Emotional Body Parts

on May 7, 2010 in Misc

womansbackRCI never knew that my body came with a built-in “emotional stress pocket.”  This last week I became intimately acquainted with it.

It seems The Pocket is very low in the back and kind of off to either side in the hips.  In my case, it was my right Pocket that started hurting like hell last week.  I was pretty surprised about this.  After all, I have an unusually strong back (thank you, ballet training!) and only once before have I had really bad lower back pain.

Then again, thanks to the Idiot Black Belt who slammed me to the floor, I have lots of nasty injuries on my left side (which you know about ‘cause I keep reminding you).  This means that while I’ve been healing I’ve lifted and worked only with my right side and can only sleep on my right side. 


My chiropractor said that my poor worn-out right side was the main cause of my lower right back/hip being twisted out of place.  But after he fixed me up and I felt much better, he added a second reason.

“Of course, this is also where your body stores stress,” he said.  “It’s your emotional stress pocket.”

Strange, but I instantly knew he was right, and never mind how New-Agey his words may sound.  To put it mildly, I’ve been under a shitload of stress since this accident.  And the legal bitchery that’s been aimed at me is much worse stress-wise than my injuries.  So it really does make sense to me that my body has tried to deal with all this poisonous stress by shoving it down into that built-in body part emotional container.

Sounds flakey, I know.  But I swear to you that in the following days, when the stress temporarily went down, the muscles around that pocket relaxed and the hurt diminished.

You know how I told you that I’ve only had bad lower back pain once before?

It was years ago and the pain was different – it went directly across my entire lower back.  I figured strained muscles from trapeze were the cause.  But when the pain didn’t stop I went to a wonderful massage/physical therapist/yoga teacher named Hansa who worked all my muscles back into place.  And then she asked me, “Have you been feeling like you don’t have enough support in your life?”


I wanted to cry.  Loved ones not emotionally supporting me, feeling like I was weighed down too much with my life – that was EXACTLY what I’d been feeling in buckets and spades.  Hansa wisely knew that this was why my lower back was aching like all hell.  So while she healed my muscles I healed my lower back by letting those dark emotions go.  The pain has never returned.

What does all this emotional body parts stuff have to do with Layla or action heroes? 

Luckily for Layla, this is one experience I won’t be passing onto her.  I figure that between the injuries and an emotional trauma that I’ll be adding to her story, she already has enough problems.

Still, the fact remains that action heroes get banged up on a regular basis, and not only physically but emotionally.  If they’re really smart (Layla is brilliant), they know enough to be aware of their bodies and what it takes to heal them.  And if not a fact it’s more than a theory that our bodies never forget trauma and emotions get stuck into various body parts.  Scientists are even theorizing that a person’s mind is not only in the brain but spread throughout the body.  This is kinda scary, when you think about it.

What traumas or accidents or emotionally wrenching experiences are stuck away into different parts of my body like so many rabid bats?  I really don’t want them taking an emotional tailspin through me any time soon.  On the other hand, maybe they’re balanced by good stuff that’s also taken up bodily residence.

At any rate, we writers habitually take many of our personal experiences and give them new life within our stories.  So I figure that eventually my emotional body parts will find their way into print.

4 Responses to “Emotional Body Parts”

  1. Ben says:

    That must be amazing to get that stress pocket worked out of you! I totally know what you mean, maybe not to the same extent that you’ve been feeling. I hope your healing process goes more smoothly, and maybe plan the “right sided” workouts not as hardcore so you don’t need to pay another emergency visit to your chiropractor.

  2. Helena says:

    Ben — Thanks! My workouts (presently all from the waist down) are pretty equal sided. But going through everyday life — that’s the problem!

  3. Robert L. Read says:

    Dear Helena,
    I am sorry that you are in pain.

    Your describing a relatively unexplored area of the action-adventure trupe—the need for mental toughness/flexibility. Perhaps the best AAH, or soldier for that matter, is one who has the mental flexibility to find coping strategies to handle fear and stress, rather than the most courageous and strong.

    I sometimes read about Special Forces training in which people do ridiculously punishing things, and you sometimes hear the soldiers say that their bodies can take it but staying mentally strong is the hardest part.

    I don’t know if you can work this into your fiction without destroying the fantasy of it—I don’t want to read about a hypochondriac heroine’s aches and pains. I do, however, want the struggle to be realistic. At some point (probably older than I should admit) I became uninterested in comic-book struggles because the invincibility of the hero made it uninteresting. I though, even as a boy, that Spiderman was a brilliant character, because he flunked out of PE because he was too busy saving the world (or at least his grilfriends.)

    If I may ramble a bit more, I do a lot of biking, although not competitively, and my previously-competitive biking friends talk a lot about energy-management. A good biker has to know when to conserve energy, and win to pour it on and to try to win. Great bikers can give 100% 2 or 3 days in a row, and mortals can due it for 1 day. Most people can’t give a maximal effort twice in same week. I wonder if an AHH has the same kind of issue—that here “reshness” controls what she’s willing to dare. A tired and injured AHH might not risk stealing a car, whereas the same person when at her best might pickpocket a dossier of a thug in Embassy or something.

    In any case, good luck to you and Layla. It seems to me that your experiment has already resulted in some important lessons, though you had to get injured to learn them.

  4. Helena says:

    Dear Robert,
    What profound insights you have! I’ve never heard of action-adventure trupe, but I’m now going to look into it.

    In some ways I myself can be mentally tough (Layla is better at it), though the word I use is “stoic.” Problem is, I was way too stoic for a couple weeks — like going to work while not knowing I had a partially collapsed lung and fractured ribs — hell, we’re all afraid of losing our jobs, so we stick out the tough times. And now I’ve found out too late that stoic or AAH is REALLY bad when it comes to lawyers. They don’t understand why I didn’t complain and groan and fall on the floor IMMEDIATELY, seek help and generally panic right there in the Aikido class, hence I could not possibly have been injured at all. Obviously soldiers are one thing, lawyers another — but it’s lawyers that rule our society.

    (And for the record — I wasn’t the one who lawyered up and took a hard line legal stance in the matter of my injury. Instead, that’s what I found myself up against in what I thought would be a small, courteous matter. How naive of me.)

    As for Layla — she’ no hypochondriac. But at one key point I’m gonna get her injured, and she knows that she should seek medical attention ASAP, but can’t. For about another 48 hours, she has to keep going. She’ll have to fall back on her mental toughness and mind over body. The fact that this ain’t easy will add to the story’s tension — we’re not sure whether or not she’ll collapse at any minute.

    Yes, there’s a certain amount of fantasy that I’m working with, but I want to simultaneously ground it in as much reality as possible. It’s a delicate balancing act, but writers like you and me have to strike that balance.