Today I woke up realizing that I spent twenty of the first twenty-six years of my life completely strung out on cortisol because I was 6 years old when I became the vision of success as a warrior.
I was kind of in a healthier version for the next five to ten years because I started finding more holistic outlets, got married and was off on building a family but I really can only say I hit recovery from the patriarchy at 40 years-of-age.
When I looked at my second-grade school pictures I felt bad for the little girl in front of me. Her hair was a bit thin. She was thin and yet she still she smiled missing a couple of teeth in an average seven-years-old grin but I was really undergoing a lot of stress then.
I can’t even imagine kids today. On top of the things I was dealing with there is all the busy of competitive parenting. I had almost forgotten all about that mighty girl whose entire family dynamic was under fire with deaths, mental illness, financial shifts, and the normal growth spurts.
I know why I was looking like that now and I wonder if any pediatricians are even addressing the stress load on little guts and neurodynamics.
Chances are my sleep was not good and I know I was very physically active. I may not have been eating very well because I was a kid and sometimes really picky. I know I had a lot of fast food around then and my life was traumatized by watching my dad almost cut his fingers off in the lawn mower that summer before after losing his job because of PTSD and spending a week or so in a Mental Health facility. I know now that even the skin of that second-grader lost it’s luster of course by the time I hit adolescence, my hormone dance was likely struggling every month for harmony.
One look comparing my first grade and second-grade photos showed me the truth, that is the year I became an overachieving adrenaline junkie.
Women's health delays are woven into inequality.
That PMS migraine every month during my junior and senior year was not to be expected. It was not by womanly body acting normal like my mother said.
That was a direct sign of being toxic and stressed and I likely had a sluggish liver from eating PMS foods, late night teen talks on the phone and the normal stress of adolescent angst.
An adult second chance view of fighting for everything
Recently, after two decades focusing on the body, mind and social impact of natural trauma on injury healing, I have had a lot of experience visually body reading. I can see the effects of chronic high stress hormones and dehydration walking in the door. I can feel it on the guarded stance of a handshake.
As a women's health therapist there was also the change in vaginal tissues, bowel comfort and gut health. There was also the look of complete exhaustion on the face of that perimenopausal woman exercising everyday and nutritionally beating herself up between food restrictions and wine overindulgence.
So I began using a variety of psychosocial metrics to re embrace some of the surrender of control and make a game of it for my clients who did not buy into the energy work. I made it a game between a "natural" vs "work" style performance metric for the ultra independent academic high achievers and then we had compliance.
I needed the hits...I needed the protection.
Yup, looking back, somewhere in that age between 7 and 8, I got into a battle with my world. There was a lot of aggression around me and I realize that is the year I began to see the social power advantage if I would abandon some of my femininity too.
I don't think that after that second grade picture, I ever wore a dress to grade school again. I also remember that by 8 years old, I started being a little bit of a mean girl. I know I was thinking my mother was weak because she was emotionally dependent on a verbally abusive person and so I was not verbally abusive, I was verbally strategic, as many mean girls can be. I know now that is what is called trauma and internalized misogyny and it made me well liked by the boys and the leader of the girls so that was the 1970's - 1980's girl power policy.
Moving into an Estrogen Junkie
When puberty started, I got bossy. I got angry and my inflammatory lifestyle gave me the acne more than the hormones. Looking back at some skin issues and before mentioned headaches, my poor liver was already calling and I did not eat many leafy greens in a Puerto Rican household or know enough to drink enough water at all.
That tendency towards a sluggish liver has been my nemesis since. Being the organ that holds all that bile when you want to scream when no one is listening sure holds a grudge. It took awhile for the cortisol and insulin dance to forget the poor stress management. Perfectionism in school assignments brought me to tears and all I would get was "Are you getting your period?"
Way to use my body against me mom.
It got to the point of anxiety that I almost convinced myself at some level that I needed the cry before tackling a writing project. I actually had an OCD ritual to ensure some good art then for almost two decades I would double check my alarm was set before bed to ensure a good night's sleep.
STRESS STILL HAPPENS...
I wish no tween or teen or their mother this agony yet close to three decades later I do not see these dots being connected by many of my traditional western medicine loyal peers.
A lot of my entrepreneurial launch into becoming the Belly Guru was part of that heal the healer story. I was angry from watching my mother’s psychosocial experiences become anxiety that ended up in a gynecological cancer. I was tired of being ignored in my own knowingness that my blood levels were normal, but my body was not coping well with motherhood.
Being a warrior like the guys made my childhood bearable, my twenties a career climbing breeze but somewhere in my 30's I decided to just become a recovered adrenaline junkie.
I am now less the warrior goddess and a calmer resilient me.
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