It skulked under my scapula like a secret, waiting for the right time to flare up, maybe when I was holding a freshly opened bottle of Kombucha, or when I was attempting to make change for someone else, causing enough pain for me to dump my drink or toss coins in someone's face.
Week after week, I would come to the cold room with the same problem. My chiropractor, disappointed that it had not abated, asking suspiciously if I had been doing my exercises, not believing me when I said I had. I was dissapointed in my lack of success, and he was too. It didn't make things better.
But the pain that comes from within cannot be cured from without. This is physics. This is gospel. The more I shrunk myself to fit into a job that would have me be less than I was, the more I would stretch myself to do more and more in my relationship as I watched my partner disintegrate, the more I fought back the tears over the deaths of my parents, the more this pain persisted. The more my body tried to get my attention. And I never made the connection.
How could I not know that my body was trying to get me to take care, to slow down, to pay attention to everything I was giving up in order to keep going? How could I not know that all of the ways that I bent myself, all the ways that I tried to fit into boxes would eventually surface as the physical pain that would persist through the many guaranteed cures that were thrown at me?
I just didn't.
And then, in a miraculous explosion of emotion and rage and force, I freed myself. It had nothing to do with the pain, what I did to get free of all of it, but after, I knew. One week later, I awoke pain free, and I cried. I cried for days. I cried for the loss of myself, my marriage, my job, my parents, and the life I thought I was going to live. All of it.
My cats sat staring as I would walk from room to room, crying and blowing my nose, the cheap beige carpet in my nondescript cube of an apartment strewn with snotty tissue. All of it bright red and purple pain. All of it orange, green and blue sadness, grief, resentment, desperation, all the things I would not allow myself to feel came pouring out of me. My beige apartment finally began to take on life.
In the quiet of the aftermath, I built a wailing wall of my last life. I would sit and stare at all of it for hours, wondering how it got away from me.
Then one day, I took it all down, put it in a gallon jar, and I was done.
And I have not felt that pain since.
The new pain is instructive. I listen to it attentively and move quickly when my wise old body sends me these miraculous signals. That dark time, where I forced my life into a corner and dared myself to come out, pushed me into the open. I won't hide anymore.
And now, when I feel anger in my right hamstring, or sadness in my ankles, I listen. I make my own map. I do what my body needs and in the end, I am free. In the end, my body, my friend, heals me.