Flat on my Back

My sacral-based foundation gave way again. Twisting and cracking through weeks of surfing and working, and finally letting go yesterday, during an act so simple as bending down to throw away a piece of gum. I kneeled on the cement pavers of my outdoor kitchen and waited for the spasm to fade, then slowly rolled and pushed myself to standing. Another day in bed. Another day of work cancelled. I let myself cry. Frustration, fear, and a little bit of pain.

I am apocalyptic. I predict the end of my lifestyle, a life that requires a strong back.

Sometimes when I’m surfing after sunset, alone in the dark waiting for the perfect wave to take me in, I imagine what I would do if a shark took my hand. Not directly after, because I imagine at first adrenaline would take over. But in the years after? How would I restructure my life? How would I write? How would I work?

Now I imagine what I would do if I couldn’t surf, couldn’t build, couldn’t massage anymore. I could do a lot, I’m sure, but would I be so happy? 

That is the real fear. Living a life of compromise. These last years have been the best for me, doing everything I love, without inhibition. But maybe not the best for my body. 

I look at my to-do list. Fix the car, fix the house, everything physical, hingeing on a strong body. I dip my toes in despair, imagining all my goals cut short. I am buying a house. I need to be working. 

I know I will heal. I have healed before. But something about this gets the attention I’ve been refusing a while now. That some things need to be re-organized. I need to be gentler on myself. I need to find a way to stay strong and healthy. I need to look closer. It is time, and unavoidable. 

I text a friend, was she really renting a building with another masseuse? Was there still office space available? I call my chiropractor. Should I get an MRI?

I make a new to-do list. With things like; do taxes, get health insurance, work on your novel. Things I’ve been neglecting for tasks like; make more money, surf more waves. 

It’s not that I’m money-hungry, per se. But I get hypnotized by the ledger. The simplicity neatly timed slots, crossed off hour by hour, day by day, week by week. And the guarantee of money in, the satisfying ring in my register. I follow the books far, far ahead. At this pace, how much will I have saved by the spring? By the summer? I plan a life on this. God, I love plans. I am addicted to the tidy predictability. As long as it all clicks along. Just. Like. This.

But life isn’t tidy.

I’m not here, flat on my back, because of some cruel fluke of mechanics in an otherwise flawless machine. There were always stray pieces that didn’t fit in that tight-packed schedule. Like the fact that I fluctuate. That I don’t always want to wake up, stretch, work, drink a green smoothie, go home, stretch, and go to sleep. 

Some days I want to stay out late, face to face with a new handsome man, building intrigue over the hum of live music and a plate of sweet potato fries. Some weeks I want to take off for five days, go to Vieques, take that invitation to stay with that hot British surfer. Some days I want to paddle out and pound my body in back-breaking waves for hours, because I haven’t been in the ocean all week, and I want it to rattle my bones.

These are the indulgences my immaculate plan does not allow. This is the gravel in the glossy gears. These are the cracks that crumble a castle built too tall.

But it’s not even perfection I want. I want play. I want spontaneity. I want to disappear on a trip and lose myself and come home to everything changed and fresh and new. That is who I was for so long. This schedule thing, this money-saving, future-planning, foundation-building thing is new to me. I just don’t quite know how to do both yet. 

Because I want stability too. I want a home to come back to, once I’m all flown out. And stability takes work I think. Means being an adult, I guess. And that means boundaries, right? Rules and schedules and ledgers? 

I’m either structured or floating. On or off. I’m not sure how to drift from one to the other. I’m not sure how to find purpose in pleasure, unless pleasure is the sole purpose.

So I’ve been rushing to make a nest, because I’m so ready to fly. I’ve been working with my back, so I can get back to my mind. I’ve been holing up and finding a home, so I can finally invite a family. I feel the toll, but I don’t stop. I think I need to get there, before I can relax into here.

It’s a race. I’ve been racing my body. Fear drives me. Fear that I will not have a nest by time I need to crash-land. By time this body can no longer build. I fear my own collapse. 

And I do it alone. Because alone seems easier, in a way. And because I’ve never done it the other way, together. I have no experience to build trust on.

But I could, if I left some space for that. If I was more realistic with that paper calendar. If I filled some slots with others, left some space for community now, not later. Connection is the ultimate goal, I just wanted to build my fortress first…to protect myself if community failed.

My method is what’s failing. The same push to take me to the end has taken me out of the race. My body won. She is asking me to reconsider my pace, my gait. To look at the big WHY of it all. Again, of course. I have seen the WHY and slowed down many times before. I have been injured before. But it doesn’t stop me from creeping up the pace, from kicking my own ass. 

These breaks are intended to restructure, I believe. Or, I have to believe. As everything must have a purpose. They force me to face what was missing in my madness. They force me to see that a perfect lifestyle is not perfect without balance.

So here I lay, flat on my back, heating pad and arnica gel and CBD and magnesium, plotting a change of course. A shared office perhaps? No more driving around. A vacation maybe. A re-assessment of my finances. I can’t keep crashing into walls. I need to heed the speed bumps.

2 thoughts on “Flat on my Back

  1. shapingstillness says:

    Loved reading this Chelle … thank you for
    your words reflecting upon
    the stillness requested.
    for Movement
    in whatever direction,
    at whatever speed
    by myself,
    with others.
    Once again Landing in the
    place where choice lives.

    love, A

    (ps At times I believe a gift of the pandemic has been a request to slow down, even while time itself seems to be going faster and faster!!!)


    • knowinghome says:

      Always the tug is to lay still and go inward! There’s so much re-structuring to do in there…I’m so good at running away from feeling my own subtleties, even as my profession it to find them in others. I even tried to run from this issue by sleeping it away. Confusion can be debilitating. Fight, flight, or freeze, right?

      I feel like I am constantly sharing stories of breakdowns! But I guess I still haven’t learned the lesson all the way. I’m excited for this one, I’ve been avoiding rooting out the cause of this problem for decades, so now I’m motivated, as you can imagine.

      Love you.


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