It went, suddenly, as I explained in an earlier post – and, for three days, was so bad that I was actually crying out loud with vicious, almost-continuous, spasms. On the first morning, it took me twenty minutes to get out of bed and I had to keep flopping back, in agony, as yet more ripples of agony wrenched at my muscles.
I can now walk and sit (though not for long) and, for the most part, the intense pain has subsided to a nasty ache and the occasional twinging reminder of hurt lower parts. But I have not driven since early last Monday – and, although I have walked slowly to friends’ houses a couple of doors away, it is nearly a week since I went into town, shopped physically or interacted with the wider world.
My question for today, however, has nothing to do with the physical symptoms (intense though they are). It is the whole area of why this has happened. I could give you lots of rational reasons: I crouched in a tense and unnatural position during my long farewell to the dying Jumble; weeks of stress from another source have created intense anxiety and all the symptoms that come with it; hauling Pippa’s cage from spot to spot every few days takes its toll.
But much of it is my body telling me to stop, to let go, to grieve properly, to quit my lifelong habits of delaying emotion and trying to prop the rest of the world up. It is my body’s way of kicking back against sadness shelved for too long, and a constant act of jolliness which hides anguish every bit as excruciating as the waves racking my back. It is my back giving way against terrible fear (of bullying, to be blunt) and my tendency to assume all the blame for situations in which it should, by rights, be shared.
This whole fortnight – of misery, pain, loss and death – has constituted an important lesson for me. I cannot defeat the gremlins of life by will power alone. I cannot do everything by myself. I need to ask others for help from time to time – and feel no shame in so-doing. But also this: Sometimes, no matter how hard we try (and I do), situations cannot be solved. A beloved dog, whose time it is to go, cannot be kept alive indefinitely, for that is massively unfair; a friendship, or relationship, which has reached its end cannot be falsely kept in the land of the living either. Fence mending will only work if both sides of the divide are committed to doing it – and this message, which I should have got loud and clear during the awful years leading up to the divorce, has been received only slowly and reluctantly by me.
I suppose I am, in many ways, an optimist – and always hope that the sun and warmth of restoration will shine through eventually. But the stark reality is that no amount of positive thinking can delay death, pain and partings. I was bending over backwards (and, yes, I can see the apposite nature of this image) to make something difficult and untenable work: Ignoring, both literally and metaphorically, the true significance of the shit on the floor, I carried on cleaning it up like an automaton whilst telling myself that it was nothing serious; telling myself that, by bending my back to the task, I could clean and cleanse and make right and keep going.
Snap! Crunch! Owwwwww! Hooped in agony, crab-stepping slowly, I was forced to stop, to let go, to cry, cry, cry, to mourn both that which should have been laid to rest a long time ago and more recent bereavements of the spirit.
So be it. Today, I rest and take it gently and listen to music and, yes, weep if I need to. Today – having unloaded the shopping I ordered on line – I relax, or try to, and heed the insistent plangent notes of a hurting back and a wounded soul.