Laying Down My Arm(s): What A Frozen Shoulder Taught Me About Ego, Defensiveness, Worthiness, And Healing
Posted Jan 06 2014 8:23am
Pain is like a life coach in your body. It’s what made me a life coach because I started paying a lot of attention to what made me hurt and what didn’t. It turned out my body was trying to steer me away from a life that was absolutely wrong for me and into a life that was absolutely wonderful. ~ Martha Beck
“If I could just get skinny, then I’d be worthy.”
“If I can’t be skinny, at least I can be strong. Because if I am strong, then I will be worthy.”
These are thoughts I’ve had pretty much my entire adult life. I wasn’t conscious of them for a long time, but they were there, like an operating system, running me.
You’d think that as I became aware of the first one, the second one would become obvious, but it didn’t.
A few months ago I wrote about my shoulder injury ( Doucement, Doucement ) and the “badass” attitude that I believe led up to it.
Since then I’ve had an MRI (which showed, among other things, a small anterior labral tear and adhesive capsulitis, aka frozen shoulder, which, if you don’t know, is really painful), additional physical therapy (seriously painful…like you-yelp-out-in-pain-and-cry-actual-tears painful), two cortisone injections (which didn’t “work”), and appointments with two different orthopedic surgeons (in the same practice), both of whom didn’t appear to be keen on surgery.
I’ve also had some major ah-has. I’ve been dealing with shoulder/upper back/neck issues for a long time. I tend to hold that part of my body in a tense, defensive, ready-for-a-fight posture. I have to constantly remind myself to lower and relax my shoulders.
I know I am not alone in this.
I also tend to be an emotionally defensive woman. I’ve seen how this has played out in my life and I’ve written about it plenty, here on my blog and in my book.
But even with awareness, the body doesn’t necessarily forget. It’s no coincidence that around the time my shoulder started to get worse, I found myself steeling for emotional battle (of course, this is a hindsight observation).
So it makes sense that there’s a reason – well beyond my desire to be a badass kettlebell queen – that my shoulder is torn up and frozen.
Combine my defensive, tense attitude and posture with my belief that being physically strong will make me a worthy person, and it’s no surprise.
So what am I doing about it?
I’ve been tapping on variations of, “Even though my shoulder is still angry and defensive, I love and accept myself.”
I’m reminding myself that worth is inherent. You and me? We’re worthy of not only existing but of expressing ourselves exactly the way we already do.
I’m noticing when my shoulders tense up.
I’m making an effort to choose a non-defensive communication style (and I have a lot more to say about this, and my fear of conflict, in a later post).
I’m having surgery today (and physical therapy starts up again tomorrow).
I’m looking forward to healing.
I’m looking forward to getting strong again, for no reason other than it will feel good.
And I’m grateful for all the things my painful, frozen shoulder has taught me: it’s time to soften, surrender, relax, and receive.
Have you ever connected a physical issue to an emotional cause?