About 10 days ago my lower back began to ache, then the ache turned into sharp pains and overall agony. Now hurts to the point that getting out of bed is a challenge and getting showered and dressed is a feat in itself, nevermind actually ‘doing’ anything. I’ve done everything people normally recommend: rest, massage, heating pad, visited my doctor and I am also now seeing an osteopath. But I still have pain and every time I go to get up, sit down, or basically move at all, I am hurting. I thought I was pretty good at dealing with pain; I can get through headaches that last for days and still get my laundry done and make dinner. I used to have stomach aches and cramps almost every morning but I still get to work on time. But this pain is different. No matter how hard I try to distract myself from it, I seem to have no control over my reflexes and my reflexes apparently react very strongly to shooting pain. The only thing I can really do is rest.
But isn’t rest is supposed to come after doing something? I earn my rest for accomplishing things. When I worked 9-5, I earned my lazy evenings and weekends, it was never an issue. When I could no longer work, I found myself focusing on laundry, dishes, groceries or baking. Once I did something on my list, I could rest without guilt. I rationalized this so that I could maintain my sense of order. I now see that I have this ingrained, irrational belief that people need to do ‘their part’ to earn they place (impossible for me to define for others, but it is very clear to me when I don’t do mine). I don’t know if it is nurture or nature, but regardless it is very real in my mind. This started to be clear to me when I had to give up my career, I felt immense shame from no longer contributing to my community or feeling productive as I had done for years. I came up with a new system of doing small tasks throughout the day so I could feel productive, albeit in a different way. I eventually accepted this as my new norm. But this backache has taken it to a whole new level.
I think this time it wouldn’t be such a problem if I knew it was only going to last a few days or even weeks. I could just let things go and know I’ll get back on my feet quickly. But as it gets close to 2 weeks, things are starting to pile up, literally. Even though everyone is my house contributes to the maintenance of it, I take on my share of chores. This has worked out as it fulfills my need to feel productive. But now that I can’t even do those things, I realize how attached I still am to the belief that I need to ‘do my part’ to earn my downtime.
This belief is so powerful that I find myself sliding down a slippery slope of negative self-talk. “What good am I if I can’t ‘do’ anything?” “I will become a burden if this continues?” And then the dreaded “what will people think?” mantra starts repeating in my mind.
I feel like I need a quick ‘productivity’ fix to stop these pointless thoughts from whirling around and making me feel worse than I already do.
Even as I write this I secretly hope (or not so secretly) that I will get a sense of accomplishment by writing. However, I also feel my eyelids are getting heavy and that I could likely nap if I allowed myself to close my eyes. But how can I rest when I haven’t done anything today? So do I try to push through in the hope that I come up with some inspiring conclusion of how I will get over this slump? Well, I don’t. So perhaps I should just nap and hope my back feels better tomorrow.