As I laid in a hospital bed recovering from an emergency surgery, knowing that they had removed 3 kg of flesh, I started to wonder about how I had lived so long with this. I had effectively just given birth surgically to a healthy-sized tumor baby. For at least two years, more than twice the normal length of human pregnancy, my organs had become crowded and squished by the greedy, multifarious smooth-muscle masses. My sex life had become a series of adjustments to avoid penetration-induced discomfort. My periods were regular but heavy and painful. My belly continued to balloon.
And in spite of all that, I carried on.
A testament to how amazing my body is, yes.
But also evidence showing how we can live long time with a constant, and increasing, level of pain.
When we live with pain in our lives, not the type that ebbs and flows, but the type that stays with us, day in and day out, never causing too much strife, staying below the level of intolerable, we learn how to make it normal. We stop sensing the danger that it indicates because it hasn’t really inconvenienced us just yet.
And even sometimes when we get a spike in that pain, when it temporarily crosses over into “ohf*ckthathurtslikehellwhatiswrongwithme?!”, we can still keep ignoring it. Why? Because if it’s acute, it comes in, stabs you, and leaves quietly, we tend to use that experience to reset our normal just a bit higher.
For me, the thing that makes this phenomenon most interesting is that it is not exclusive to physical pain.
We use this same mechanism for emotional pain as well.
Think back to your younger days, when maybe you started putting on the extra pounds and the other kids (or teenagers, or adults) started noticing and poking fun at you. Remember how raw you felt? How badly it hurt?
And if you’re like me, and have not succeeded in achieving the societal ideal of physical beauty, you’ve learned to let the basic stuff roll off and really only get hurt when your defenses are down. Or when they hit you in your tender place.
You see, we’re not as sensitive to this pain as we once were because our experiences have led us to raise that pain tolerance bar in relation to our fat. Sometimes it’s called being “thick-skinned” or “bullet proof” or simply just “tough.”
But I’m here to offer you an alternative. A kind of surgical birth of your own, where you can give up your own pain-causing passengers. I’m inviting you to spend 30 days with me, having a conversation about how and why you’re feeling the way you do about your body. It’s free of charge for the first 5 people, and spots are filling up. Together, we will work through the skin-thickening by helping you reframe your own negative feelings about yourself.