When I’m doing the priority dance right, the steps feel light. I might be pulled quickly between directions, but my steps are instinctive, sure. And I feel the pulls attracting me as shaping my dance rather than competing for my energy and time. Sure, I would love to have more time. Who wouldn’t? But I feel peace about my choices.
I don’t always feel that way, of course. Right now I feel downright resentful about where some of my time is going and how my choices are constricted. And I am resisting the pulls I feel, instead of lightly and without attachment adjusting my steps for a while to suit.
I am resenting and resisting my body, which hurts a lot of the time because of some mysterious misbehavior in my upper back. As I write this, I notice that even the metaphor I began this post with involves my dancing body. I use dancing metaphors all the time because to me dance can encompass all of me in a way that nothing else really does. But literal dancing is fleeting just now– I can do it only a few minutes at most– and edged with the threat of accidentally overdoing it and causing burning pain that once awoken can take days to calm down.
“I hate that,” I said to a fellow coach about all this, “I just hate that.” Part of me wanted to just repeat that over and over to her for a while as a tearful mantra. Part of me felt seriously annoyed with myself for being so upset when other people have far more serious illnesses, disabilities and problems. A lot of attachment going on to some pretty harsh perspectives. A lot of emotional flailing.
The back pain is one of those situations where I can only control what I do; I can’t control the outcome. So in an effort to address the issue more meaningfully, I decided to treat fixing my back as a project fully co-equal with the other major things on my plate right now. To me, that meant things like writing up a document with goals, action items and notes. Making sure that something is always happening to try to move forward. Giving the project a name– I chose Body Temple Love, to help reinforce the values that make taking care of myself important to me. To some these steps might feel unimportant, but to me they are part of making intentions real. And I intend to take my body seriously, whether I resent it or not.
Of course adding another big project to my plate means making space for it. I pushed out plans for other things that I really want to do this year, lightening my own workload. I don’t know how much I will have to keep pushing out in the name of fixing my back… getting to appointments, doing exercises and whatever else might be involved as I keep trying different approaches and hope that I find something that works.
But I am going to live in this body for a long time to come, I hope. I need to take care of it. I am worthy of taking care of myself including this body. I can’t keep pretending that if I ignore pain it will go away. I can’t tell myself that just because I virtually did all my physical therapy exercises, the universe owes me predictable healing on a neat and tidy schedule. Sometimes things don’t work that way.
It’s funny, but when LittleA gets sick and I lose sleep and work time as a result, I might resent the situation but I don’t ever resent LittleA or the needs of his little body. Somehow, in my mind, his illnesses simply come with the territory of being a parent. I accept them with a love and matter-of-factness that seems a lot harder to bring to my perspective around my own body’s less-than-perfect functioning.
Bodies falter, even fail. That comes with the territory of being alive. (And it’s better than the alternative.) Overall, in fact I enjoy very good health – even my back is not limiting my major activities too much. I am careful with lifting and I can’t walk as far or dance as long as I could before, but I can still move about, walk, drive and do all kinds of other life tasks. I am grateful for my own health, and I am grateful for my family’s health, and I am grateful for the access we have to medical care. Gratitude, acceptance and conscious choice are the only things I know of that can cut through resentment. I will keep trying to open myself to them.
What do you do when you resent your own needs? How do you work with yourself to accept them, and yourself, more lovingly?
P.S. Please, please, please don’t give me any advice on fixing or healing back issues. Thank you for understanding!