I can’t say how long humans have been viewing bodies as something distinctly separate from innate being (i.e. soul or spirit), but it’s safe to say it’s been a long time. And of course, being a very spiritual person myself, I’m on board with that. I know there is a me that transcends my physical form.
So here I am - there’s Me and there’s My Body. As I grow up, I notice my body doesn’t do a lot of the things I want it to. It’s not skinny like other kids, it has asthma and can’t run, it gets itchy eyes and a stuffy nose from just about everything. (Especially a kitten I had to give up because my body was allergic.) Why was this happening to me? Why was I born like this? I didn't have any answers - just bad genes, bad luck.
I was training myself to see my body as an enemy.
And hey, I don’t blame me one bit.
My body was not cooperating, and it was causing me pain. I spent my childhood, and many adult years, operating under the premise that my body was basically a jerk. I was angry. If it wasn’t going to do what I wanted, I would make it.
I starved it, took diet pills, took laxatives to purge food, smoked cigarettes (yeah, with asthma, brilliant, I know).
I was going to show My Body who was the real boss.
To cut to the chase, I beat up my body until I ended up with an autoimmune thyroid condition in my thirties.
Well, there was my stupid body, at it again!
What’s next? Why can’t it just work?
What the hell?
What I have since realized, is that this was the greatest gift my body could give me (besides two perfectly beautiful healthy children!!! The only time I had taken care of my body was during pregnancy).
What my autoimmune diagnosis caused me to learn was that I wasn’t listening to my body. Everything my body did was a response to something in my environment. Everything.
I learned that there are drivers for the types of responses your body will have, and that you can fix those drivers and stop having that response.
That is Functional Medicine.
I remember talking to a doctor, a regular primary care physician. She was pretty progressive actually, compared to others I had seen in the past, but after telling her all the diet and lifestyle interventions I had been implementing, she said, “You’re doing all the right things, but sometimes biology and genetics just win.”
Here she was, a person, I assume, who was very interested in the human body and in healing, telling me that my body is basically out to get me?
And it hit me, that is the difference between the conventional medical model (which I hear referred to as “sick care”) and the functional model: one views the body as broken (things can break out of the blue!), weak, and in need of correction, the other reveres the body’s wisdom, know it’s natural state is one of wellness, and seeks to understand the ‘why’ when signals or symptoms arise.
She’ll never know it, but I was able to reverse my condition over a period of years, to where I am no longer on thyroid medication.
How did I do it? By understanding where my body needed support (and love). I was impatiently patient, I made some missteps along the way, but healing happened and I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for the learning and understanding that came of it, because aside from feeling physically better, I feel wiser, kinder, and more at ease.
You may not have had as extreme a relationship with your body as I did – I sincerely hope not – but ask yourself, do you trust your body?
Do you feel like she has got this? Or do you fear that disease, brokenness, is inevitably lurking round the next corner? Do you resent her for being so vulnerable? Do you fight her to make her conform to what you want from her? Are you angry at her?
This is the fight you will never win.
Understanding is what ends all conflict, and it is what your body needs from you. Learning to see the power you have to influence your health will pay in dividends for the rest of your life. Can you afford to wait?