Let’s just say it. My early twenties sucked. Case in point: me, lying naked on the exam table, feet in stirrups, impossibly tiny cover-up draped over me, with yet another doctor probing my personal regions. Snapping the rubber gloves as he pulled them off, the doc popped his head up between my knees.
“Your pelvic floor is a disaster,” he said. Direct quote.
As a young woman, fresh out of college, I had never even considered my pelvic floor. I actually had no idea what that was.
“You have pelvic floor dysfunction, vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis, and vulvar dysesthesia,” he continued. “We’ll start you on physical therapy and some anti-depressants. Oh, and a steroid.”
“Why did I get these syndromes?” I asked.
He shrugged. “We don’t really know why they occur.”
I swallowed, looking for courage before I spoke.
“Um…also, I’m really depressed. I’ve been feeling pretty hopeless lately. Actually, I’ve had a lot of panic, too.” (This was nice-speak for I am so f-ing tired of being in this much pain and my life is ruined and I can’t take it anymore, seriously, seriously, seriously! HELP ME!)
“Oh, don’t worry. The anti-depressant will help that,” he responded. And with that, we were done.
This was the one appointment I’d been hanging all my hopes on, waiting for with bated breath, as if simply walking through the door would bring relief. After years of suffering from interstitial cystitis and now months and months of vaginal pain on top of that, I was at my limit. It hurt to wear underwear, to sit, to walk, and to do anything that involved me moving my body at all.
I came home, laid down on my couch, and succumbed to deep, dark, despair. I felt lost. Alone. Hopeless. If the doctor didn’t know why I had these syndromes, how would I heal? It seemed like so many pieces of the puzzle were missing. I needed guidance. Support. Kindness.
When I went to my first physical therapy appointment, my physical therapist handed me a business card.
“This is a woman who teaches relaxation techniques and deep breathing,” she explained. “It might help you relax these pelvic muscles.”
I took the card, grateful for any suggestions. At this point, the medications had shown no signs of helping, and the doctor didn’t have answers.
At my first breathing lesson, I learned about a million things about myself. At my first breathing lesson, I found the compassion, the kindness, the hope, and the connection I needed to see my healing process from a new light. I’d found a healer; someone who could help me connect mind, body, and spirit and understand what imbalances were asking for attention.
And thus my mind-body healing journey began. I dove in, excited to understand how I’d been locked in mental patterns that caused me to live in a constant state of stress. This created tension in my body, and most of that was in my pelvic floor muscles. I spent most of every day being incredibly hard on myself, criticizing myself, trying to be better, do more, achieve more, be skinnier, and generally be someone other than myself.
I started to see how this pain syndrome had evolved. I started to see how I could create well-being. It was my new passion: mind-body healing.
But it was SO MUCH BIGGER than just health. It was freedom from mental self-torture. It was connection to inner wisdom. It was confidence. It was creativity. It was being aligned with my true nature and feeling spiritual connection and guidance in my daily life.
In 2008, I trained as a Life Coach with Martha Beck. I wanted to help others on this healing journey, and provide the kindness, the support, the coaching, the connection, and the tools that I’d found so immensely helpful. I figured that my story – healing from that wide variety of “chronic” pelvic pain syndromes using mind-body healing – could bring hope, help, and well-being to others. It was the most fulfilling work I could have ever imagined.
In 2010, I begin training other coaches in the mind-body tools, and in 2011 Mind-Body Coach University was born. It was increasingly hard to be of service to the many people who wanted mind-body coaching, so the coaches who took my training could also help those people seeking mind-body healing.
Now, I’ve created the Kindness Community to serve as a supportive place where you can come to feel connection, get coached, hear the wisdom your body is sharing, and discover kindness. You, too, can find the freedom in letting go of the old patterns that create constant self-judgment, stress, physical pain, illness, and a sense of disconnection from others and spirit. If you’re wondering if the community is for you, check out the Is This You? page.
What do I do, exactly? I see your energy in your body. I see where your old mental stress patterns are creating blocks to complete health, and I coach you around releasing them and allowing emotional energy to flow. This allows you to connect to your inner wisdom and begin trusting yourself. You hear the wisdom your body is sharing. You become an even more effective coach/healer, or you become ready to begin doing your work in the world.
In my thirties, I’m now a mom, an Irish fiddler (aka recovering classical violinist), a coach, a coach mentor, a seer, a healer, and a woman who is passionately dedicated to kindness: for me, and for others. It’s the secret to my well-being, and whenever I forget it, my body lets me know. Thankfully, I’m getting better and better at remembering. Kindness is the path.
“Abigail Steidley is a good coach for bad times. Her coaching can make your life better no matter what your circumstances, but when things get tough she is really in her element. Her ability to forge and strengthen mind-body-spirit connections for her clients make her a safe haven in life’s stormy times. Abigail’s kindness, her wit, her intelligence, and her determination are formidable allies for her clients.”