Group Therapy Thursday: A Piece of You Discussion

Last week’s exercise had us choosing a part of ourselves to take special care of for one week.  How many of you knew right away which area you’d been neglecting and were going to tend to?  I’ll admit, I knew immediately what area I’ve been neglecting and to be even more honest: this exercise, for me, was pretty difficult.  In fact, I had to force myself to do it.  Read on for my update….

A Piece of Me. 

Spend the week tending to a part of the remarkable body thathatelossbadge serves you. Beginning today, choose a part of your body that you’ve been dismissing or have been neglectful of and pay special attention to that area for the next week by nurturing it every day.

The part I chose to pay special attention to was an area on my stomach.  Specifically, the scar that stretches from one side of my abdomen to the other – the permanent reminder of my abdominal hysterectomy last year. 

After arriving home from the hospital last June there wasn’t much I could do with my belly other than keep watch over my incision and make sure it didn’t get infected.  It’s been over 7 months since surgery and even though my incision has healed, it’s unfortunately turning into a keloid scar.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with that term, it’s basically an excess growth of scar tissue, so instead of having a smooth, flat line where my incision was, it is raised and rigid.   As a result, I find myself avoiding my stomach in general at all costs.   The whole thing looks like a major train wreck.  It’s unsightly and makes me feel less attractive.   I still have major swelling in my belly on days when I run. My clothes still don’t fit properly and maybe, never will again. Neglected body part?  Um – yes, and I really don’t want to feel this way about myself. 

So, what does a girl do with an area that brings about so many negative emotions?  I had to think about that for a bit.  First, I knew that I needed to become more comfortable with my scar in general, because let’s face it, it’s a part of me ~ like it or not.  So, I started my week by forcing myself (I hate to use that word but yes, I literally had to force myself) to actually look at it every day.  I also forced myself to trace the scraggled line with my finger, again every day, in an attempt to desensitize myself from it.  Finally, I began massaging Vitamin E oil into my scar, which I bought a long time ago but never used because I simply wasn’t ready to ‘deal with it’.

My thoughts now that I’ve been attending to my scar for a full week:

I wish I could say that I was confident and feeling most comfortable with my belly and more at peace with my scar, but I’d be lying.  Rome wasn’t built in a day after all, and my attitude over the whole thing is simply going to take more effort on my part.  The difference though, is that now I’m actually willing to work on it instead of ignore it.  This week has shown me that I need to develop more compassion for my body as a whole and what it’s been through instead of what it looks like.  It is healing the only way it knows how and I just need to be more understanding to that fact. 

How did you do? 

Which piece of you did you choose, and why that particular area?  Did you feel more compassion for your body and/or less critical of it while doing this exercise?  Did you have to remind yourself not to rush through your general care routine, or did it help you slow down and become more attentive to your body’s needs?  Did it improve your overall attitude about yourself? Please feel free to add anything you like to this discussion, either in the comments section below or on your own blog – just make sure to link to your post from here so we can all visit you! 

Thanks for participating this week, everyone.  Drop by tomorrow for some topics to think about for our next exercise.  Have a good session. 

~Ellen

20 thoughts on “Group Therapy Thursday: A Piece of You Discussion

  1. Hanlie

    I scar very badly, and I have so many of them, that I can totally relate to your feelings about your scar. I can’t see my own hysterectomy scar under my belly, but my doctor says it looks “as if it was done by a plastic surgeon”, which kind of surprised me. I’ll have to take his word for it!

    As you say, at least you’re willing to work on this. That is a major step!

