An ASK BR: How Can I Call My Body My Oldest Friend when I Feel Betrayed by It?

This is an issue we get a lot.  Many of BR’s guided imagery narratives refer to the listener’s body as “my oldest friend and steadiest companion”.  It’s deliberately in there to help form or reinstate a feeling of alliance with the body, as opposed to seeing it as the opponent to overcome, or something that’s let us down or even betrayed us.  Sometimes a first reaction to this phrase is, “You gotta be kidding” or “Oldest friend? We’re barely on speaking terms!” Here’s one of those reactions and BR’s response, suggesting why it might be something to consider…


Dear BR,

I listen to the Healthy Heart mp3 almost every day, in the hopes that I can heal my high blood pressure.  I already see a difference.  

But when you say my body is my oldest friend and steadiest companion, how should I feel when things go wrong with my body and it doesn’t work as well as before.  My mother has ovarian cancer and I feel that her body has failed her.  

I was shocked to know that I had high blood pressure.  Would our oldest friend and steadiest companion do these things to us?  I want to have a healthy way to think about this, if you can help me with this.

Thanks,

Maria


Hey, Maria.  Great question, and you’re not the first to ask it.  Here’s the way I think about this:  

I don’t expect my longtime, dearest friends to be perfect. Do you? Who’d have any friends left? [Let alone spouses? :) ]

I do expect them to do the best they can, given their circumstances, and when they disappoint or hurt me, I try to let them know and generally forgive them, because in the long run, they’re just worth the trouble. (And I got rid of the ones that weren’t, some time ago!).  Besides, I’m a sucker for genuine remorse, right?

So I don’t expect my friends to be perfect – I know better. And I don’t expect my body to be perfect either. Because as with friends, there’s no such thing.

Whoever told you to expect that your body would never disappoint you? – or that the normal thing would be strength and health forever – that would be a delusional person – who clearly was NOT paying attention to the lives and bodies around him or her. 

And why would you believe them?  Have you been paying attention? 

I can tell you this: my body is surely not perfect, especially at my age! But really, it never was, even in its grandest days. But, you know, it’s still here, doing the best it can, carrying me through my days, providing important sensory, emotional and muscular information, to help guide me through the minefields and point out the nourishments of living.

I look at my poor old feet (they are a mess) and feel affectionate and grateful to them – in spite of all sorts of difficulties and my overworking them, taking them for granted, they’re still taking steps!! Bravissima, Feet!!

And even when my body gives me aches, or a weakened muscle, or exhaustion or disability that requires surgery, that’s information I need to take care of myself and survive, and as a result, I’m goaded into addressing what’s been called to my attention. That’s a pal, right? Tells you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it…

Do I blame my body for some lousy genes we inherited together? Hell, no. That makes about as much sense as cursing the gods. We work with what we’ve got.

So, I look at what I’ve got to work with, and all things considered, my body is still here, loyal and familiar, hanging in there, and serving me as well as it can. It gives me as good a life as it possibly can.  And short of being in acute pain 24/7, which is just a whole other planet, I would say that this, to me, is a dearest and oldest friend. Everything else is just like shaking my fists at bad weather!!! :)

Make any sense?  

All best,

Belleruth