It happened again. The same tense conversation. Me trying to smooth things over, overly sweet. Her firmly standing ground, making strong statements, burning my olive branches before my very eyes. Who is more at fault? We've had the conversation before, following the same pattern, going nowhere. And with time, it has meant that our friendship has drifted apart.
I left with a tight chest, my breaths shallow and my shoulders raised. I'm sure that my pulse was racing. Years of people-pleasing has left me with few coping mechanisms when people, quite simply, are not pleased. I talk it over with my sister, my best friend, who is a very good listener (yes, I suppose that might be why she is a therapist). Her advice is plain: sometimes these symptoms, the elevated pulse, the tight chest, they are your body's way of telling you something. Yes, of course. I have lived my whole life with this body, through this body, as this body, really, and yet spend most of my time silencing rather than interpreting it. I know that Paul's question is for me: "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple, and that God's spirit lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16) No, honestly, I don't always know that. And what then is this temple, this body, telling me?
I know that in the short term, my body was asking me, quite urgently, to walk away from that conversation. Which I did. But in the long term? In the next conversation, the next relationship? I really don't know. And so I left one conversation to enter another, this one with my own body. I am left listening, calmly and quietly, as if for the softest whisper.