I denied the declaration that I was a brat with such vehemence that I stomped my foot.
This makes for good comedy.
But it’s not untrue, that adamant denial. The truth isn’t that I’m a brat – it’s that I’m scared fuckless of doing what I’m told.
I’ve been healing from a weird injury that seems to have slammed me at a weird time. (This seems digressive. It’s only a little.)
A few weeks ago, I scheduled a massage for a Saturday; I knew my arm/neck whatever wasn’t altogether sorted out. Eight or ten weeks of 60+hrs of work (a new thing) was maybe holding on too hard and twisted up a bit. The day before that appointment, I got to work and dove into a right fiasco of emails, but then struck half blind by panic: my hands went numb, then burning, then – fuck this, I’ll take a sick day. (It may be the first sick day I’ve ever had?)
“Massage” has such soothing connotations. There was someone I once knew who called it “body work” and someone else who called it “manipulation.” The nods those words make are more mechanical, and also more accurate. It’s not that I’m carrying a bit of overtime tension; I’m in some measure of disrepair. After the first, I booked four appointments, weekly.
Week 1. (An email exchange with the massage therapist/torturer)
8L: I have been so close to crying, which I think would help if it wasn’t stuck. Thoughts?
CB: Go talk to yourself in the mirror about what you’re feeling…not what you think you’re feeling, but just the feelings.
Give yourself permission to feel those feelings.
8L: the mirror I have at my place only shows from my collarbones to 18” above my head. heh. I’m no help with all your good words.
CB – that’s a fine mirror…this isn’t a body image exercise…this is facing yourself eye to eye exercise…:D Use a compact mirror if you have to…lol
8L: Dammit, that excuse was supposed to get me out of doing it.
Week 2: (written after I planned to sleep off a headache/hot day)
It didn’t happen — that sleep. I couldn’t lay still.
I got up, frustrated, agitated, too too too near that edge of panic; taking the hot weather so very personally. I drew a bath with lavender and rosemary oil. I twisted and growled, I cleaned my whole place, cooked 3 days of lunches & dinners. I cleaned more. I took out trash, did push-ups and squats; I cursed and found myself standing in front of the only mirror I have.
No, I can’t I can’t do this I don’t need to i don’t have to I don’t want to I can’t I can’t- I turned away and looked at the wall.
I faced my reflection. I spoke.
I am good at what I do.
I am very tired.
I sometimes feel really lonely.
I am a triangle.
I did this on my own.
I knelt, wrapping my arms around my middle. I grabbed for and sobbed into my skirt, so confused. What am I still clutching? What’s in my fists? Why?
Week 3: The Braces.
I think I’m improving, but my job is not slowing down just yet, and doing no overtime means I’m falling behind. I know it’s a season, but I’m told of my hands: “they’re not going to last much longer.” Get wrist & elbow braces, he says. Wear them.
Fuck fuck fuck. The fucking things work, they’re bloody Pavlovian. The first day, I keep yelping, “ow!fuck!” and half trying to convince myself “that hurts because the brace must be wrong.”
I say I feel like a muzzled dog dressed out for the roller derby.
It’s a huge revelation: the stays (they are metal) kept hurting as I moved in one way or another because I am digging in and pitbulling, bending in ways that hurt not because the brace is bad. How many other things do I dig in about without assessing the part I play in making things difficult? To what else am I beholden for no good reason?
During the last appointment, there was some moment I slipped away. I remember thinking, “I could just let go instead of being terrified of what happens if I do.” The bit of my side – top of my rib cage, behind/below my armpit? That’s a scary place – why does a girl with wings keep all the things she’s afraid of right beneath them? How much further could I fly without that weight?
This is the long way to come round to say that I’m afraid of doing what I’m told because I did that before (not a new story, I’m not the only or the last one to have it to tell). To comply, I wagered the fortune of my security and happiness. And I lost it.
I’m not afraid of someone else telling me what to do, I’m afraid I’ll forget why I’d do it, who I am.
But I am in love with the taste of the sky when I can let go instead of being terrified of what happens if I do.