But today was different. As she began to work on me I noticed a familiar feeling in my gut: I was angry. Not particularly angry with her but angry that I was still not 100% ok, still not feeling well. 'How are you feeling Damla, is it getting any better?' my therapist asked cheerily as she did in the last few sessions. This time I paused for a bit and then pointing to my upper back said 'it hurts here, it hurts every time I fold forward and there's no relief!'. And as soon as I said those words I knew I had projected my anger onto her. It wasn't her fault that I was in pain and she was doing everything she can to help me. I felt terrible. I wanted to tell her that all she was doing was great and I wanted to tell her I was getting better. But I didn't feel like I was.
Well, we kept silent for the next half an hour, as she worked on me deeper and deeper, and as it hurt more and more I kept quiet and breathed more. As I breathed and my heart got quieter, I decided to open myself to an inquiry. One of my favorite meditation teachers Tara Brach says 'what would you have to feel if you didn't feel angry/sad/fearful/tired, etc..?' So what would I have to feel if I didn't have to feel angry?
I would have to feel that I don't understand this pain and it makes me feel vulnerable as hell. I don't like being vulnerable. I don't like not knowing how to fix myself. I don't like not knowing how 'it' works. How do my muscles, bones, connective tissue work to generate this never-ending pain? Why does it feel like I am lifting a million pounds on my shoulders every time I step out of bed in the morning (or at random times during the day)? And why can't I get rid of it! Why can't I find lasting relief? I want that thing that will fix this pain, make it go away forever. But it is more complex than I give it credit for. When I say that that heat pad worked wonders, it comes back the next day with another layer of ache. When I say that that massage was great, two hours later I am looking for a bulldozer to go over my back, pulverize everything and make it go away. I cannot control it, I cannot make it go away, and I have no idea why it's there.
If I didn't have to feel angry, I would feel scared. If I didn't have to feel angry, I would feel out of control, like a little child, helpless and ready to cry out loud. And at the same time I would have to admit to myself that I am being unreasonable to my pain, pushing it away instead of looking at it closer. This pain wants me to listen to it, it wants my attention. It wants me to look at it from different angles and explore it. It wants my tender attention, my patience, while I am too busy trying to control it and projecting my anger onto others.
As I stayed face down on the massage table, my therapist pushing into my spine deeper and deeper (and not having a clue how much she helped me with her kind silence and patience), this is what I thought of: it is time for me to get into an intimate conversation with my pain. Listen to its sounds, hear its vibrations. I need to accept this journey that it wants to take me. I need to let it move me in mysterious ways, being thankful for momentary relief but not taking it for granted. I need to accept that I may not ever be able to control it (probably I shouldn't!), and it may never fully go away. I need to understand that it is there to teach me something, to show me my own vulnerable self, and to help me meet my compassionate self.
I need to explore. I need to get deeper into my skin. Not fight it, accept it, be with it and grow from it.
Wish me luck!