Stupid Back

My physical therapist said "this isn't the back a 30 y/o should have." To which my reply was "I know, STUPID BACK .&quo...

My physical therapist said "this isn't the back a 30 y/o should have."
To which my reply was "I know, STUPID BACK."

I keep on saying "stupid back" to just about anything -- like when I have trouble bending, moving or walking, getting out of a chair, why I'm late to work, why I don't want to go out for lunch, why I don't do anything when I come home, when rehab hurts, when someone touches me in a way that hurts -- it's just the offhand shorthand of saying "I really have this long and complicated history with my back that is part genetics and part trauma and I'm physically and emotionally tired of it."  My "Stupid Back" is what is depressing me and making me feel miserable.  My "Stupid Back" became enemy numero uno. 

On Sunday, I was feeling moderately okay (about a 3/4 on my 10 point pain scale), so I decided to go for a little walk while listening to my favorite podcast by Tara Brach.  Before I realized that it was on shuffle (instead of listening to the most recent one), my iPod landed on "Remembering Love."  The universe was trying to tell me something, to remind me of something.

(roughly quoting) We actually do perceive it like we're struggling against something that's bad.  That is one of the ways that we contract.  Like we're kind of at war with something bad in ourselves.  One of the greatest truths that we always forget is that if we don't regard this life, right here, with love, we can't be happy, and we can't really love our world..... We don't realize how we're turned against ourselves... Every one of us, we're all casted by forces beyond our control.  Just casting.  When we believe that the imperfect cover to our being is what we are, we're in trouble.  Every one of us has these same conditionings, to want to grasp, and to be afraid, and to push away, and to pretend, we all protect.  We all have those forces in us.  The description that the Buddha gave to how we get ourselves in trouble, the First Arrow, this casting, these conditions that we all have, is absolutely inevitable. Our nervous system is rigged, just geared for fight or flight.  The First Arrow is a given; the Second Arrow is optional.  We don't have to react and take personally this conditioning.  I've translated it to "Leaning is a given; knocking ourselves over is optional."
I don't want to quote more because I think it's worth a listen -- but I needed to be reminded of the Buddha's teaching that suffering (the First Arrow) is unavoidable.  Adding judgment and the insult to the injury (Second Arrow) is optional.

My wanting to have a healthier back is (I think) of a normal desire (to want to be healthy) -- but it puts me in this cycle of wanting things to be other than they are.  Having people say "i wish it wasn't like this for you" is kind, but it adds to distancing myself from "what is."

Saying "Stupid Back" distances me from the healing because it makes it seem like my back is the enemy, when my back is what suffers most (I know the brain steers the ship, but the epicenter of the damage is my spine, not my brain).  I've been shooting the second arrow straight into what needed the most compassion and love.   I turned my back...on my back.

To that end, I've amended the goals I keep on my whiteboard in my apartment (see right).  If you can't read the very last line, it is "forgive the injury." 

I'm going to try and catch myself more when I'm doing this.  It's definitely not helping me to have this adversarial relationship with my injury.  It needs care, love, and respect in order for it to get the healing it heeds.

While I feel "broken," I'm going to choose to say that my "repairs are in process."

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4 comments

  1. Yes. Beautifully expressed. This is how I feel about my anxiety...I rail against it and then I accept it as is. Back and forth. But I am caring for it and for myself as best as I can.

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  2. It's really hard when the thing hurting you is not some external force or enemy, but your own self. The instincts we have and the lessons we have been taught to protect ourselves from the "other" don't work when the hurt comes from inside. That kind of hurt needs an abundance of love and compassion.

    **big hugs** I'm glad you've found that acceptance and nurturing are the road to healing.

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  3. "Stupid brain" is uttered by my mouth so many times a day. This post really hits home for me. The headaches, vision problems, exhaustion and overall feeling of helplessness toward this condition results in that phrase. I fight against the pain and have conversations with my brain "if you just let me be pain free today I can work on helping you feel better".
    I am taking this "I don't want to quote more because I think it's worth a listen -- but I needed to be reminded of the Buddha's teaching that suffering (the First Arrow) is unavoidable. Adding judgment and the insult to the injury (Second Arrow) is optional."
    to heart.
    I'm sure I've quoted this at you before but my favorite artist has some amazing quotes.
    "Fate is what happens to you, destiny is what you make of it."
    "As long as I live I will have control over my being." Artemisia Gentileschi
    So I guess what I'm trying to say is thank you for framing this for me.

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  4. I like Oprah's quoting (from somewhere??) of "Fate is the intersection of opportunity and preparedness" -- in other words, it's a moment in time, not a lifetime sentence.

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<3 Robby