    I have been feeling more comfortable IN my body lately, so the next step is to feel more comfortable ABOUT my body. This week’s challenge actually did help with that. Thank you so much for gently guiding us…

    Here’s my post. The password is “Africa”.

    http://www.hblewett.com/blog/2013/01/17/a-piece-of-me/

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Yes, it is a step in the right direction, Hanlie – and something that I am determined not to let get the best of me. It’s been over half a year since my surgery; it’s time to put certain aspects of it behind me.
      …and thank YOU for being so great about your participation this month. xo

      Reply
  2. Brenda

    I chose my stomach. I have loose skin, stretchmarks from 2 pregnancies, and much room to strengthen my ab muscles. After a week of focusing on my stomach it already feels stronger. And I have been focusing on my posture ALL week as well which is leaving me feeling more confident.
    I blogged here about it http://simplymebrenda2.blogspot.com/2013/01/hate-loss-challenge-week-2.html
    It is a private blog so if anyone is not on the reading list I would be happy to add you :)

    Reply
  3. KCLAnderson (Karen)

    “I’m actually willing to work on it instead of ignore it. ”

    A perfect example of moving from resistance to acceptance :-)

    Instead of a body part, I chose to focus on taking more mindful time doing things like brushing my teeth, washing my face, etc. instead of rushing through these tasks so I could “get on with it.” I believe that mindfulness in these areas will help me improve my overall relationship with my body. And like you, it’s a work in progress. It’s something to practice :-)

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I have been reading a lot about acceptance these past couple of weeks. In fact, it is my topic for tomorrow :)
      These things are definitely something to practice, Karen – you’re so right. I’m glad to hear that you’re slowing down and caring for your whole self – it’s so easy to rush through things without giving thought to the fact of how important these tasks really are!

      Reply
  4. Brandi

    Geeze what a week!! It’s been a long one and I am ready for this long weekend coming up!
    I hated to miss out on therapy last night, but after work my boss and I wanted to take the employees out to eat and have a group meeting about some things that were coming up. We waited an hour just to get in a booth, then another 20 minutes to get a big table (there is 7 of us)! The service was HORRIBLE and I tried to tell my boss not to leave a tip, but he did anyway. You won’t see me there again. It was really late when I got home and I was super beat down. Physically and emotionally. I don’t know why PMS affects us the way it does, but dang. The tears were right there all day yesterday. I wanted to eat copious amounts of cookies too. When I finally made it to bed, I just felt so yucky. It’s amazing how something like that can make you feel off from your game or even mess the entire week up.
    I tell you that little rant to say this… Spending time on my hands/nails this week didn’t really seem to help me through that night. I even looked down at my hands and was like….”you look pretty…. you look pretty!!!” Nothing. I spent most of the week filing my nails. I even did a scrub one night to wash away the unwanted bits on my hands and they felt amazing at the time. Working with my hands pretty much all day forces me to wash them….a lot. :/
    I realized something as I am typing this though. I have my mothers hands. I love my mother and it just made me smile. My hands are small and I like the way they are shaped. I like to keep my nails short so that I can type (at work) and I think that it suits my hands to do that.
    So, in the long run, spending time on my hands did actually help. My hands and feet do most of the work. What in the world would I do without them!!
    Thank you Ellen for this exercise!!

    Reply
    1. teresa

      Hi Brandi!
      I just have to tell you the part about noticing that you have your mothers hands and that it made you smile really touched me. it just sort of popped out at me.
      I also admire the effort you made with your hands this week!

      Reply
    2. Ellen Post author

      Brandi, I’m sorry you had such a rough day/week at work. At times like the ones you describe – for me, even – it’s hard to find even the smallest light in an otherwise frantic, frustrating moment. I have to commend you though on trying to find something comforting to cling to despite the fact that your evening was going so poorly. I bet if it had gone better, you’d have had an easier time to reflect on how pretty your hands looked. Circumstances – grr!!!
      I was thinking the same thing Teresa was – your comment about your mother’s hands were very touching, and for you to have that thought to carry with you is such a personal and sweet thing. Thank you for your update this week. So nice to hear from you. xo

