I stood up this morning. Most people stand up in the morning upon departing the bed, and the sliver irritating my brain is that I expect that.
I stood up by means of grabbing the half open bathroom window and the sink, taking a deep breath, and pushing with my sore arms and shoulders. It’s day 6 with the persistently stabbing pain in my tailbone along with a more dull, pulling ache in my back and right leg. Last night I added a pulled groin to the list getting in and out of my car. I had little choice but to suffer the 15 minutes holding my butt gingerly off the seat to go pick up my son. His mom and I have that kind of relationship where I wouldn’t dare not be there, nor dare ask for any accommodation. Ugh, life is never short of challenges.
Now, a lot of older folks have suffered or do suffer sciatica. My neighbor had both hips replaced, so I know I shouldn’t whine about it. Still, most sufferers have a clear connection, be it too much golf, driving for a living, lifted 3 sheets of plywood by themselves, whatever. I haven’t been able to place the cause of mine. I slept on the floor the first night, and crawling into my bed the second night made me suspect it as the main offender. That, and maybe my shoes. Anyway, I went so far as to start a gofundme because I’m in real pain, my partner is in pain, and we can’t support our family starting every day tired.
Well, those that know me well pointed to another possible cause that I suppose I denied when presented. Maybe I literally stressed myself out. I just don’t see it in myself when it’s physical, I rely on mental cues to warn me of unhealthy stress limits. On the lighter end, it’s simply anxiety over the important tasks that I drop. Curable, often, by just committing another block of time to catch it up. When stress builds up enough, I might catch myself with a spray bottle and a rag rubbing some slightly marred surface relentlessly, as if a genie is going to pop out of it and take away all my problems. Again, though, at some point I tire myself out enough to sit down and think things through.
I have a plan. I track metrics and check them against my plans so I can make better plans. I eat healthy, I work a bit on my feet, and I do some work sitting down. I spend time outside, chase kids, go for walks, and all that. So seriously, could I really have hurt my back just by being stressed?
Life is challenging right now, no doubt. I feel like I’ve lived through worse. I survived Iraq and a divorce. I severed family ties to break myself away from the substance abuse and bigotry that festers and infects like blight on tomatoes. All that time, and I’ve never suffered physical manifestations like this.
I don’t get stress headaches, like most people seem to. My shoulders get sore and achey, but as long as I’m not lifting a ton of heavy things it’s not a concern. Mostly, and more frequently than necessary, I just overload my plate then get frustrated at what doesn’t go right. Council with peers and supervisors often results in the advice, “You are only human.”
My partner and I have two wild 6 year olds that act like the siblings neither of them have. We live in a two bedroom house and every morning we all fight over the only bathroom. We can barely afford rent though it’s about the cheapest we could possibly find. We have borrowed from generous friends and family to avoid eviction, while some of our family members look down on us for walking away from the corporate world and instead shower the already well-off with their financial blessings. Groceries for growing bodies, electricity for leaking heat out the single pane windows, car payment for the only reliable vehicle we have, chickens to feed, and all those student loans.
How much work can we do? Put the question out of mind and ask rather, how much work must be done? The Little Red Hen might have sewn all the seeds, reaped all the wheat, and ground all the flour to bake her bread, but the truth is: we are only human. While I write in first person, I speak for many. This is the struggle of a generation. I’m not the only one out there that feels like too much of their life is in the hands of corrupt relationship abusers. I am not the only one turning their back on the promising embrace of ‘family’ and facing life as an independent.
For all of those fighting this fight and taking the blows to the chin, we must all learn to redefine family. There is too much work to do alone, and each one of us is only human.