• Catherine Hansen

The time my body shut down



We’ve been through a lot. The world has been through a lot. Dysfunction, disconnection and division are at an all-time high. But the struggles that feel raw to me today are much closer to home. They are in our hearts and our homes. They have invaded our neighborhoods and our families. They are where we find ourselves at the edge (not the end) of a global pandemic. Our collective human form is tired, lonely and seeking refuge.


We are, very much, in need of rest and reconnection but we continue to push through and wait for an announcement that it’s time to retreat from the war we’ve been in.


Recently, I was forced to confront the fact that those answers aren’t coming. At least not in the ways I had expected or from the source I was hoping would declare an end to this battle.


The permission to take respite is not coming from any external front. The remedy to our weariness is closer than we think. It’s not out there -it’s right HERE. Inside me. Inside us.


A couple weeks ago, my body stalled. I can’t explain it any other way. I was, literally, lying in bed with my mind saying ‘go’ and my body saying ‘no.’ It reminded me of the days when my pager would go off and I’d pretend I hadn’t heard it before realizing that I needed to run and deliver a baby. Except this time, I couldn’t get up.


So, I stayed in bed to notice; to observe; to listen and the messages were profound. The whispers I hadn’t been heeding had turned into an all-out mutiny of my muscles. I was going nowhere and, yet, I felt remarkably safe.


Instead of panicking, closing down or becoming fearful, I decided to turn to my body and ask her what she needed.

  • Why was I so exhausted?

  • Why was this bodily response so over-the-top?

  • Couldn’t she just be a headache or back pain and let me carry on my duties?

  • Couldn’t she just go away with a little ibuprofen or a glass of wine?

  • Why couldn’t I numb my exhaustion like every other time?

I was accustomed to those physical symptoms and I knew how to ignore them.


I considered calling someone. So many names came to mind of the people who would tell me it’s okay to be tired and take a day off. My family, my friends, my coaches, my colleagues – they would all affirm the level of energy I had been putting into my multiple tasks was unsustainable and remind me that I’ll be okay after a little rest.

But when I listened closer and asked more poignant questions, I realized that she was talking to me and me alone. It didn’t matter what anyone else said or did. It was up to me.


Only I could give my own body, mind and soul permission. Permission to listen. Permission to hear. Permission to rest. Permission to relax. Permission to pause.


Have you ever felt like this before? If so, consider this your sign from the universe that you need to rest! Let my experience of exhaustion be a teacher to you and give yourself permission to take a break.