goes into my head, whirls around in my subconscious, affects my body greatly. I used to get angry, as a teen, when my mother would say 'think about something nice, and you'll feel better'. Well, she was right, because on a bad day I can think of something close to my heart and feel quite a lot better.