HURTS SO GOOD

Yesterday one of my most favorite yoga teachers looked at me, saw the large raw burns on my shoulder (from a homemade spaghetti sauce explosion this weekend), and jokingly said:

you are always getting injured. . . I’m sorry to laugh, but it’s kind of funny.”

She’s right. I am.

She’s also right that it’s kind of funny, in a satirical sort of way.

I actually cannot recall a single time period in my life when I didn’t have a blister, a bruise, a scratch, callouses on my hands, a pulled muscle, a bulging disc, etc… My body is basically never ever fully healed. No really. Never.

Funny thing, neither is my ego. Or my life.

When I complete a self examination, physical injury aside, I’m also fairly regularly “injuring” myself on the inside too.

Ouch.

While to a certain extent I have my tough girl act pretty dialed in, I’m at the same time quite willing to be vulnerable. I am genuine in how I show up, articulate about my shortcomings, my feelings, my wants, and my needs. Thereby, the exposition of the internal components that collectively create my being often results in the laceration of my psyche, the wounding of my heart, the scarring of my soul.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is living authentically, and I like it.

Another yoga teacher, from the same studio, and for which I have mass quantities of starstruck fear respect said to me this summer, “Michelle, you are harder on yourself than anyone I know.”

Well, clearly she hasn’t met the rest of my family, but also, she’s right about the being hard on myself part; I am, no question.

If I’m not operating at lightspeed, if I’m not pushing myself to my edge, if I’m not jumping up and down to rise to the bar I set ever so high for myself (or at least re-evaluating its position), I’m not being me.

Testing my boundaries, is, and always has been, my thing. Even if that means I touch the fence and get zapped. Even if that means I get stuck halfway through the tunnel. Even if I get my foot (or my fingers) caught in the closing door.

But especially though, if it means I get to drive those boundaries way, way, way out and expand my life.

I love that shit.

I push my limits. I get out of my comfort zone. I play with fire, and um, I get burned. Knowingly.

Because I find gain from the pain, to be cliché. I grow, and open, from the breaking. I find strength from hurt. I learn in response to failure. And it’s fabulous.

Think about this for a minute — how often do you see an athlete without tape, ice, heat packs, or some other kind of restorative treatment happening somewhere on their bodies?

Not often. Maybe never.

Athletes don’t get stronger by lifting pebbles. They don’t get faster by sitting on the bench. They don’t become more agile and adept by watching the rest of the team play.

They become better by working. By trying. By testing. By engaging. And by intentionally placing themselves directly in the seat of discomfort over, and over, and over again.

Well, I can certainly relate to an athletic metaphor, on all accounts, and while there may be safety in staying on the sidelines, being a spectator in the sport of my life isn’t in my game plan.

I’m the star player in my life, on my field, during my time on stage. And you know what? Players get hurt, often.

So to clear things up, because several of you have asked if “I’m okay,” to which my answer is “No, I’m not okay, I’m AWESOME,” and your reply is somewhat of an eye roll (yes, I saw that, even over the phone and through e-mail. I’ve got mad skillzzz like that), let me assure you that yes, as usual, I’m injured, but I got this.

I’m FINE.

I’m, as yet another yoga teacher shared, Fucked up, Irrational, Neurotic and Emotional.

Yippee!

No really. I like it.

I’m still working too much. I still feel regularly inadequate as a mother. I still feel occasional bouts of sadness, frustration or anger about some things with which I haven’t quite gotten my shit together. I am still dealing with the realization of the lack of control I have over what goes on in the other household in which my children now have part-time residence and how that impacts them, and me. I’m still in love with a man who doesn’t want to love me back. I still haven’t fully transitioned my work and play life back to where I want it to be (but I’m SO close).

I’m still learning to CTFD. I will be for my whole life.

Perfection doesn’t exist. While I find moments of equanimity in my life, there are lots more where it’s imbalanced. For every load I remove, there will be another waiting to take its place. It’s like laundry, it’s never done.

But it’s worth it. All of it.

In between the strain lies the beauty. The miracles. The pleasure. To every negative there are at least double the positives. Good always trumps evil.

Happy wins every time.

The joy is in the learning, in the process, in the struggle. Magic is happening, all the time, in every nook and cranny, every play in the book.

I’m appreciating it. I’m tired. I’m sore. But I’m grateful and I’m growing.

I will always be injured, and I’m good with that.  

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6 thoughts on “HURTS SO GOOD

  1. Duncan says:

    I love hearing the laughter in your voice. I sit in it and with it as I read back through your posts and I love it.

    Freshly through a divorce, I’m right with you around the stretching and growth coming with pain; in fact, the growth, in my case wouldn’t have been possible without the pain. Having torn down defenses and broken habits through my own therapy, I know I couldn’t be where I am without terror and pain (and terror of the pain). As a psychotherapist myself now, I talk in terms of there being no way to extend your range of emotion without tearing through scar tissue.

    As I was reading, I paused when I got to the analogy about athletes’ injuries in their pursuit of muscular growth and improving performance. I found myself wondering about injuries that cripple.

    In this post and others, you talk about reshaping ones life in ways that require commitment and real courage. For many (and yes, that includes me), the change remains elusive. How does Michelle do it? Don’t know the whole of the answer but I imagine that it has a lot to do with a community that holds you; friends from within the many different parts of your life. Ultimately, it’s always your effort but I think lots of us forget how important the people around us are.

    Back to the athletes’ analogy. When lifting weights, we push ourselves to grow by progressively increasing the amount of weight on the bar; stretching capacity and causing micro-tears in the muscles, to increase bulk and strength. No matter how strong we are, we always have a “max”. If we put weight on the bar above that max, the bar will come down on our chests and we have yet another kind of pain; a pain that can also bring growth. If, however, we lift without a spotter, that weight can mean permanent injury, incapacity or worse. Moral? Treasure your friends. 🙂

    Thanks again for the opportunity to think out loud.

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