it’s very hard to accept that yrmama won’t get well.* Evidence of that difficulty is that I really do think I will get well soon, but genetic collagen defects are forever, man. Plus my advanced age is kicking it in. For example, yrmama was limping like a zombie yesterday, swaying stiffly side to side and constantly on the verge of losing her balance. My foot hurt, but I wanted to keep working, so I did. It was 70F, sunny and I was planting things, clearing brush at the edge of the woods and filling the car with mulch. I like to do stuff. I hate sitting. But finally I had to stop because it was painfully ridiculous to be wobbling around like that and dragging my leg while trying to use heavy tools. Giving in to the big pain in my foot led immediately to feeling bad about myself: I thought I had this foot thing fixed, I thought I had this under control. Maybe I haven’t been doing the exercises the PT prescribed dutifully enough, maybe I should have worn different shoes. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do this when everyone else can?
Until about a year ago I always said, “It’s going to hurt no matter what so I might as well be doing something I like.” Then I began a summery descent into a whole new realm of pain that led to spine surgery. During that un-belayed descent my doctor advised, “This isn’t the time to power through, yrmama,” and “this kind of pain is humbling.”
You’ll be glad to hear that yesterday I surrendered relatively early in the pain spiral. I washed off the poison ivy, took a big slug of CBD and some gabapentin, taped the bottom of my foot within an inch of it’s life and settled my butt down to work on my Etsy shop. I practiced saying to myself, “yrmama? You are doing a good job. The pain comes, the pain goes, some days you can do this, some days you can do that. It’s not about you. It’s not something you can fix or will away. Be humble.”
Meanwhile, my ego had it’s fists all balled up; “So now I’m supposed to obey pain?”
I replied firmly but compassionately, “yrmama, it’s not about obeying or not obeying. This isn’t about effort.” So Buddhist.
I always believed that I was the weak one, the weak willed and weak-bodied, because everyone else seemed to be accepting ~the way this feels~ (aka life in a human body) so much more gracefully. (Or being a huge pain in the ass and complaining all the time. It’s binary. Either/Or.) They must be better at tolerating the pain, they must be better at exercising/choosing shoes/carrying things/running/throwing balls for the dog. What stamina they have. They’ve clearly done enough push-ups, or something, that their elbow doesn’t pop out of joint when they push a full wheelbarrow. Since the solution to my inadequacy was clearly to be stronger I went to fitness classes at the gym five days a week and lifted more weights afterwards. But when I turned fifty everything that was circling my whole life came home to roost.
It turns out a lot of people actually go about their days and activities with ZERO painful body parts and think that’s entirely normal. When they complain about something hurting it’s because it didn’t hurt at all before, not because it’s worse than normal everyday baseline pain. Who knew?
yrmama says, “get yourself some equanimity.”
*But seriously, none of us will. We will not survive life. Except – Great news! Quantum physics!
p.s. my brain is still saying, “yrmama exaggerates. yrmama is a whiner.”