Friend or Foe? Finding Peace with a Body at War
I was nine years old when I first discovered that a “young and healthy” body could suddenly betray you. It was as I watched my Father leave our house, for what would be the last time, struggling to breathe. He died unexpectedly, due to complications from a rare syndrome that attacked his lungs. Years later as a teenager, I would discover an all too familiar betrayal – a war being waged in my own body. A complex interplay of auto-immune diseases which would take many years to properly diagnose, treat, and understand. It’s a very bizarre feeling, the sense that your body is at odds with itself. For so long, that is the only way I experienced it. I was struggling to love my body (which was already extremely difficult, for various other reasons… that’s for another blog!) while at the same time hating my body for what it was “doing to me”. Pain, fatigue, anxiety, cognitive challenges – and the list goes on. Finally, in my mid-thirties, an extraordinary thing happened that would shake up my life and perspectives in the most beautiful way. I was introduced to something called Integrated Movement Therapy (IMT) by the founders of Unfold. Frustrated with many negative experiences I had in clinical settings, it was refreshing to experience a framework that offered me opportunities to connect deeply to myself and others on multiple levels, in a holistic and therapeutic way. As I learned from IMT founder Molly Kenny, IMT is not something you do, it’s who you are and how you relate to yourself, others, and the world. And so, I immersed myself in studying IMT, eventually becoming a certified IMT practitioner in August of 2019. Over time, IMT helped me to hold many complex truths, including this: My confused immune system is attempting to keep me safe from what it perceives as invaders. At the same time my body is attacking itself, it is also trying to protect me, in its own imperfect way. What a revelation! IMT teaches that our healing potential as human beings is unlimited. This has allowed me to access feelings of acceptance and peace with my body, and also to process the trauma of my Father’s death. Both are lifelong journeys with no discernible end point. But that feels ok, because now I know that my potential… your potential… our potential for healing is limitless.
To learn more about Integrated Movement Therapy at Unfold, visit unfoldportland.com/imt. If you are living with chronic illness, you can find out more about Bonny's series, Accessing Resilience: Living Well with Chronic Illness, here: unfoldportland.com/series-classes