There are those times in life, when you watch the walls around you crumble and fall. Barriers and blockades, meticulously designed to protect, to conceal or to hide. Seemingly, this sort of breakdown initiates a panicked response. Our body and minds react with fear, exhilaration, anxiety of the unknown, a shred of excitement, catapulting back to fear...
The fear of being open, exposed, vulnerable, and raw.
This last week my husband Saenger and I chose to begin renovating our first house.
Crow bars and hammers in hand, I stood by as he crushed sheet rock, ripped down faux wooden paneling and peeled up linoleum flooring. The mission, was to get to the foundation, so we could assess the original structure. "The Studs". For me, as a makeup artist, foundation resonated as the primary canvas/platform from which any art form can expand.
As the old walls fell to the floor, an anxious fear kicked in from some deep place. I took a few moments to think about what I was feeling, to ask myself why I was feeling it, to just sit with it...
While looking over the layers of materials, Saenger pointed out that they were originally installed to conceal water damage, holes, erosion....and that, was the reason for the musky mold that permeated the old house. Somehow, moments after that explanation, the anxiousness within me subsided and was replaced by a more peaceful and resolved feeling. Resolved that we had a shit ton of work to do.
Somewhere along the way, previous tenants of the house decided to avoid the root problem: the water damage and erosion. Instead, they chose a temporary fix. Something to conceal and hide: something really lovely, like a 1950's poop brown linoleum wood. But years later, the root problem reemerged, a strong moldy odor that couldn't be concealed...seriously, no amount of Febreeze.
It reminds me of the work we choose to do or not do for ourselves. For our minds, our bodies, our emotions. Each of us can be likened to a house. As children our parents, family, friends and surroundings influence and help us build our foundation in this world. Some things we are just born with: We have fresh windows, clear and optimistic outlooks on life. We have sturdy new walls, stability and faith in people. New roofs, minds that are vibrant and free. Happy kitchens, open hearts and honest communication.
We slowly begin to acquire experiences. Some are warm and fuzzy, and some leave us feeling like we got a punch to the gut. Repeated exposure to negative experiences and feelings creates stress within our bodies. Stress initiates a physical response in our bodies.
Over time, without an outlet to address the root problem; we literally start to build up walls to conceal our foundation and to protect our heart.
The building material our bodies use is called fascia.
Fascia can be likened to the translucent skin that separates each sliver of an orange. It is a connective tissue that surrounds our muscles and determines our postural form. Emotions/feelings travel from our nervous system, to our muscles and lodge themselves in our fascia. Just like the orange skin, when fascia becomes "dry" it becomes rigid and stuck. Fascia becomes dry when repeated signals from our nervous system create a physical response in our muscles. Over time our fascia responds by embalming that muscular posture. However, it is possible to break these walls down, to create plasticity and fluidity in our bodies and emotions!
Huffington post just updated a fascinating article about fascia this week: Creating Change: Tom Myers on Yoga, Fascia and Mind-Body Transformation. It is incredible and will do a much better job of explaining the multi dimensional fascia! But here's a few quotes from anatomy expert, Tom Myers:
There was a time in my life of tremendous anger, grief and sadness. One friend who hadn't seen me in awhile told me my shoulders remained tense, at all times. Portraying a stressed, unsafe stance. I had built up walls within myself. I had stuck emotions, and they were evident in my physical demeanor. It was at that point that I really began a solid yoga practice. I would go to classes, and hear the teachers say to "Open your heart", "shine your heart forward", while holding me in these god awful poses. They were so uncomfortable at first! I would get angry and murmur back something stupid... "be like a butterfly", "rainbow your ass"....and then I'd cry. I was literally stretching/ breaking the patterns I'd developed in my fascia. I soon realized, I was letting out blocked emotion, and slowly my outlook and life started to appear with more clarity . I got closer to my real foundation...
It has taken a long time to break down the walls I had built to protect, I'm still working on it, everyday. And I still get triggered.
When a physical wall in a physical house falls down...I feel the vulnerability I once felt in myself.
When I fell in love with the man with the crowbar, who I met one night in a bar. Who made love real and dreams reality. When he further broke down my walls in the most discreet and natural way. I didn't even realize, until one day I was standing in our new house as he broke down the walls... I felt it, anxious vulnerability.
But then it passed. And I smiled, laughed and shivered at the plump old lizard that swaggered jaggedly across the linoleum in the living room...and then I poured a glass, or two of wine.
P.s. Here's my favorite wedding and everyday foundations. And if you feel like you really need to cover up, there's always concealer. But my advice would be to first look at your skin as a sign for what your body needs more of.
Water? Sleep? Veggies? Lovin? Quiet time? Walks? Cuddles? Girl time? Yoga?
Namaste in bed.