On Friday, I kind of broke down about my body. I ended up staying home from work, sorting through my back pain and the urgent, panicked feelings that come up around it. I spent most of the day deep cleaning my apartment. And then, when I stopped vacuuming and cleaning out my essential oil diffusers long enough to sit with myself, I sobbed. I feel absolutely, suddenly, overwhelmed by my spine, and by my body in general. If you don’t know my whole story, I wrote a big long blog post about it here, two years ago when I found out that basically, my back is fucked. Which essentially translates to: I get headaches, my body holds tension like Beyoncé can hold a squat, and sometimes my back viciously mutinies against me, in the form of sudden, pulsing pain. Back spasms, and lately, neck pain so harsh that not only can I not turn my head, but it feels like a knife is slowly being inserted into the base of my skull. Cool!
Of course, because I am who I am, it took me half the day to decide not to go in on Friday. I thought, I can push through this. I’ll be better by 1. I rode this merry-go-round until about 12:30, when I realized that pushing myself was, duh, making it worse. God, am I an idiot. The truth is, I don’t want to have to deal with this. I also haven’t quite accepted that I do, and will continue to, which is part of the ongoing problem. I need to change my mindset around it. Let go of the idea that I’m doing anything wrong when it arises, and just treat myself with measured calm and kindness. When I experienced my first, and most vicious, back spasms 6 years ago, it was my fault. I had hunched over a computer in my bed for an entire summer, finishing my first novel. Now, not so much. I can have a completely normal week at work, and then boom, sudden pain.
Today, I tell myself, “I can handle this. I can handle and love my body, even though I may not always know how.” My body knows what’s best for me, I just need to listen. Really listen, not hear it cry out and say, “Well, I think I can ignore you and push through, because I have a stronger will than you do.” The truth is, I feel weak, frail, and at fault. I want to love my body, feel amazing and sexy and strong in it. I currently do not. I feel like a frail, gawky chicken bone of a human woman. I’m embarking to fix that. Part of that means I bought myself a new heating pad, and it is AMAZING. You know you’re an adult when you get excited over a heating pad, am I right? Another part? I’m actually GOING to yoga classes. If we’re being honest, I’ve kept my yoga practice securely in my bedroom, because I do not feel strong, hot, or good enough to do it in public. I am seriously afraid that I’m going to do it wrong, so I did it in my room for so long that it stopped really being a helpful tool anymore. Last weekend I went to a Sunday afternoon yoga class, and my body released the tension for once. I didn’t do it wrong, because there is no wrong. There was something really healing in the knowledge that in that space, my body simply couldn’t be weak or inadequate. It could just do what it could do, and that was plenty. I need more of that right now.
I got a little sad on Saturday, because I graduated college just about a year ago now, and I’m left wondering where I am now in comparison to where I was then. Nowhere near as far as I’d like to be, as far as I’d have liked to have gone in a year. In response, Eli said to me, “I love every day with you. Doing the shit we do, getting frustrated about dumb things. I’m happy our life is the way it is right now, and we’re not fast forwarding through this, or else we would’ve never gotten to do this. We’re waiting on focaccia and arguing about dumb shit right now. It’s great!”
In the last year, I’ve relaxed. Calmed down. I’ve lived life with significantly less stress. I started a podcast about mental health, which I now cannot imagine my life without. I went to NYC for an amazing writer’s workshop, started working on a new book, worked my ass off querying my first book to agents, started painting again after six years, went to a conference for entrepreneurs, and gained a new social circle. I’m rediscovering my body; accepting and loving it as it is. I’m rediscovering the creativity that can come from boredom. It’s all completely necessary. I am right where I’m supposed to be.
I wish my body were different. I wish I didn’t have this chronic pain. But if I waste my twenties wishing my back were something it’s not, rather than managing it as is and working to be more comfortable and confident in it all, I think I’ll really regret that. So fuck it. I’m not waiting a second more for my body or life to be what I want in order to go out into the world. I’m not hiding. The only thing I’m waiting on is focaccia, because perfection takes time. In bread, and in life.