It’s been a rough week for a lot of people. Just reading my Facebook feed, I see lots of flu, stuff breaking, bills landing, pets and children going awry – it’s just been a tough week for most of us. This includes me. What started as lower back pain in the beginning of last week progressed until Friday my left leg and hamstring hurt so much that my partner found me at 5 am, crying because of the intense physical pain. A visit to my local clinic got me some muscle relaxers and a recommendation I sit on ice.
So during my first big accomplishment of the year, the Doctor Who meetup finally making it into a theater that can house most of our members at once, I was just one side of drooling on myself. Mike had to take the stage on my behalf, since I can’t stand on this leg for any length of time.
But at least the big thing #2 for 2013 still happened. (#1 being the house, although technically that’s a 2012 finale.)
This week has been mostly about managing pain around being almost totally unable to walk… in my new house, where you must go up or down two flights of stairs to get anywhere.
I can’t help comparing how my partner has handled me to how my birth family would have handled me. Words like “oh, you’re a hypochondriac,” would never escape my partner’s mouth. To him, my feelings and experiences are valid. He does not have to have experienced what I am feeling to recognize that I am feeling what I say I am feeling. If I am in physical pain it’s totally safe to tell him so. This, right here, is why we work as a mixed faith/non-faith couple.
While I sometimes get aggravated when he does not take what I experience as seriously as I want him to- being the oldest male child in a patriarchal family loses its privileges after you take me on for your primary relationship – he never dismisses my health problems, even if he sometimes disagrees with me about the right course of treatment.
He’s had to learn how to be a caretaker – in healthy relationships, you both have to take turns at that. I came with the skills ingrained in me. I detest the reason I was taught those skills – no parent should decide that “this daughter goes to market and this one stays home.” Children are not slaves and to establish such expectations is slavery at its most insidious. All the same, the skills in and of themselves have value.
He doesn’t do it for show, either – he does it because he genuinely wants me to get well, not because he wants his community to think he’s a good person. He’d rather actually be a good person. The doors are shut to the outside world this week, and my sweetie is doing what you’re supposed to do with the people you love – striving to be his very best. I know from multiple direct experiences that my birth family would likely be demanding I cook them all dinner by now. I have to wonder how I would have been treated after I broke my collarbone in the 5th grade if the whole incident hadn’t happened so publicly.
Again, this puts my partner far and above my birth family.
So while the screaming pain and difficulty walking has marked my week, my partner’s compassion has also marked it – and me. We’re going to see a chiropractor today, and I’m feeling optimistic about it, especially since the pain in my leg, while still intense seems to randomly change muscle groups. I got myself off of the muscle relaxers after three days (they didn’t do that much for me) and by yesterday I even managed to switch out the ibuprofen for Tylenol.
Of course I’m scared – my favorite two things to do are to write and to dance. I can do neither when in that much physical pain. But I’m pretty sure this can be fixed. I’m hopeful.
In some distant way I can already see this incident as a metaphor for the work I’ve been doing in the past two years. In 2011 and 2012 much of the inner work has been laying down burdens that were never really mine to carry, that were assigned me by people who had no business handing them off. If it lacked mutuality, I let it go. If it had no reward for me, I dropped it. If it opened wounds, I stepped away. I have forgiven things that merit forgiveness, called for justice those things that call for justice, and sought healing for the physical, psychological and psychic damage taken over the years. Perhaps I broke some rules of polite society by doing what I have – but let’s face it, society hasn’t been all that polite in a very long time.
I don’t do zero sum game or socially violent relationships anymore. If a person brags that she “tells everything” and she uses “whisper campaigns” to get her way then she’s making it clear she can’t be trusted – so I won’t trust her, not in my home, not in my heart. If someone walks up to me and tells me how I need to lose weight, that’s aggressive social violence – and there’s no room for that in the State of Diana. If someone lies to me, misrepresents me or takes out a temper tantrum on me – and online temper tantrums count – I’m done. If someone whines that I don’t take criticism, that too is social violence – and it ignores that as a professional writer and a woman who often takes on public leadership positions, I am phenomenally skilled at not just taking criticism but knowing what criticism to take.
In years past when I’ve experienced this much pain it’s closely paired with depression. That’s not what’s happening this time. The pain to the point of tears has sucked, yes, but it’s not a “this is everything that’s wrong with my life,” pain. It’s a “holy crap my leg hurts,” rather than any additional soul pain.
There will be of course someone out there who, seeing that I’m feeling better on a cellular level, will set about attempting to make me miserable. I’m ready for it, with every IP blocking spam button I have.
This is a Year of Big Things. Perhaps Big Healing will be part of those big things.
I really hope this chiropractor in no way resembles the Homer Simpson roll you on a garbage can approach.