The Stories Our Bodies Tell

Diana - Boulder, Colorado
Entered on April 7, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

The Stories Our Bodies Tell

Years ago I was doing a massage trade with a fellow massage therapist. It was my turn to receive! And it was a hot summer’s day in Boulder, Colorado. We were using my home office which had no air conditioning but what’s a little exchanged sweat between friends?

As my friend Lyn began massaging my neck which had a history of always locking up and holding enormous amounts of tension I had the unusual experience of losing control of my arms. I mean they just started trembling and flapping about on the table like they had a mind and dance of their own.

Lyn asked me “What’s going on with that?” and I responded, “I have no idea, I’m not even making it happen.” And we proceeded with the massage as any truth seekers would curious and slightly mesmerized by what my body was doing.

Before we knew it I started to get goose bumps all over my body. I was instantly freezing cold—even on this 90 degree day in Colorado. And as I focused on breathing through the work and giving my body permission to shake with flailing arms I had this image behind my eyelids of being 10 years old and playing stick ball with my father. It was like watching a movie from my pre-teen years and I could even see the color of the shirt I was wearing. Mustard yellow!

As the movie played out I saw my father throwing me a pitch. The pitch was high and inside and faster than hell. The next thing I knew the ball hit the left side of my neck. I never had a chance to move out of the line of fire.

My father raced off the pitching mound of the field as I dropped my bat, (or broom stick rather as we were playing stick ball with a rubber ball.) I was so stunned by getting hit that I just froze. All I remembered thinking was “Whatever you do Diana DO NOT CRY!” I didn’t. I held strong. And I muffled every fear, thought, and emotion that came with that one pitch.

When the movie stopped playing in my mind I had this incredible revelation that my body had stored this experience for a long time now. The tears of my ten year old within came rushing out of my eyes and streamed down my face as I lay there on the massage table. Every fear and every made-up thought about what it must mean that my father hit me in the neck with the ball came bubbling up and out of me.

“Why wasn’t he more careful?”

“I thought I was his princess?”

“Maybe he’s trying to teach me a lesson about keeping up with my brothers in a man’s world”

“Did he do that on purpose?”

“Did I make him mad?”

“My own father tried to take me out!”

“It isn’t safe to be a girl”

“If I cry he’ll use that as an excuse to never let me play again”

“Why didn’t I see it coming?”

I gave myself permission to see those thoughts and feel the feelings attached to them that I had locked away for so long. In doing so, my trembling arms relaxed into the table again. My body temperature rose. And my neck experienced a range of motion, flexibility, and freedom that I hadn’t known in years.

I carried around a welt on the side of my neck shaped like a Spalding ball for a couple of days after that event with my dad. It stung and ached. But the sting of that welt was slight in comparison to the thoughts and emotions I had locked inside my body. Those same thoughts became the filter in which I viewed many situations before that day on the massage table. “It isn’t safe to be a girl!” was a theme and belief I could literally superimpose onto many of life experiences.

To see those thoughts and emotions for what they are today—simply fear based thoughts, and not greater truths, has made all the difference in the way I hold myself, see others, and live my life.

I believe our bodies have amazing stories to tell, and can offer incredible advice regarding our health and emotional well-being if we only opened to experiencing its wisdom. I began a new relationship with body that day on the massage table. And for the record, it’s perfectly safe to be a girl! That’s my new story.