I Am Not Broken

Posted and Zeb

Mapping

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.

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36 Comments. Leave new

TheOrganicSister
July 15, 2010 12:03 am

And as is customary, I’m immediately tested in my resolve. My arm lost feeling while posting this. And I’m not frustrated or angry or bitter or feeling hopeless. Because one issue in two days is frackin’ awesome.

oh i hope you can get some relief. and wonderful parenting analogies too. thanks for sharing.

rachel whetzel
July 15, 2010 12:25 am

Maybe, your new definition is mending. :) I love you!! Here’s to healing.

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July 15, 2010 12:28 am

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Organicmama
July 15, 2010 1:21 am

Tara,
This post spoke to me in so many ways… About my body, about the way I interact with my family when I’m feeling empty – as I also have been this week. Thank you for being willing to share this intimate moment of yourself.
May healing blessings fall over your body and may you be kind, forgiving of yourself as you embark on a new way of seeing you.
Blessings. Monna

It’s great to hear that you have found a potential solution, or a part of a solution, for easing your body of its pain. I hope you experience more healing and pain-free days.

As for body acceptance: I’m not sure how this works. There are times when I really *am* accepting of my body and grateful for what it does, but all too often, I let myself spiral into despising it. I’ll be working on this for a long time, I think.

I really enjoyed this post.

[Oops, I mis-typed my own blog site, but I’m the same v as always. :)]

Tara, Have *so* been and felt exactly like you are describing here. Keep the thoughts of wholeness and those thoughts can enable the peace within. I will be here to talk to, too…

in the hush of the moon
July 15, 2010 1:38 am

hoping you heal soon, sister.

Garden Pheenix
July 15, 2010 3:36 am

Awareness is a powerful healing tool :c)

You will get to the other side of this. I am on the other side of this now, and it feels great.

These are the words that struck me: “Embarrassed that part of me is afraid to let this go.”

I used to be there, too, and it’s taken a lot of mostly spiritual but some physical work–none of it that hard and all in baby steps over years–and that needing/wanting at some level to be sick is gone from me. There is another way to live, whether in body and/or mind, and you will get there.

I am sorry you have been in so much pain. My thoughts will be with you for healing and hope.

Thank you for posting this. As someone who is recovering from my second knee surgery, this really spoke to me. Even though I’m now “fixed”, I spend a lot of time/energy feeling “broken.” Your therapist’s mantra really resonated with me this morning.

This is hard for me to read as I struggle with my pain and how I look at it and feel about it. I feel your words and they resonate.
Thanks for sharing, Tara. Such a raw post.
I will be thinking of you, sending you good vibes from the east coast.
And I will be back to read and reread this post as I become even more willing to open myself up to it.

Oh, Tara! I understand this more than I can possibly say!

I recently started going to acupuncture for my intense back pain and the relief felt wrong to me. I woke up in the morning without that dare I say it, comfortable pain! I’ve been blogging about it on my holistic health blog with humor, but the fact is that I’ve been seeing it as a part of my identity.

I was the same with my anxiety disorder and depression. I didn’t want medication or help or herbs or ANYTHING because I LIKED it. I saw it as a huge part of who I was – the depressed girl – and I was afraid to let it go.

I’m so glad you’re going to the therapy. You are doing just fine. This is so okay – to feel this way – to be able to IDENTIFY it – and then to take action in SPITE of the feelings. You’re doing great!

Thank you for the beautiful and authentic post. It resonated with me in many ways-the way I don’t accept my body and get angry with its’ limitations. It looks like a mindful approach to our bodies requires the same skill as mindful parenting. Thank you for taking time in the midst of all of your pain to share this. I have a son living with autism and I go through all kinds of similar emotions with him and the disability and some people’s reaction to it and us. Thanks again! Sending you and your family well wishes and positive thoughts. I hope you continue to feel better and heal.
Peace,
Angela

Of course your body can heal. Of course you are not broken. Sometimes you need a little help, the therapy, but you and your body are going to do the work to let go of your pain and be healthy again. Accepting that we sometimes hold onto our pain is the first step towards letting it go. I understand the resistance. I’ve been there and will be there again, I’m sure.
You can do it!
Love ya!

A Green Spell
July 15, 2010 9:49 am

Beautiful post! This oddly touches on stuff I’m dealing with right now with my boyfriend. Reciprocation, expectations, loses sight of what is authentic…. Wow. Thank you for sharing and I hope you continue to heal and feel good.

Oh, I’m so sorry. I know where you are with that though – I am on day 13 of my back going out again. It was so bad last week. I was about done with it all. The body, I mean. Grrrr. Healing can happen so slowly sometimes, and it is hard to be patient, let it happen, take it easy on ourselves, and expect that those we love are OK with slowing down. Frustrating. Hope you are feeling better now, and it is working itself out.

Can’t wait to see you in Madison. We definitely want to get together – and would love to have you all over … for however long. Play, hanging out, dinner, cool place to chill, boy wii central, whatever. :)

I’m glad you got help. I find I (we) resist getting help/healing for our bodies until we’ve reached that “broken” feeling. We all need help and assistance and their are amazing healers out there. You of course are the most powerful healer of all and it’s the very journey you walk that gifts you with amazing insight and clarity. We all learn from your walk and for that I am deeply thankful.

