How Flexible Are You?

On The Road in Texas

January 11, 2020

Eighteen months ago I developed a bad case of sciatica. My bad - “a bad case of sciatica” is like saying “very unique.” There are no degrees of sciatica - it just hurts like hell.

When I went to physical therapy, Jody (my physical therapist) told me I was one of the stiffest people she had ever seen, especially in my hamstrings. Thanks to Jody, I have stretched my hamstrings every day since then and have over doubled my range of motion - some days I can exceed 80 degrees. 😁 I have also worked diligently on increasing my flexibility in my hips and my back; I am no longer the stiffest person Jody has ever met. 🤙. I’m proud of that accomplishment. 😎🤙

My lack of flexibility wasn’t just limited to my muscles, ligaments and joints. I had another kind of rigidity - one that was much more insidious. I was emotionally rigid. And worse yet, I did not consciously know that I was. I thought resilience was the ability to run into a wall as many times as it took to knock it down. Given that definition, I thought I was very resilient. In fact, that was standard MO and the trait I attributed to my “success.”

I was wrong; I suffered from another “ity” word - stupidity. I thought it was wrong to show emotions, especially negative ones. If I had negative emotions, I swallowed them. I thought showing vulnerability was, well, a weakness. I both bottled my emotions and feelings and brooded Over them.

Eventually, I broke. You can can only bottle and brood so long before your body, your brain and your soul snap - they can’t take the stress any longer.

The break led to depression, panic attacks and I suspect eventually later to my heart attack. And my reaction to my heart attack - more turning inward. More shame. More my believing that something(s) was wrong with me. Being so ashamed that my shame prevented me from being the person my partner fell in love with. That I had flaws that were fundamental to who I was/am that’s what shame is).

Why am I sharing this? Because I now understand that one of the reasons I am still here is to help others who are too hard on themselves, who feel shame, who emotional shock absorbers are worn down, who are having emotional troubles having survived a life-threatening events.

Not only did I hurt myself, bu more painfully t I hurt those who loved me. If I can help just one person not go down the rabbit hole as I did, then I will have done part of what I am here to do. Hopefully I can help more than that.

Please understand - I am not looking for sympathy nor am I trying to make you uncomfortable by being open with my past. I guess I am hoping that by sharing I might be able to help someone.

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