I have rheumatoid arthritis in my spine and hips, and sometimes it hurts a lot. At least it spurs me to take action and move towards being healthier.
It really helps when I take a hot bath with epsom salts, put on one of my Chinese medicine patches and then lie on the floor for a while and let my spine unkink. (It's sort funny that work and stress can LITERALLY get me bent out of shape.)
I don't do these things very often, and today I figured out why: I'm terrified that I won't be able to get out of the tub or up from the floor. Yeah, I've almost had to call for help in the past. I live alone now, and I can't imagine having to scream and scream until my neighbours came by…. Oh, the horror of needing help to get out of the tub!
But it hasn't happened yet, and I'm not nearly as disabled as I used to be. I CAN get out of the tub; I just have to do it really slowly, and it hurts.
So I took a very long hot bath, then put on a patch and lay on the floor for an hour. Gradually, my spine unbent. I cried. I breathed into my muscles, tendons and ligaments, felt my ribcage realign, moved my hips, arms, shoulders and let the floor massage me. I let my thoughts flow freely.
I thought about how this Spark journey will take as long as it takes, and no amount of impatience will speed it up.
I thought about how feelings come and go, and while I'm feeling wretched and self-piteous now, I was on fire with optimism two days ago -- and last week I was super depressed and anxious about work, but one good conversation with my boss turned that right around.
I thought about how amazing and supportive and caring all my friends are -- on Spark and in person.
I thought about my friend who is going through a very difficult time (three cases of cancer in her immediate family, and her mom rapidly dying), and how that friend is still beating herself up about not accomplishing as much as she thinks she should. And I decided to cut myself a lot more slack, like I wish she would do for herself. So what if my room stays messy? My shoulder feels like it's being sliced with hot knives, so I probably won't get around to tidying it up. Who the frak cares?
I thought about how I've been craving treats lately, and how that might mean that I need some sweetness in my life. I think I ought to call my mom, tell her I need some of her sweet, kind words.
And this thought keeps running through my mind: every stretch is a gift. Every stretch is a gift I give to myself. With a thought like that, it's no wonder I'm stretching more! I stretch and get to know my body. I learn where the tension lies. Maybe I'll unbend a little.
If I take care of myself every day, give myself what I need, my pain is lessened. I've seen amazing changes from doing that over time. It's just like this Spark journey: baby steps, consistency, perseverance, support…and that's success, right there.