I believe that we dictate certain emotions to certain parts of our body. I know that there is no scientific basis for this, but I think that if you get to know yourself well enough, you start to discover these pockets within your body where emotions hide out.
For instance, nervousness hangs out in my fingers. This one is the most obvious to me, and if you don’t believe, watch me closely the next time you know I am in a situation where I am nervous. My fingers get really tense. Or I gesticulate more wildly than normal, not with my whole arms, but mostly with my hands. It’s during these times that it’s unfortunate that I have such long fingers, because I feel it makes this nervous tick all the more obvious. Sometimes I can hide my nervousness in almost every other aspect, but if you look at my fingers, they won’t shake, but they will be unnaturally stiff.
My hamstrings and lower back are not as flexible as I would like them to be. Even when I practice yoga regularly and find the rest of my body bending and twisting past my expectations, my hamstrings will refuse to budge much further. This is where I hang onto past experiences that have made me sad and or lonely. It’s fitting that these muscles are on the back side of me, and it’s the things that are now behind me that I can’t quite let go of. They don’t cause me much physical pain, but they sometimes keep me from growing and stretching as far as I want to. At the same time, those hamstrings and my lower back propel me when running; they keep me upright and balanced. Occasionally my lower back will ache, and the aches are a reminder that loneliness is a dull pain that arises every so often no matter what I do.
But the most stubborn emotion, the one that hides in pockets that are buried deep is resentment. Resentment hides out beneath my shoulder blades. Sometimes it causes me to tense up, and sometimes leads to some serious soreness and stiffness. Sometimes it even creeps up into my neck and occasionally my jaw. But most of the time, it hides under my shoulder blades. I get a monthly massage, and sometimes when I go I won’t be feeling any tension when I go in, and even those times the therapist will find some deep, persistent, stubborn knots there. Even when I am not consciously thinking about it, resentment seems to be there.
Resentment isn’t all that different from anger, really. I decided to look up the word, and I found this interesting tidbit from Wikipedia:
“Robert C. Solomon, a professor of continental philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, places resentment on the same line-continuum with contempt and anger. According to him, the differences between the three emotions are as follows: resentment is directed towards higher-status individuals, anger is directed towards equal-status individuals and contempt is directed towards lower-status individuals.”
Contempt, then, seems much more easy to shrug off. Anger is more difficult, but the fact that resentment is directed at someone in a higher status is what makes it so hard to let go of. Because that business of higher status is something that is only perceived by the person feeling resentment. Status really is arbitrary, and it is especially so when it is the factor that pushes anger to something even darker and heavier. To feel that the person who wronged you is somehow higher than you inherently means you are establishing yourself in a subordinate position. So that resentment comes from a perceived inability to meet that person on a level plane and express that good, healthy anger that he or she deserves. So then that deep, persistent anger at someone else really is deep, persistent anger with yourself, which is why it is so hard to stop resenting someone (or something)– doing so means accepting the frustration- anger-sadness-helplessness-humiliation of the wrong that occurred along with the mechanisms that lead you to perceive that wrong doer is in a higher position. In other words, resentment towards another is probably just as much resentment towards a part of yourself.
Which is why I guess resentment hides deep in my back where I can’t reach it. It’s there and I know it’s there and it knows that I know it’s there and it knows that I know why it’s there. And I figure that sooner or later, it’s going to have to find a new place altogether to hide out, perhaps a place that is more accessible where I can discard it just as easily as I throw off nervousness by wringing out my hands.
Don’t worry Massage Envy; I’ll still come in for my monthly massage.