Friends, hello! Mary here. This week's blog post is going to be a little different.
For starters, I am not sharing the companion playlist from last week's SpotiFriday LIVE. I promise I'll do it next week. This week Dann and I are playing our own solo originals from our respective homes this Friday 6 pm ET instead of covers. It's good for us to remember that we write songs, too. ;)
It's also good to remember that I don't have to be constantly grinding, learning new things, creating new content, being consistent and upbeat and energetic. Because friends, I am tired. I mean, burnt out. And I want to share a little of some recent experiences I've had with you all, in the hopes that maybe it's validating for you, but also just because sometimes we need to scream into the void, ya know?
This is a photo I took of myself a few weeks back while laying on the ground with a neck injury. (My neck is all healed now!) For about a year, I have been working on a pushup challenge, with an end goal of being able to do 100 in a day, and I'm getting pretty close. It's a very new and foreign experience for me to set a physical challenge for myself and be able to stick to it. But I like feeling strong, and throughout this pandemic, it has been something within my locus of control while everything else has felt like chaos.
But one night, I pushed myself. It was very late. I didn't stretch. I was already wiped, but I was bound and determined because damnit, I wasn't going to let another thing slip through my fingers this year.
And when I only had five left to go, something went twang on the back of my head, and I had an instant headache. Did I stop? Of course not, right? Only five left!
I had a headache for a week. Nothing helped. I went to the doctor, who quickly diagnosed which muscle I had injured, gave me some muscle relaxers and a strong recommendation that I go get a deep tissue massage.
So while lying around unable to function much past existence, I found myself thinking of the ways in which this experience was a microcosm of the things I am learning in 2020. Here are some thoughts that came up, all of which intersect pretty heavily with one another, so bear with me.
Healthcare is a privilege when it should be a right. I am so lucky to have great health insurance. I got to go to my primary care doctor, fifteen minutes from my house, and receive quality healthcare. It was not a financial or temporal hardship for me to do so. Not everyone in this country can say that.
I am so privileged to be able to afford a massage. Which, again, kind of goes back to the point above, because my doctor recommended it and it turned out to be the most important step in my injury recovery and it wasn't covered by my insurance. But if I hadn't gone I might still be in constant pain almost a month later. How would I have supported my kids through virtual school? How would I have continued working?
Massages feel so frivolous right now. Again, it was necessary medical care. But I haven't gone into any building I didn't have to since March. I can't even go to the grocery store without having a minor (or sometimes major) panic attack. I haven't gotten a hair cut, because it's felt like it puts everyone at unnecessary risk -- and now I'm just going to float on in to freaking Massage Envy?? It felt completely disjointed and even embarrassing.
I feel an excessive amount of guilt around taking care of myself. I grew up, as so many of us did, with some distorted messaging around self-care. Even on the weekend where I took this photo, I still did a couple loads of dishes and made a point of being present and helpful for my kids' bedtime routines. But I definitely shouldn't have done any of that. On the flip side, I skipped the opportunity to safely see family I hadn't seen in months in order to rest and recover and be able to facilitate the executive function nightmare that is virtual kindergarten -- and I felt HORRIBLE about it. I had an internal dialogue running of how I was failing my kids and disappointing everyone. Couldn't I have just sat there and sucked it up? It didn't matter that it was what my body needed. It was such a struggle to be kind to her.
I rarely feel safe these days. I have spent a lot of this year doing deep trauma work in therapy, because being trapped in one place unable to access my needs is an old and very triggering story for me. It's such important work, but in releasing decades of trauma from my body, I am more keenly aware of how much of the time I am operating from that painful headspace and how quickly I went all the way into there after the world started shutting down. But at the same time, going out feels like such a dangerous proposition. When do we need masks? How and when can we touch things, or maybe even people? How much distance? And even more, how is my going out endangering or harming someone else? Who are the vulnerable populations I need to protect with my actions? Whose death can I prevent? Can I prevent any deaths at all? Will it harm my husband or kids emotionally if I leave the house to safely sit outdoors with a friend? What if meeting my needs hurts them? (See the bullet point above.) And I carried all of this into both the doctor's office and, of course, freaking Massage Envy.
Why was I so eager to push myself in the first place? Was it just about maintaining a sense of control over something? Could it be related to problematic body image notions, like "no pain, no gain"? Or even larger ideas that tend to drive our society around being the best or the most or #1 at all the things? Why are we asking everyone to strive and push and be the best in a year that is inherently traumatic? This isn't 2019; it isn't about a positive attitude or willpower. And plot twist: it wasn't about that in 2019, either, or ever, but it looks even more tone-deaf and absurd for us to try and put that on one another (or ourselves) right now.
So no, you didn't see this photo for a few weeks ... because I didn't have the energy to post it. And no, I didn't make a Spotify playlist this week ... because nobody will come to harm having to wait a week for that. For that matter, I can back away from housework. I can wait to reply. I can invest my energy only into the activities and people that deserve it. There is sickness and death and systemic injustice and virtual school and trauma and physical pain and overwhelming anxiety and crushing depression swirling all around me. Just because I can be high-functioning doesn't mean I have to be. It won't work anyway if I crash and burn.
I don't owe some hyper-perfected version of myself to the world.
And neither do you, love.
So rest. Heal. Love yourself. And vote for a society that cares for its marginalized communities so we all get that same opportunity for rest, healing, and self-love. (Get registered to vote if you haven't already!)