Sat with Nat

Exercise and Staying in my Body

A broad stairwell, like the kind you find at major metropolitan train or subway stations, is filled with people walking up and down the stairs. The people are blurry, imperfectly captured in motion.
Life can get a bit blurry for me sometimes

I am standing in the stairwell trying to go down to my Tuesday afternoon exercise class. The world shifts to the right as I drift just left of my body. It’s disorienting and dizzying. My feet can’t seem to move and, from my slightly off to the side view, it’s very hard to tell how far down to step. 

I step back on the landing, cross my arms and rub my triceps and biceps.  I am back in my body. I am tired and stressed after a very difficult 7 days. I’m emotionally tapped out and the numbness of leaving my body doesn’t feel terribly bad. 

I realize I’m dissociating, for brief moments, and it is coming on more frequently. I never knew it had a name, this mental holiday that is fraught with a peril therapists understand but I don’t. I’ve always felt numb during or after bad times. I thought everyone did. 

So I am at the top of the stairs, dizzy, knowing this pause is making me late. I keep rubbing my arms and squeezing the muscles. I am here. I want to be here. The numbness passes and I shakily make it down, one step at a time. 

By the time I walk through the gym studio door I’m at full brave face, laughing, hip thrusting and joking the core muscle class is secretly designed to up my power-bottoming game. 

I know most of the folks in the class. Lovely, sparkly humans who are kind and encouraging  to me always. The music starts and the worries fall away as I listen to the rapid-fire-flirty-funny instructor lead my body through a sweaty thirty minutes. I am in my body and it feels good. I feel strong. I feel capable. 

The next day I run with Anthony. Neither of us is feeling 100% but we are there, exercising to keep our minds and bodies ok. 

On Thursday I am stiff and sore. The discomfort keeps me in the moment and I am ok. I am present. I’m choosing to stay here and deal with my life. 

I’m so thankful for movement keeping me in my body. I feel the hugs, fist bumps and pats on the back as my support network ramps up the love. 

I used to think exercise was about running away from my problems. Now I’m exercising to deal with my life, to be present as healthily as I can be. 

10 thoughts on “Exercise and Staying in my Body

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I think we all have those moments of dissociating from ourselves. Have you ever tried slowing down and taking a restorative yoga class when you feel like this? It can be grounding and centering.

  2. … exercise never helped it for me. I don’t know what to do that helps. Sometimes I dissociate when exercising and it’s like I feel no pain or exhaustion and just keep going like a robot. but sometimes exercise works just like you said. Those are nice times.

  3. Thanks so much for the post. I feel you. My body, frankly, feels like crap a good bit of the time these days, and I spend a lot of emotional energy either trying to deny it, castigating myself for feeling that way, or trying to push through it. For me right now, yoga is an activity where I feel strong and flexible and centered and in touch with myself. Glad you are feeling supported and happy with your class buddies. It made me smile to read it!

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