from 6/6/22 newsletter
As many of you know, I struggle with chronic back/neck pain on a daily basis. I have flare-ups almost every week and it greatly impacts my ability to work, sleep, or even just rest (sick of hearing about rest, yet?). A lot of my time is spent in stretches or lying with pillows and props to help ease and release any number of muscle spasms on a near-daily basis. Chronic pain, in my experience, is incredibly humbling.
I say humbling, but any number of words might feel more appropriate on the day-to-day: frustrating, restricting, hopeless.
When I broke my ankle in 2020, I spent somewhere around 4 months in my bed, my surgeon’s office, and physical therapy. The time spent in bed was that of deep isolation and restlessness that eventually settled into deep self-care. With my back and neck muscle spasms increasing in frequency over 2021 and through this year, it is hard not to find the similarities between one period of time spent in bed and another.
It’s not all bad though. I also suffer from something called “working-too-much” and pain in the body is a really clear signal that it is not just time to slow down, but time to replenish. (sidenote: is anyone watching Exandria Unlimited: Calamity? Nerd out with me please)
Trisha Hershey (I feel like I bring her up every week), Nap Bishop over at The Nap Ministry, talks about how rest can be a portal to another dimension. A way of imagining a reality beyond the violence of white supremacist patriarchy/capitalism and the way it ravages our physical and mental health. Now, “portals” and “dimensions” may feel a bit out of touch to my friends who pride themselves on being rational or logical, but understand this - imagination and rest can feel like another plane of existence. It is a place of creativity and opens to door to a re-envisioning of what is possible.
When I am in my worst pain, I find a portal through rest. I imagine what can change in this moment, my day, my life, this world. Perhaps my pain comes from hours spent at a computer and hunched over notebooks, “grinding” to the point of exhaustion so I can afford to live. How, then, is my pain separate from the demands of systems of oppression like capitalism as it is currently practiced?
Perhaps my pain is triggered by stress… again, how can this be separate from the demands of systems of oppression?
When I rest, I imagine liberation and it simply brings me back, again, to rest. Perhaps a single, good nap will not save us from ourselves, but as a regular practice, it certainly provides new perspective. Forces us to think outside of the systems that have no room for us.
When you think of the constant bombardment of news of pain and suffering over the last few years, the inability to see from various perspectives and ideas is one of a few clear culprits.
What might we change if we simply took a moment to rest and imagine a reality that holds space for each of us? What might we find?
For me, this week, it is a simple change in how I work and the practice of offering myself forgiveness for things that slip through the cracks. We cannot be everything for everyone all of the time. However, we are enough. Even when we cannot fully show up on any given day. Giving my body a break feels more important than being a vision of urgency and perfectly met deadlines, especially when work requires more hours than I have in a week.
I hope you find a way to be useless to capitalism this week. Find a portal. Explore it.
xoxo (Gossip Girl),