My Lessons in Pink
At the beginning of this month one of the worst fears of a massage therapist came true for me. I had an accident and broke my wrist. I wish it was some epic tale that I could boast about, like saving a kitten from a house fire or battling some scrupulous looking character downtown. Sadly however, my tale of woe began with me simply taking the trash out and succumbing to a flight of icy stairs.
This whole ordeal is a continuing learning experience for me. A healing process that has forced me into some uncomfortable places of vulnerability and surrender. More specifically, although I do take care of myself on many levels, I’m used to being the caretaker/healer. When that’s on hold, it really highlights some cracks in the foundation, and leaves space for contemplation and reflection which brings up both the good and the ugly within. And so The School of Life has been handing me some hard homework to contend with, and frankly I don’t like it. Yet growth, learning and healing often come hand-in-hand (ha-ha pun intended), and this is what I’ve discovered so far.
1.Idleness is so difficult. Normally I’m constantly doing something. If I'm not reading, researching, or writing, taking classes and workshops, teaching classes and workshops, working with clients, taking care of family, cooking, cleaning, chorus etc., I get uncomfortable. I keep doing this even when I’m at my limit, but if I’m going to be honest, it’s to avoid feeling my emotions. There’s a certain level of programming from childhood that, if I’m not doing something, I’m not good enough. I must be productive; I must push myself. Our capitalistic society doesn’t help this narrative either. Ironically, I broke my wrist just about the same time we all went into shut-down with the pandemic 3 years ago. There’s been eerie similarities to both experiences, where I’m kind of stuck in place, can’t work, not sure what do, having to navigate governmental agencies for income (I filed for short-term disability insurance and that’s a whole other story), and then suddenly having all the time in the world, but in freeze-mode and not really being able to get things done. It’s a weird polarity to be in.
2.I’m tired, like really tired. When you’re on the go so much you never realize how tired you are. There are different levels to being tired too. We can be tired, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and are often a combination of these. While I know my body is in healing mode, I’ve been sleeping a lot. There have been days I would get up to do a few things, and then nap for a few hours, and you know what I felt? Not restfulness, just guilt. Guilt again that I’m not being productive, or lazy because I’m sleeping while others are working. I had to compassionately challenge this guilt to find the root of its claims. What I realized is, I felt I didn’t deserve the rest, that it wasn’t something afforded to me, even though I preach it all the time to my clients. That somehow, I’m the laziest person. Funny though, as you just read, I struggle with the stillness. Not only was I healing from the physical injury with some intense pain, I was also working to process the trauma of the event, and all the other stresses of my life. I work hard in therapy to help heal myself, work hard at my job, friends/family relationships, and other obligations. There is so much going on underneath the surface, that the need for rest came fast and furious. In some ways I’m grateful for the break, maybe not the bone break, but the pause in motion. I will continue to strive to find a better balance in this for myself, but in the meantime, I’m learning the subtle art of the nap, and compassionately allowing it as best I can.
3.Accepting help is so cringeworthy. From the moment the accident happened, I went into survival mode. I organized what I needed to do, who I needed to contact, and how I was going to move forward, all into a neat plan, all on my own. Well, this plan had some major flaws, even though I was quite certain it was fool-proof. Planning life, however, is one of the funny fallacies that we keep on perpetually thinking we are in control of and, especially if you’re American, doing it all on your own. With the wise words of my therapist ringing in my ears, “We never heal on our own, we aren’t meant too, otherwise you would have done it already,” I had to surrender to the fact, that I needed help, though the process of asking, let alone accepting help, is so messy for me. Asking for help feels like I failed at something, and in the past, I was often shamed for asking for support or guidance. I was told in few words, “figure it out on your own.” So, I’ve learned to trust only asking certain individuals for help, but I need to get comfortable asking a larger circle. When people have reached out and offered financial support, groceries, food prep, laundry, I didn’t know what to do with it. I quickly told people I’m okay, which was partly true, but as the weeks went on, that okay became not so okay. Why would these people want to support me? I can’t possibly take from them, I’ll feel indebted. The bigger issue was, I didn’t want people to think I failed at being an adult, that I was some type of screw-up. Boy-oh-boy, the stories in our head can really play a number on us. These lovely people wouldn’t offer if they couldn’t or didn’t want to, yet I felt so small and stupid until a good friend pointed out that I am neither. While he helped me realize that my thoughts were overrun with emotion, he also pointed out that, if the tables were turned, I would be just as generous, supportive, and helpful, as I very often am. Sitting with this feeling, I struck gold in a larger spiritual sense. “I have a hard time receiving.” Money, compliments, accolades, they all feel prideful or even dirty, that somehow, I don’t deserve them, I don’t deserve any help. I need to earn them instead of deserving them simply because I exist. I began to reflect on my own journey, manifesting the life that I want, and how there must be an exchange for the universe to support us in attaining our desires. You must receive, to give, otherwise you’re missing the point.
I’m still healing my wrist, and it will take a little more time before I’m back seeing clients. I’m doing my best to reframe a lot of this down-time, and I hope that my sharing can be a gentle reminder that even healers need help, and that we are all just doing the very best we can navigate this crazy experience we call life.
3/22/2023 05:59:42 am
Good morning Dan, I’ve been thinking about you a lot since vijay your pink banner arrived. Your post really hits home for me and I am continuously learning about balance with give-and-take and rest and productivity. And then there’s been productive rest, and yet my mind does the same thing as yours… I find it interesting that you broke it at the beginning of the pandemic, and now, again, I would be interested in the astrological aspects of that. Looking back on my history, and there are patterns for opportunities to rest. I called the accidents that happened like my head injury, codependent vacations. I’ve learned a lot in the last 25 years and keeping with my focus in my balance in regards to my schedule, doing, and rest and self-care. I could go on, but I want you to know how valuable you are and the gift that you give with your insight, and post on Facebook. Big hugs to you. Hope to meet you in person someday Marie Ruxton.
3/22/2023 09:34:57 am
3/22/2023 07:12:53 am
Sending positive vibes Dan:)
3/22/2023 09:32:48 am
Thank you Chet!
3/22/2023 08:44:32 am
Feeling this... Thank you for putting into words what free of us do. Matt you find peace and heal well. ❤️
3/22/2023 09:32:28 am
Thank you Dawn <3
3/22/2023 08:54:54 am
I relate to ALL of this so deeply. Thanks for being so real and sharing your experience. Hope you have a quick and easy physical recovery and you reach a settled place where you can feel okay with the stillness! It can be so hard. Thinking of you!
3/22/2023 09:31:59 am
Thank you Hilary, I am improving well. I appreciate the kindness and learning to enjoy the stillness.
Christine E. Robinson
3/22/2023 10:25:47 am
Dan, you have done a stellar job working your way to acceptance in this physical healing experience. I knew you could do it. Even though, I’m sorry you had to go through it. It’s always a learning experience. One we hopefully come away a stronger person. Healing hugs for you. 🧡🎶 Christine
3/23/2023 10:35:57 am
“You must receive, to give, otherwise you’re missing the point.” So true, and such a good quote! A lot of what you said definitely resonates. Speaking from experience, if one is always giving, and not allowing the receiving, the well eventually runs dry. But it’s all easier said than done, as far as changing patterns and behaviors. Sending love and healing your way!
Leave a Reply.
A Hands on Journey !
Some funny and insightful musings from a massage therapist and his healing practice.