This isn’t the first time this happened. Years ago, weeks ago, you issued the same pleas in the form of an aching back. First it started with a pinch, a whisper. This week it was an all-out roar.
The act of bending down was dicey. Walking fully upright didn’t feel very good. Rolling over in bed took effort (and produced pain). Walking too quickly triggered spasms (and a shout of “ouch!” inside my brain).
You know that I love a challenging workout. I love how empowered I feel after doing many push-ups. It is a reminder that I am strong. Every push-up shatters the stories my brain has spun for years of not being an athlete, of being awkward, of being weak.
You also know that I can get carried away. Feeling the dumbbells in my hands, the music pumping through my body, I start to feel invincible. Feeling the heaviness of my breath, my feet meeting the pavement, I feel energized, awake.
I feel alive, less anxious, the insecurities and stressful thoughts melting.
And so I push you. I push you hard. One more set. One more rep. One more step.
But there must be a middle ground — between shattering negative, distorted stories and ending up with a crooked, aching back.
Body, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for ignoring your gentle whispers, for beating you up. I’m sorry for neglecting your needs, for pretending you didn’t even have any.
I’m sorry for getting frustrated with you and wishing you’d work harder. I’m sorry for comparing you to others, and measuring your worth by the actions you perform.
Today, we will stretch together. I promise to listen to your signals and do my best to respond.
Today, we’ll stand under the hot water, letting it work out the kinks and aches.
Today, I will give you a massage, particularly the neck, where you also know I hold a lot of stress and tension. And, of course, that poor lower back, where the pain resides.
Thank you for sticking with me, even as I stumble and trip (literally! you know how clumsy I am). Thank you for letting me experience life with a heightened awareness, to feel the aroma of certain foods, to feel the violin as if it were inside my mind making the melody.
I have to remind myself that you are a strong vessel whether I can do 30 push-ups or not, whether I can sprint or walk. You are a strong vessel when I’m sitting on the couch or falling asleep in bed.
This is hard to remember. But I will try. For both of us.