My relationship with pain was never discussed in any physical therapy program.
I’m talking about that split-second moment when pain shows up how we respond to it. That space in-between feeling and reacting. That never examined conversation between you and discomfort.
I had only one tool to use when I felt pain, resistance. I knew damn well how to resist and fight pain.
Every day felt like a fight to make it through; fighting became my default response to everything.
Every movement sent me on a collision path with a sensation I had come to hate. A sensation that yanked me away from living life as an 8x All-American Division 1 elite athlete. A sensation that plunked me into the life of someone challenged by a single flight of stairs.
Each simple movement exposed a cold hard truth; I’m going to be miserable forever.
I could feel the loud difference in how my left side moved compared to my right side. I felt the restriction each time I asked my left hip to move. It didn’t matter which movement; all movement hurt. Each change of position squeezed disc jelly into every nerve that moved my left leg.
I hated my body and treated it as so.
Anytime limitation showed up, I fought my way through. I pulled the tighter muscles harder, swallowed my breath, and tensed up my body as if I was preparing to go to war. Looking back I guess I always thought I would have a ‘breakthrough’ moment. I thought I would hear some ‘click’ or ‘pop,’ and everything would snap back into working order again. But, that never happened.
I kept trying to use anger and force my way through change until a different path one day showed up.
My pain only knew how to push back when I pushed; it didn’t know what to do when I showed up ready to love it. My nerves didn’t know how to fight when met with compassion.
I put my body into a familiar pain-triggering position and closed my eyes. This was the first time in years I tried to love myself. A tear came before the words.“Thank you for protecting me after my back broke on those rocks.”
“Thank you for showing me how to listen. Thank you for showing me how to ask for help.”
“I will allow you to stay and teach me if you want, but I don’t need you here anymore.”