I'm sitting here against a hot heating pad with a hot laptop on my lap feeling pretty un-hot right now. I'm having the post-show blues that I always get after a particularly high-flying performing experience but worse. Because at the tail end of it all, post-closing show, when I was leaving the very final, after-after-party, I threw out my back walking to the car. I've been laid up for the last few days, waiting for the spasm to ease its grip.
I'm old enough to know all the things I'm feeling (emotional and physical) are temporary but I feel weepy and a little pitiful nonetheless. It reminds me of living in NYC years ago: I'd be in the throes of mid-winter, freezing my ass off and not able, try as I might, to even fathom what summer felt like. I was thoroughly convinced I would never be warm again. Then poof! Six months later I'd be sweating in the back of a sweltering cab, my bare legs sticking to the vinyl seat. I'd have the same feeling all over again but exactly reversed. Why do we forget so easily? And again and again?
I'm no stranger to post-show-blues nor back pain. I've been dealing with both since High School. I'm decent at coping with the couple-day dip emotionally but the physical stuff really wears on me and tests me in ways I never feel prepared for. Ever since I started dancing professionally years ago, I have dealt with back issues. I've been massaged, cracked, needled, rolfed, and physical-therapied. I can recall countless times I've lay on all those various tables and openly wept. Partly from fear, mostly from pain: the holding onto it and the trying to let it go. The sheer frustration that I'm back with the pain again makes me feel like an utter failure, like I'm back to square one. Back. Stuck. It reminds me of all the other places I feel stuck in my life, and feels like all the work I've done to heal and strengthen have been for naught.
So. Today, propped up against the heating pad, hopped up on generic Advil and super overwhelmed, I opened the Joeycake drafts folder on my laptop, a way-station for random ideas and little seed-lets waiting to be either nurtured or forgotten, and found a blank post I once-upon-a-time entitled "Radical Self-Acceptance". I completely forgot I'd ever jotted it down. Just a phrase that popped in my mind one day that I wanted to remember to ruminate on. I chose to take it as a note from my past self to the future (now present) me, a little reminder breadcrumb: Be nice to yourself. It sounds simple until you get to the "radical" part. How do you do it when it's hard, when you forget, or when you have to keep doing it over and over, maybe even about the same freaking thing (like throwing your back out)? Can you love yourself if you're not where you want to be? Can you love yourself if you're heavier than you think you should be? Or if you're single and you don't wanna be? Or if your kids are driving you crazy? Or if you can't get pregnant? Or if your career has stalled? Or if you're sick? Or if you're sad? Because, shit: that's when self-love is needed the most. That's when it counts. That's the radical part. And if you can figure out how to give that to yourself? Think about how free you'll be. Don't we kind of owe it to ourselves to figure out how to best support us?
So I try to ease into it. I breathe. I try and talk myself down. Maybe I needed some rest. Maybe this is just where I am right now. Maybe it doesn't need to have this giant awful meaning attached to it. Maybe this too shall pass. Maybe it's un-figure-out-able and it's okay to let it be. And from that place I catch a glimmer of clarity. I can remember that I've been here before and I've lived through it and that it actually did get better.
We're all so freaking hard on ourselves. Don't get me wrong--I'm all for holding ourselves to high standards and being able to kick our own asses when it comes to that. But maybe we could just cut ourselves a little slack and treat ourselves the way we'd treat our best friends when they're going through something hard. Aren't we able to honor them in a moment of pain or hardship?
I had big plans for this week (especially since Joeycake has gotten pushed to the back burner around here lately): lots of cooking and picture-taking and getting caught up on multiple fronts. I really had zero plans for heating pads and ice packs. And zero plans for eating gross meals made up of meager cupboard scraps (since neither David nor I have had time to go grocery shopping in over a week) but it is what it is. I told my friend Shannon all I had in the fridge was a bottle of champagne, some soy butter, a lone, over-the-hill zucchini and half a bottle of teriyaki sauce and he said that sounded like a nightmare mystery box from an episode of Chopped.
I'm gonna go fire up the heating pad and begin this quest with a glass of champagne. It's either that or zucchini with a teriyaki-soy butter sauce and I love myself too much for that.