health, mental health, self-care

Just a Little Further

Warrior ii

There was a time when I practiced yoga or pilates daily. When I stopped, I excused it as being a physical problem. I have had painful tendonitis in both wrists since I was a senior in high school. Many positions, like downward or upward dog, chaturanga, are really hard on my wrists. This is a legitimate excuse and for a time I was practicing on my own, avoiding most of your basic poses that involve pressure on a flexed wrist.

When I was pregnant with Liam I tried doing yoga for a while. Then I became so big that I couldn’t bend far enough past my giant belly to get a decent stretch. Another valid excuse. But when it comes down it, again, XN didn’t want me to. “You’re so distracting.” “We don’t have time for this.” “Why don’t you want to spend time with me?” Sound familiar? At some point, we’re going to come across something that sucks about my life or my past that he had nothing to do with, but for now, this is what’s real.

I have been suffering from chronic pain for well over a year now. After many doctor’s visits, I found a chiropractor who took me seriously and sent me in for an MRI. We were certain we’d find a slipped disc or herniation, but nothing. I was crushed. I am in pain and no one believed me and then the MRI was negative. What is wrong with me?!?! Believing me, he sent me to “the best diagnostician in New Jersey.” I was skeptical of the accolade. I have never felt so cared for and listened to in a medical office. The guy spent an hour and a half with me! AN HOUR AND A HALF! At the end of our time he had a laundry list of diagnoses:

  • Leg length discrepancy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hip bursitis in three locations
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • L2 nerve damage/impingement
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • IT band syndrome
  • Lumbosacral perineural cysts
  • Spinal hemangioma

and we created a plan to tackle it. After three months of twice-weekly physical therapy I am feeling better than I have in a long time, but the muscles in my right hip, lower back and obliques are still problematic. I have been in such a rush to get back to the gym, hit the weights and the elliptical. The weight gain has been significant since pain rendered me mostly inactive.

I recently completed both of Glennon Doyle Melton’s books, Carry on Warrior and Love Warrior. In Love Warrior, she talks about her battle against yoga and her surrender to the practice, how yoga forced her to learn to sit with her discomfort. Not her physical discomfort but the fears and pains in her soul. I’ve been thinking about it since and realize yoga is one of the things I have not tried to ease my pain, in my hip or my heart.

I asked Oliver if he would be working for the night and when he gave me the green light on a half-hour (which means at least 45 minutes) I said “don’t laugh at me. I’m going to do yoga.” No, don’t laugh at me. I still have MTV yoga which is one of my favorite practices. I like the music, I like the instructor, and I love how quickly she moves through poses. She doesn’t give much time for the mind to wander or to dig deep into the soul and I’m OK with that right now. After the first 7 minutes, I thought I might die. But I stuck it out. At one point, I thought I was going to vomit so I came up to stand and got a drink then returned to the practice. I gave myself permission to take the easier versions of some of the poses but almost squealed for joy when I made it in and out of advanced Warrior III. 35 minutes in I thought about quitting but then thought “you’re so close, Elle. Don’t rob yourself of final relaxation.”

We’re so close. I am struggling to keep the momentum up in our family court war. In the last year, we have gotten nowhere and I often feel like throwing in the towel, but then the world speaks up and says “you’re so close, Elle. Don’t rob yourself of final relaxation.” Oliver and I will celebrate three years of marriage tomorrow and there has rarely been a day that we haven’t had to deal with some BS from XN. We deserve final relaxation. I just have to keep pushing through the pain and remember the wonderful thing about yoga and life; just when you think you’ve gone as far as you can go, you take a deep breath in, lift yourself up, exhale, and push yourself a little further than you knew you could.

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