I wish you powerful healing and a sense of comfort in your body.

TheOrganicSister
July 15, 2010 2:03 pm

It was so very difficult to put this out there. It was difficult just to admit to myself, let alone the world.

But I did it because I knew (I hoped!) it would resonate with others. I did it because I know the only way I can feel free is to feel 100% authentic, honest with myself and open about my journey.

It means so much to know that this same thing resonates with so many others.

It’s such a messy, beautiful road we travel. I appreciate knowing we don’t travel it alone.

I think you’re a beautiful person, and I hope you get some relief soon. :) I’ll keep ya’ in my thoughts and prayers.

Body compassion… I should start that as well.

Charis-Amber
July 15, 2010 3:15 pm

Your post is a good reminder that healing is hardly predictable or linear. Are the exercises time consuming?I know pain can be too, but just wondering :)

TheOrganicSister
July 15, 2010 3:25 pm

@Charis-Amber, the exercises take up to two hours every day. It’s a lot of time but less than being out of commission from pain.

Stacy (Mama-Om)
July 15, 2010 10:09 pm

Such an authentic post, Tara. I can just feel your energy coming through!

~ keep searching, and intuiting, and moving, and healing ~

xo,
s

no “think i will”
no “hope i will”
those are just different ways of spelling “try”
“try” is a backdoor, a way out when things are tough.

you are going to learn because you desire to learn. what it is you will learn is yet to be discovered. you have so much power, so much desire. where it will take you is limitless

bravo!! xoxo ~you are beautiful and courageous and so deliciously authentic ~ it makes me proud to walk this planet with you.

such a heartfelt, authentic post. So wishing healing, comforting and loving vibes to be headed your way. It certainly is true that sometimes it’s that first step, that letting go of the situation and making the mental decision to move forward is the hardest thing to do, even when we *know* that it is the right thing to do – sometimes the hard stuff, be that physical pain or mental or emotional suffering can become so much a part of us that we don’t know who the person will be who is left behind if it goes – it becomes easier to hide behind – “I’m grouchy with the children/husband because of [lack of sleep/pain/whatever]” is easier, than doing something about the ailment and then having to test ourselves to be the person we think we ought to be or would be without it. Definitely something that we can all learn from, even if we don’t suffer the same symptoms – what is it that we hide behind or use that prevents us from being the authentic person we’d like to be ?

all of this sounds so familiar. i’m coming to terms with these very same issues. wishing you well on your journey.

I gotta little teary-eyed reading. I’ve treated life this way before. I tried to change my life with positive feelings and it all came crashing down on me. I live my life much differently now, but wasn’t fully aware how I was living it differently. This definitely helps me see the difference.

And again, I feel for you, I really do. I haven’t had that much body pain, but I’ve had issues in other ways. It’s a really hard thing to overcome.

<3 You've reminded me to be grateful for my own body. Thanks.

what a great post. thank you.

I’ve been feeling very broken lately – emotionally – and that trickles (or roars) into everything else and then I feel more broken. I am going to be reading this over and over and the comments to try to overcome that.

and sometimes I hear myself saying the stupidest things to my son “I just did something nice for you and now you are acting this way” um yeah…I think…he’s freaking 2 get over yourself but I know when I say those words I am hearing my mother’s voice say them to me. I have to keep reminding myself (and I know its true even when I’m tired) parenting is a privilege. especially with my son.

Grace @ Front Porch Yoga
July 17, 2010 3:42 pm

Thanks so much for your very REAL post. I wanted to reach out to you through e-mail, but couldn’t find your address on your site…anyway, I know it’s helpful for me to not feel so alone when going through life’s challenges (and successes!), and I wanted to share my personal story with you, which I posted on my site a few months ago here: http://www.frontporchyoga.com/2010/05/07/healing-road/
Physical therapy and the Graston technique have helped my shoulder injury immensely, and I’ve learned important lessons about healing along the way. Wishing you continued health and happiness…namaste!

I love your blog, so much. So many of the things you write about stay with me and I return to them for comfort and reflection.

I discuss a lot of what you write with others, but never comment here.

I just wanted to share with you how helpful your honest and thoughtful reflections are to me.

check out the sites of the week – 7.22 « Parent Planet
July 22, 2010 5:03 am

[…] really like this blog and especially this post – I am not broken. I think that is a mantra I need to say over and over again in every part of my […]

I really like your blog. I find something thoughtful and fulfilling everytime I stop by. I linked to it today on mine – http://parentplanet.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/check-out-the-sites-of-the-week-7-22/

Tara, thank you for sharing this part of yourself here. I, too, struggle with severe scoliosis and back pain. I’ve had 2 fusions… which gave NO relief. I’ve tried accupuncture, tradition physical therapy, massage, chiropractic care, you name it. I would love to hear more about your treatments. I pray that you find relief soon. : ) Melissa