Yesterday I lay on the table at physical therapy, where the therapist palpated my trapezius muscles. The traps stretch across the back and shoulders, and it's where many of us hold our tension and pain. Mine have been aching and in knots, worsened by a recent car accident. So I was there to get "dry needled," which is every bit as excruciating as it sounds.
In dry needling, the therapist inserts small needles (like acupuncture) deep into the muscles to hit trigger points. The goal is for the needles to stimulate the trigger points, taught bands of muscle, prompting a release. It hurts as much as you would imagine it hurts, but it is effective in releasing stubborn muscles that refuse to budge after things like massage and strengthening and stretching.
As I lay on the table, I talked with the therapist, asking her if I had told her my news. It hurt. It all hurt. She pressed the needles into the tight bands of tissue.
"I'm dying," I told her, as I felt my muscles sliced through. "The pain."
I did not, in fact, die. I went on to do the rest of my physical therapy, pulling on rubber bands, getting stronger.
If you do not get all the way to the source of the pain, you can't release it. How's that for a metaphor?
This is where I am. A week and a half into my new gig, which is watching as my beautiful life unfolds, I realize the deepness of these knots in my muscles. I'd been running for so long, working to make everyone else happy for so long, I didn't always feel this pain. Also, I numbed it out for many years. So it resurfaces, saying, "Listen to me."
After spending this past weekend in Atlanta, I drove back to Birmingham on Mother's Day. The sky was the clearest blue and, though I'd had a great time, I cried most of the way back. The tears were not about my former job. It was about the pain that lived right underneath the surface.
When I got home, I slept and slept and called my sponsor and she said that God opens these wounds in our heart and cleans them out. Kind of like the trigger points in my muscles, I thought later.
My wounds have always been around performance, and external validation, and the safe not-so- safe story I've always told myself: that I was never enough. These are all lies -- wildly untrue actually -- but they are the stories I and countess women tell ourselves. Such an old story, so exhausting.
I bare them now in the hopes of encouraging other women. One of the greatest gifts of the past few months has been to begin to work with women who are confronting the wounds buried in their heart muscles. Out of self, into service -- it's part of the deep healing.
More to surrender, more to release. Every day I'm thankful to be guided to the source of the pain, and of the healing.