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Friday, December 16, 2011
Pain in the Neck: A Story with a Happy Ending
This neck pain was, forgive the pun, a pain in the neck.
It got to the point when I could barely turn my neck to do a shoulder check when riding my bike in the summer.
So I began going to my massage therapist weekly in hopes of working it out. I have periodically visited a cranio-sacral massage therapist ever since she magically banished the migraines I was getting when I was pregnant with my first child. Generally, one or two visits eliminates whatever pain I might have for months.
But after about six weeks of regular visits, it didn't seem to be making any difference. So I asked a logical question: "Why isn't this working?"
To which she responded, "You have a lot of stress in your body. You carry it in your shoulders – the weight of the world. Until you deal with that, I can only offer up mild relief." Then she went further, suggesting I ask myself a question: Is it true that it isn't getting better?
To which I admitted that, well, I could now shoulder check quite easily, though it still ached at time when I sat at my desk.
"So," she said, "it's getting better."
"If it's getting better," she ventured, "then isn't it possible that it can continue to get better."
"And what might you need to do to help it continue to get better."
And so I admitted that I could stretch more, stand up from my desk more often and – here's the key – tell a different story.
This story, rather than focusing on this pain in the neck that won't abate, is about pain that is abating, albeit slowly. It's about letting go of the stress in my life that I don't need to take on (my father's grief over my mom's death, for example). It's about being responsible for my own "stuff" and letting others deal with their own. It's about not managing other's issues (ie. reading to my husband from books I've been reading on addiction in the hopes that he'll "see" the point) and letting them find their own way.
Lo and behold, my neck pain is improving. It even disappeared a few weeks ago.
Now I feel it creeping back but rather than look at it as a setback, I'm viewing it as an early warning system.
I'm taking on more than I should (holiday shopping, planning, mailing gifts – trying to create the "perfect" holiday for my family).
I'm building resentment over my husband's refusal to go to church with me and my kids. (This is fodder for another post but he was raised Catholic and marched into church every Sunday and has a strong visceral reaction to ANY church.)
I'm trying to tell myself a different story around that. I could stick with the script that if he loved me enough, he'd overcome his resistance and go because it's important to me and the kids.
Or I could tell myself that he has such trauma around church and his parents' doctrine of guilt and shame that church triggers trauma all over again (there's also the potential that he's repressing abuse...given his sex addiction). And that he'll either overcome it or not...as he chooses. In the meantime, I have the choice to either go alone with the kids, or not. My choice.
What's yours? And can you reframe it in a way that gives you power?