If We Are To Live Free: Searching For Liberty In My Body

3-minute read

So try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity. Take up the battle. Take it up. It’s yours.
— Dr. Maya Angelou

I have to actively tell myself that it's OK not to hold my body in uncomfortable positions.  I have to unclench my fingers and my jaw.  I have to rebuke myself for apologizing for my existence from time to time.  I am unlearning discomfort in my body as a norm.  

Too many of us have been taught to take up the least amount of space and we've gotten used to being both physically and emotionally uncomfortable.  We have been taught that to be timid and barely there is agreeable and acceptable.  I have gotten so used to it that I have to remind myself to be whole and comfortable and here, in this space, whatever space I'm in.

I have to actively remind myself to breathe and to unfold and to share my gifts with the world.  I have to affirm the fact that I have purpose and something to offer.  I have to shake childhood fears and move myself mentally and physically.  I have to remember to stretch my clenched jaw or allow my body full use of the chair I'm sitting on, instead of relegating myself to a corner of it.  I have to work up the nerve to click 'Send' on threads of soul-baring tweets.  I have to mentally cheer myself on to speak up and out.  I have to remember to forget the strict confines of my childhood and unbridle my tongue here and now.

Living most of my life in discomfort, I didn't know I had another option.  Discomfort was my normal.  My discomfort, I believed, made me pleasing in some way, shape, or form to others.  I was to be seen - but barely - and not heard.  But how I longed to bust a seam and break loose.  I lived in a bubble of anxiety, managing others' reactions to me more than exploring my place in the world.

Slowly but surely I've started to learn all the ways in which my body speaks to me and how to respond lovingly.  My belly used to twist itself and send pangs of worry through every blood vessel. Slow, deep breaths for that.  Lately, my jaw clenches tightly to the point of pain.  I stretch my jaw, my hands, my legs, my arms and get as still as possible for that. Anxiety is debilitating but learning to recognize it, where it's stemming from and how to respond is where freedom lives.  There are remedies and they are as simple as a slow, deep breath.

It's ok to listen to myself, to notice my body's signals and to change my way of being.  I don't have to contort my mind, body, or spirit into compromising positions to be acceptable.  I can accept the affirmation of others who see my strength, acknowledge my creativity, allow my weakness, and grow from my gifts.

Sometimes we're too busy performing wholeness to realize we aren't actually whole or at liberty in our own minds and bodies.  Nothing about humanity should be shackled.  We should be free to take up the space we need in order to breathe, to laugh, to make mistakes, to learn, to expand and evolve.  We have that permission by simply but beautifully existing in this world.