      Reply
  5. teresa

    I had a terrible time with my physical self this week. There was no part I looked at that didn’t make me sad. Turns out I’ve gotten old while I wasn’t paying attention to myself. I was looking forward to doing this but the parts of me I approached were so much worse than I expected them to be.
    Full disclosure… turns out I had my old lady, peri-menopause PMS. Probably part of the problem. and Grrrrrrrr…..
    Ellen, your recounting helps me a lot. I felt like maybe I could try some of your techniques.
    One thing I’ve done is start a new blog. Just for me and this process of allowing myself to “be”. That’s the one I’m sharing here and will use for this work.
    I’m going to post about this there, but needed to come here first and get some inspiration. Thanks to all.
    And Ellen, here is the Rumi quote that your scar makes me think of… “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”
    xo

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Thank you, thank you again for the Rumi quote. You inspire. Know this. ((hugs)).
      It appears that a few of us really had to work hard on this particular exercise – some of us had revelations and for others, it was just plain hard. It’s my hope that each of us walked away with a better understanding of ourselves. Insight is very powerful.

      Reply
  6. Beth

    I chose my skin as my body part. I decided to take care of my skin…I put lotion on it all week, once in the morning, and once at night. I don’t know if it looks any better, but it made me feel better!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Beth, you are hanging in with this challenge – I’m so proud of you!
      I’m glad that you feel better when putting lotion on. Winters in Michigan practically require extra moisturizing, don’t they? I’m sure your skin appreciates it .

      Reply
  7. didi

    So I had a huge tantrum this past week, because I was having such a hard time being nice to the bits of me that I don’t like. I’m not even joking. I picked my arms, because that’s the only part that I have never liked regardless of my weight. Then I decided to include my belly, because it is the largest area- although I’ve never hated it constantly like my arms. I tried and tried to think of ways to be nice to these parts, and was totally resistant. Finally, it triggered a sort of meltdown and I ended up crying and ranting about everything in my life that has ever gone wrong. Whew. My poor boyfriend patiently listened to me going on and on about past mistakes and god knows what else. After the ranting and tears, I felt a bit better and decided to use a nice bristled brush that I have and dry brush my whole body. I started on my arms, and as I brushed in a circular motion I said “These are my beautiful, strong arms and they are an important part of me. Without these arms I could not give great hugs. I wouldn’t be able to stretch out my hand and touch a flower or a leaf. I couldn’t hold and comfort the ones that I love without my arms.” I went over each part of my body with my bristled brush, and gave each part compliments and praise, and it was so relaxing that I then decided to use a sea salt/ olive and sesame oil salt scrub over my entire body. I figured a whole body loving detox was a good idea after my flip out, so I kinda just went with it. I ended up doing a body wrap while listening to Belleruth Naparstek’s guided imagery cd “Anger and Forgiveness” (her cds are amazing, by the way). After I removed the wrappings from my body I decided to have a salt bath, and listen to the guided imagery and affirmation cd a second time. I added two cups of kosher salt to the water and soaked away a whole lot of resentment and negative feelings. By the time I was done having the bath I was so emotional that all I wanted to do was lay in bed and focus on all the emotions that were coming up. I thought about my insecurities, my grief, and letting go. I literally exhausted myself and fell asleep for a good hour or so. I wondered how long it would take me to move through forgiveness.
    That was yesterday. Today I woke up feeling AMAZING! The skin on my entire body is like silk, and I feel fabulous. I’ve decided to continue doing the dry brushing sessions in combination with a salt bath every three or four days, and set the intention of letting go of negative thoughts and self doubt before the sessions. I am going to soak away the pockets of stored pain. I’ve also decided to make listening to the guided imagery cd for Anger and Forgiveness every day a top priority. Today I woke up in such a good mood that I did my first workout (for arms) in weeks.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      What a wonderful update. You were not the only one having a hard time with this one, Didi. But you worked through it and out of determination and love for yourself – you turned a negative thing into a powerful, nurturing experience. I mean – WOW. So very happy that you feel better. Maybe it was just time that you purged those feelings. Perhaps nothing would have come if you hadn’t done that so that shows there’s a reason for everything. ((hugs to you))) and thank you for reporting back :)

      Reply
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