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Our Dirty Little Secrets

by Katherine Bird

I work with a lot of people.

They have a lot of bodies. Those bodies have a lot of stories. Those stories weave a cloth of genetic anomalies, childhood illness and injuries, traumatic events that leave scars, lumps and twisted tissue, stupid little issues that barely receive any attention, amazing stories of being brought back from the brink with a lot of medical intervention, metal plates and screws, reconstructions, experimental surgeries, organs taken away and new joints from ceramic and titanium.

Each piece is a piece of the beautiful puzzle that makes up who we are.

The body is in a constant state of mending and compensation. We push ourselves, fall and get right back up. It is a miraculous journey inside this form.

People tell me everything about their bodies and a lot about their lives.

Yet, I often find in a class setting that we hate to let our instructors know about our injuries. I’ve done it. I bet that you have too. I’ve injured myself in a class and never said anything. After all, it was my fault. I pushed too hard. I didn’t listen. Then going to another class, I never mentioned the previous injury. In fact, I didn’t even think about it, even with the restriction and pain. We just get used to the way our bodies feel. This creates another injury on the other side of the first.

No matter how many times a teacher tells us not to push, to listen to our bodies, to not do too much: we do. We are competitive creatures, humans.

And, we have a hard time admitting a weakness. We do not want to let people know about our brokenness.

But, if no one knows about it, how can we help you? How can we give you modifications and helpful suggestions? How can we keep from injuring you further so that you hate this class as well and end up feeling more broken than before?

As teachers of all kinds of physical modalities, we must keep encouraging our students to speak up: in private, on intake forms, in class, however we can to get the information into our minds.

When I know my students bodies—one reason I love to work with people one on one—I then can state, This is the exercise for you. Concentrate on this at home, or, Not this, do it this way.

We must take the stigma of being broken from our minds. We are not broken. We are healing. Each one of us is healing on physical, emotional and spiritual levels. And we are here to do it together. That is why I tell people that I have been hurt, broken, unable to get up off the floor with pain that lasted for years. That is why I tell people that there was no dance, no song in my body, and yet I found my healing.

It is possible. Do not be afraid. You are not your injury, but a part of you is defined by it.

Of course, we don’t need to focus on our imperfections, telling everyone and spiraling into a, Woe is me  situation, but for those of us who keep it all a dirty little secret…

Let us know so that we can help you.

This post was originally published on Elephant Journal.

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