I had a dream on Monday night that I was explaining to a physical therapist what was hurting by describing the one thing that was not hurting: my toes. I woke up from that dream with stiff, aching toes.
I’ll be honest. I’ve been utterly failing at my attempts for body compassion. For the past week I’ve been in so much pain that I’ve had a difficult time loving this crooked frame. I’ve been angry and exhausted with it. And those old burdens of feeling broken and hopeless have resurfaced. Feeling those aching toes stirred up such bitter resentment. Of course my flipping toes hurt. Because that’s my body for ya.
It rings a bit of parental expectations, those sneaky little thoughts that tell me my kid should be doing this chore, should be playing outside right now, should be quiet when I’m quiet. After all, I do all these wonderful things for him, shouldn’t he reciprocate?
And my body…it should be able to keep up for more than an hour at the zoo without dragging my legs, should be allowing me to hoop outside right now, should quiet its complaints when I’m trying to rest. After all I’ve been feeding it good foods, telling it its beautiful, trying to make things available to it…shouldn’t it reciprocate?
Body expectations: I’m throwing all these things at it for the sole purpose of getting what I want from it.
I’m manipulating it. Bribing it. Placing heavy expectations on it. This is not acceptance. This is not unconditional love. I’m not unschooling my body…apparently I’m deschooling my relationship with it.
Monday night was nearly a breaking point for me. Exhausted from pain, I was being a total bitch. Just downright shitty. I could hear my words and my tone and it broke my heart. I was empty, giving all my energy just to stay upright and I had nothing left to give my family. It was not authentic. It did not feel good. But the very best I could do was to exile myself, get my mouth away from my men.
I was hating myself and Life in that moment, not just for the pain I was experiencing, but for the pain I was inflicting.
The next morning I made a call to a local Egoscue clinic. With Justin’s support, we dropped a large chunk of money on this very particular kind of “physical therapy”.
I had been resisting this for a long time. I was resisting giving my body the only thing I thought might make a difference for two reasons: money and my own feelings of hopelessness. “It’s too expensive and I’m past the point that it can make a difference anyway.” I can’t help but see the correlation between my body resistance and my parental resistance. So many excuses and none of them made sense once I embraced what I feared embracing.
Over and over, the therapist repeated “Your body can heal itself. You’re not broken.” Broken…the very word I flung at myself, the very word I carried through my days, that wore me down with hopelessness. I’m not broken. My body just needs my attention.
Two days of therapy and I’m almost embarrassed to say how good I feel. Embarrassed to admit that I put this off so long.
Embarrassed that part of me is afraid to let this go.
Oof, there’s some radical authenticity for ya. I have for so long had an adversarial relationship with my body. And in two days and slightly under four hours of corrective exercises, I’ve had almost no pain. No stabs slicing through my knees. No dull aching across my lower back. No heaviness in my legs or numbness in my arms. I’ve had practically none of the symptoms that have so long defined my body, and more recently defined my every day.
And without those definitions I have nothing but the my own truth left to see.
And it’s embarrassing. I have to face the disappointment I’ve had with my body, face the way I’ve spoken to it or about it. I have to face treating it as a hopeless case, but also face treating it as if it owes me something. I have to let all that go and I have to have the courage to embrace this body without expectations, without bitterness, and with complete acceptance that it neither defines me, nor can I define it.
Disability can not define my life. It just can’t. I want to see my body’s capabilities as exactly as they should be. And it’s not my job to criticize it. It’s my job to fall in love with it. To praise it. To take it and live out loud with it. Just as it is.
And I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to live without that definition of broken. But I think….oh Gd, I hope…I’m going to learn.