I woke up in the middle of the night in pain.
Lately, I’ve been waking up around 4 or 5 in the morning. Sometimes it is because of the wind, winding around our corner apartment, creating a soundtrack that is impressive, and a little scary. Sometimes it is because I have to pee and have been contemplating leaving the bed for several minutes and finally my body woke me up enough to take the sensation seriously. Sometimes it is just because. Sometimes, like the other night, it was a combination: all the above and some back pain.
For hours, I stared at our streetlight-lit ceiling and bedroom, just thinking.
Most of my thoughts were about my back and how it hasn’t been the same since last year. Now that I think about it, and now that I’ve read some things, I am pretty sure I threw out my back (which I recognize is a catch-all term, but I didn't even have that before). While the pain went away, It hasn’t been the same since. I can feel it in yoga—there are muscles and there is soreness where there once was ease (though it opens up more and more after each yoga class I go to). Last year, I asked for chiropractor suggestions and got a lot. By the time I got to looking them up, I was New York bound. So, the other night, I was wondering if the back pain I was feeling was related to that. I was wondering if it is the normal back pain, the pain that has been with me for years. I was wondering if it was because I had been going to yoga more (honestly, I am surprised my entire body isn't trying to wave a white flag in surrender after the amount of yoga I've been doing).
I began thinking about pain and how I am worse at handling the dull pain that my body sometimes hangs on too than the sharp, sudden pains. The sharp pains are not fun--that is not what I mean. They are just…sharp. They are urgent. Spiky. I can’t ignore them so I don’t try. They also, usually, go away eventually. I may have to breakdown and take something. Take a nap. Take some tylenol. Take some time in a dark space. But they go away...or, rather, I have faith that they will.
The dull ones linger. The dull headache. The dull backache. The dull muscle ache in my hip. My back still aches. Even now as I am writing this. But it isn’t enough to stop me. It isn’t enough for medicine (sometimes). I ask for the occasional back rub from Paul, but other than that I am on my own. The dull pain sometimes gets so, well, dull and consistent. It. just. never. stops. or. changes. I shift and I move and I stretch, but nothing gives. It is there and it can be there for a while. For the duration. I feel like I am going crazy as I feel the dullness grow louder and louder, like pounding in my ears.
The dull pain reminds me of emotions and feelings and the pains we collect as we grow and connect and disconnect with ourselves and with others. I can usually deal with the sharp pains well—the immediate issues. The fight, as it happens. The breakup, as it happens. The frustration, as it happens. But it is the next morning, later that night, a year later, when the pain has lost its sharp luster, and begins to dull, that I am suddenly lost. I feel it, throbbing, in my body and in my mind and there is no clear end in sight. The dull pain will have to be worked through. It will have to be massaged. And I’m never been the most patient or the best patient.
I woke up in the middle of the night and thought about the dull pain in my back and how I should have gone to the chiropractor and how much I wanted to wake Paul up and ask for that back massage.
And then my mind left that and ventured into other dull pains that, sometimes, wake me up. Worries. Concerns. The pain, the fear, that there is something you could do to make everything okay and yet you don’t know what it is. The pain, the fear, that there is a medicine that you are refusing to take. Am I good enough. Am I doing the right things. Am I happy. Am I a good person. Am I Am I Am I. The pain, the concerns, the fears — they are selfish. I. I. I. (I find comfort at yoga, a place that reminds me that I is really we).
And then I changed positions. Twisted my body in a familiar way. A stretch as much as a release.
And I breathed in and out. In and out.
Until, finally, my brain let the dullness fall into the background and let sleep emerge.
(and yes, yes, I’ll go and get my back checked out now.)