A serious injury and all the physical and psychological pains of recovery from injury impact life deeply. Pursuits of pleasure that were formerly easy and without thought become either challenging or impossible. Life narrows, and new coping strategies to maintain overall function and personal optimism must be found. The self-pity dance leads nowhere but down.
Previous to injury, I was not only physically active, but also active in viewing film on the big screen, as well as attending performances of music, dance and theatre. Since injury 10 months ago, it has been nearly impossible for me to sit comfortably for even a brief amount of time. This has limited my cultural pursuits and my social interactions. Even dinner with friends was difficult in terms of pain limits for sitting.
So, I was very pleased and encouraged this past week to be able to view some films on the big screen! I did have to carefully choose a seat that would allow me to wiggle and move and stretch out my leg without disrupting other viewers (usually the very back seat in the “disabled” section), but I can tolerate a few hours of (wiggly) viewing now. I am so very thrilled to be able to see films again! Although this may not sound like improved “mobility”, a level of visual mobility is now, once again, available to me.
The continuing application of Alexander principles figures in here. I could not, until now, push ahead of the condition of Self I found myself in, and had to wait (inhibit) until I could find a means of using myself well to pursue desired activities. The emotional and psychological consequences have been a struggle. Depression lurks like a shark in the shadows, but knowing I have a choice in response in my intention and attention has saved me from utter dismay. Noting each small step in recovery, celebrating the renewal of life activities, marking how far I have come is how I continue to defeat self-pity and depression.
Today, I was able to walk down stairs (using both railings) like a normal person without pain or fear! This makes me incredibly happy and encouraged about continuing recovery!
I am slow and careful, but I can now accomplish this simple activity!
It has been an intolerably long journey since injury/surgery, and an excruciatingly slow recovery. As a person with previously boundless energetic reserves and resilience, I am now someone operating on the constant edge of pain exhaustion. I am at my best while teaching Alexander lessons. Otherwise, my reserves are completely spent, worn out and depleted.
Although I can walk some days without pain, I cannot count on pain-free movement, as discomfort returns without explanation. Remaining in the big picture, and also functioning well with pain, requires tremendous energy and intention. See above about resources being drained.
Recovery proceeds at a frustratingly slow pace. Applying Alexander principles of allowing time, pausing for a new response, and thinking with the whole Self has deeply assisted me in this very long and difficult recovery. Alexander thinking helps tremendously in using the Self well with physical limitations, as demonstrated by my experience. Healing can’t be rushed, however. The values that Alexander principles present are those of patience, tolerance and constructive waiting.
I attended a Gyrokinesis class today, with great happiness. Given my many limitations in movement, I was thrilled at what I could do with joyous exhilaration. I was also saddened, frustrated and depressed by all that I could not even attempt. Sitting back on my heels, kneeling with any comfort, and various other movements that impact my knee are painfully and functionally impossible. What was previously easy and accessible is currently difficult and inaccessible. There is no doubt that I am better, but not anywhere better enough for my liking.
Serious injury changes life on many levels and with myriad consequences. The person I assumed that I was cannot currently function. With Alexander principles, I can frame this as instruction, but what a hard lesson this continues to be.
The Alexander Technique does not impose a form or a set means of function, but instead proposes using the entire Self well with any condition. A balanced elastic use of the entire person involves including asymmetry in structure with best possible use.
I am experiencing a condition of self that is dramatically asymmetrical. One leg is hugely strong, and the other remains atrophied, painful and less functional. This does not mean a diminished use of my entire self, just a need for more attention to a wider view of overall balance and elastic response.
My legs cannot respond equally to weight bearing, flexion needs or movement. Although I could attempt to create an equal response, this would involve end-gaining and a management of parts rather than a whole intention of self. My best intention has to be to the overall elastic condition of self, with my physical limitations as a consideration, not a total view.
If I indeed attend to a larger view, rise to my larger thinking potential, and see the wider world, then I limp less, experience reduced pain, and find surprising means of invisible and interior support. If, instead, I pay primary attention to my knee and to the asymmetry of support, I become more fearful, I twist physically to the injured knee, pain increases, and I limp with increasing urgency.
This is not in any way to suggest that attending to the big picture is easy. The tools of intention and attention that the Alexander Technique offers are simple, but also indirect, and thus different and less conceptually available than other more direct means of recovery. Experience, rather than concept, is required. The temptation of “making” myself symmetrical is huge, but the experience of allowing an overall elastic response provides evidence of value.
If I think largely, calmly and quietly, my experience improves. If I pull down to attempting an equal leg response, my experience narrows and shortens.
No amount of Alexander thinking will heal my knee more quickly, but I do have a choice in response to pain, mobility challenges, asymmetry of use and recovery impatience.