I work as a personal trainer and exercise is my life. About 8 months ago when I was running I felt a massive twinge go down my inner thigh, then my other inner thigh, then my ankles and toes were numb. I ignored and just kept running. In my mind the pain was not real. I chose to ignore the pain, push through the pain, punish the pain, and flat out deny the pain was there.
For me pain has always been a part of my life. For a long time I use to take a lot of pride in my ability to withstand so much pain. My ego thrives on punishing my body. Stand a little taller knowing that I can still do a squat even though my feet and legs are numb.
It is not just the physical pain that is always there either. It is the thoughts about the pain that seems to increase it.
This will never go away...
How can you be so dumb...
Why am I always hurt...
These thoughts give power to the pain. When my mind is really going the pain in my body seems to thrive.
Over the course of 8 months I have tried many things to heal my pain. I would visualize my legs healing as I slowly breathed, I went to massage and chiropractic. I stretched and strengthened my hips and legs the same way I would work with anyone who described to me that they have hip pain.
I saw a doctor and they said I just needed to rest. That sounds easy enough; I assure you for me it is not. I did not rest. The pain has grown and grown and grown. And yet I kept working out, lifting hard, thinking and hoping it would go away; knowing that it would not. The pain has spread to my butt and back as well. I allowed it to get to the point where I had to see a specialist in order to rule out any major damage to the joint of my hip.
In my mind physical pain represents a spiritual opportunity for growth. This is not to say that I did not have something physical wrong. I do. I have a pulled groin muscle. However, I think the pain in my leg represents something much deeper than a pulled muscle. Over the course of the last 8 months my moods have been defined by the way my body feels.
When my legs and back hurt it is never certain what side of me will show up. I have been so angry I could feel the blood in my skin boil. I have been so depressed I danced with thoughts of the easy way out. I have had times where the pain was gone for a moment, I would feel so alive, to only have it all come crashing down the next day.
Then I decided enough was enough. I decided to surrender to my pain. Surrender does not mean I am giving up. Surrender means I accept myself unconditonally right now. This is no easy task for a person who lets his body and the way it looks and feels carry so much weight.
Now for the last week I have not worked out at all. This is a great success. This. Is. Success. For. Me. I am allowing my body to rest.
And my body has given me flashes of brilliance. I have felt myself healing some. I am proud of myself for taking these steps. I have other area's I can watch over while I let myself heal. I am doing my best to eat well, finding new ways to be active; redefining what HEALTH is to me.
I do know I will heal and I do know that I will be able to lift weights again, most likely soon, facing this injury has allowed me to feel real pain, discover real growth, and uncover parts of myself I did not know were there. Now that I have faced my pain, accepted that it is part of me, I can let it go, and let my body and spirit heal. I have grown from ignoring my pain, and I am thriving in new ways by embracing my pain.
Most of all I feel I now know what real health is. Real Health means I eat healthy foods not because I have to but because I chose to. Real health means maintaining a healthy body weight because I know how being overweight can lead to a shorter life and so many other health problems. Real health means “being active” rather than always working out. I walk everyday, sometimes for several hours, this is real health. Playing with the kids, doing some yoga, taking the stairs instead, this is an active life and it feels good.
There is more to real health than eating well and being active. Real health also means honoring your mind and spirits as well. I meditate every morning to honor my spirit. I try to talk to myself in a positive manner, avoid criticizing others, and myself and write down my successes at the end of the day to keep my mind right.
This is life, one’s with up’s and down’s. It is not always easy but it is not always hard. Accepting myself in every moment opens the doors of infinite possibilities. Knowing that at times I will deny myself allows me to be human. Knowing that there is more to me than how my body looks and feels, well that for me is FREEDOM.