This week my shoulders have been aching so much it’s been waking me up at night. They hurt like when I have gardened too much and spent the day digging and pulling weeds, or after a 2 day dragon boat festival. The thing is, I had been doing neither this past week.
I have also been waking up in the wee hours of the morning with “Henny Penny” running around in my head and this feeling that there is too much to do and I will get none of it done. I have been thinking about quitting the teams I am on and to resign from the committees I am on, but I know I don’t want to do this. In reality it’s only a few things I need to do and I have lots of time…so the two sides of my brain have been having a tug of war and I seem to be the causality.
Historically this has always been a bad time of the year for me, which is ironic because I love spring. But it’s always been a struggle. When I was a kid, up until grade 7, I was sick every Easter, it did not matter what day Easter landed on I was sick. Now that I look back I see that this time of year I would find life very overwhelming and I would have issues with school, work, relationships and life in general.
I had therapy on Friday afternoon and we looked at my records and we could see I have been in the hospital many times in the spring and very big issues have come up that I have needed to work on. This last hospitalization was no different, but hopefully it was one, if not the very first times I fractured. So hopefully this time next year will be easier.
As my therapist and I worked on the event that made me fracture we came to realize why my shoulders hurt and why I feel I need to quit everything.
As most of us know when we are in danger, or perceive danger we go into the fight, flight or freeze mode. We either fight, run away from the danger-Flight, -or freeze and stand still and hope no one will notice or see us. We see it in wildlife all the time. What is not talked about as much is “submit and collapse.” In animal terms this is playing possum. When there is no getting away this is the ultimate defense tool. In the case of a possum it plays dead, hoping whatever was interested in eating him will lose interest in it. In my case, I played possum; I shut down, or collapsed inward. Now this was a great defensive tool, as it helped me survive, but the problem comes when it interferes with my present life.
Intellectually I know I am no longer in danger. I can tell myself and this newest part with the memories that we are no longer in danger but my body remembers and is reacting like I am back there. These are body memories, (somatic memories) my shoulders hurt and it does not take much for Henny Penny to take center stage. My body remembers being overwhelmed and the only way to survive was play possum, so when things start to feel a little too much for me, I, subconsciously collapse inward.
My mind knows I am safe, but the body does not and it is holding this energy deep in the muscle and I need to work to get it out. I am working with my therapist on this, with somatic exercises and this action allows my body to know- reassuringly- that I got away and grew up. I am trying to get the muscles to understand that they no longer need to collapse when I get stressed, especially this time of the year.
In my stained art glass I used lead cane to frame my project. You buy lead cane in 6 foot strips; it’s very soft and pliable and it folds over on itself. When you want to use it, lay it on a table, put one end in a vice, straighten it out to make sure all the kinks are out, and then you put the other end in a pair of pliers and pull it straight back. When you stretch the lead becomes oxidized and it becomes straight and stiff and is no longer floppy.( you can see this on U Tube) I was amazed when I saw this, it was like magic.
I guess this is what I am working on with my somatic exercises, I guess that's what these exercises do, stops me from slumping over on myself so I no longer subconsciously slump over and play possum when I am triggered.
I started working on this with my therapist on Friday and I was amazed at how my shoulders no longer hurt and Henny Penny was nowhere to be found. She has been by for a few quick visits over the weekend and I felt overwhelmed and I know this work is going to take time, but I know from experience that with hard work, it can get better.
Those are my thoughts for today
Cheers and be well and may you only have lightness on your shoulders