Mary is a woman who has lived at quite a pace for some time. The ‘go-go-go’ sports mode lifestyle has been her normal and it wasn’t until she nearly wet herself because she had ignored her need to go to the toilet just once too often, that she chose to listen to her body and recognise that her ‘go-go-go’ lifestyle was not just impacting her physical and mental health but also that of those around her. Just like when you go to the gym and put yourself on a program, Mary was on a 3-day self-care program of noticing what her body was communicating to her. She had tried this once before and only made one morning, so she was very keen to complete the 3 days. There is so much for us all to relate to in Mary's story.
The first time I clocked the communication from my body, was when I realised I was busting to go to the bathroom at work. I had held on so I could ‘just finish this urgent thing’ I had to get done. I am known as a highly efficient person, if you want a job done, give it to someone who is busy right? Well, I was that person, who knows if what I had to do was actually urgent, but my body communicating to me that it needed to go to the loo was definitely urgent!
To get to the bathroom, I have to walk down a corridor, through a few doors and into the cubicle. This morning, I was aware of how I walked down the hall and past all the desks I passed along the way. It was like I could feel the wave of urgency I was washing over everyone on the way and was picturing papers flying off people’s desks behind me, (thankfully only a picture in my head). I was aware of how I banged my way through the doors and how I slammed the cubicle door open then shut it, how I slammed back the loo seat and pulled my trousers and undies down just in time to collapse onto the seat and relieve my, now about to explode, bladder. Even my pee was noisy.
As I sat there, I thought, that was absurd, and questioned if any of that needed to be that noisy and dramatic. My, at least honest answer, was no. I had been like a tornado because I had not noticed that I needed to go a long time before and had not listened to my body till I was at critical bladder explode stage. There was a moment of shame and a feeling I had failed on 'morning one' of 'day one', till I realised that it was the gift I had been asking for.
This is what I wanted to see and it was a real gift. So, what was I going to do with that gift? React, dig myself into a pit of shame, indulge, wallow in it, then spend the rest of the day digging myself out of it? Or, would I respond to what I was now seeing and simply change my movements?
I decided on the latter. I decided to slow everything down. The fact remained that everything on my desk was still urgent and my ‘go-go-go- head' told me I really didn’t have time for this nonsense. But I was on a self-care program, so I was going to take a moment of pause and the consequences would be what they would be.
I went into ‘movie-rewind’. I stood up gently – NOT slowly! (a very big difference by the way). I flushed the toilet with my body and my brain in the same place doing the same thing, but as I went to reach for the door, I could feel that my head and thoughts were already out of the door and rushing back to my desk. My hand clanged on the door lock. I stopped, I had lost that sense of presence in the moment. Every time I allowed myself to think ahead of the present moment, I brought myself back.
It was the MOST wonderful and life-changing moment and it happened in a toilet! I don’t know how long it took me to leave the bathroom, but I do know that the people whose desks I passed – who would have experienced a mini-tornado as I walked past before, now felt something very different. I felt I was clearing up the remnants of the mini-tornado that had walked past their desks.
Oddly enough, I did my work in record time and left for home on time that day. I played and laughed with the kids and we all got the house a bit more ordered for when my partner got home from work. It was a very different feeling for everyone in the house that night.
After this profound experience, I have continued with this self-care program that is becoming more a way of life than a program. There are many 'mini-tornado' moments that actually turn out to be very funny when you see them all as learning moments.
I am learning not to curse myself by saying ‘I am a seasoned go-go-goer’, or ‘I am a recovering go-go-goer’ because that reduces me to something I am not. It was just a momentum I got into and let run me into the go-go-go behaviour, it certainly doesn't define me or who I am.