These past few months, I feel like a teenager all over again. Now 40, my body is a’ changing and I’m having a second growth spurt. This time, I may be flexing instead of strengthening.
You see, I may not be built as well as you. My upper body has always felt like a bundle of bones shoved into too small of a cavity. The bones don’t compress so what gets excluded from this jigsaw mess is space. My back is a solid piece of hard tissue. The Tuesday night yoga teacher often counsels, “just relax between your shoulders.” I’m afraid that part can’t or never learned how to relax.
A physical therapist once diagnosed that decades of desk work had caved in my ribcage, overstretched my shoulder blades, jutted my neck backwards, and in general caused havoc to all the parts above the waist. He suggested that therapeutic exercises could take decades to reopen what had been compacted. Hippie massage guy thought I persevered through compensatory compressions. Although constant struggle of small muscles could hold on to the bones, I might be one car accident away from collapsing the house of cards.
I run, but when I run I don’t notice much my feet, ankles, knees, and legs. Those parts float freely and obliviously. Same with my hands, elbows, and arms.
But I’m always aware of my back. The shoulders fight with the back and neck for coveted space in tight cavities. The scapulae audibly slides over the blades. I can roll, crunch, and pop vertebrae to be heard across a room. I fight every minute to move parts to where I think they should go, only to have them lock out somewhere else, and then fight to get them back.
It has been a long haul. For three years, Hippie massage guy kneads this poor back mass of hard bone every Thursday afternoon at work for thirty minutes. Some weekends, another guy Jason attacks the more sensitive sinews around my neck, shoulders, and hips.
Then there’s Julie the Chiropractor. I pay her sixty bucks for maybe three minutes of work every Tuesday. I breathe out and she pounces on my ribs with a cackle. She twists my neck and opens the vertebrae. I was quite skeptical, but about seven weeks later and I finally feel what it might be like to stand at least temporarily straight.
My body is changing. My neck doesn’t crane forward as much. I can actually stand firmly on all of my two feet with open hips. My shoulders hang back more. I’m losing the hump in my upper back. Even my locked jaw is unlocking. I’ve coveted good posture for so long that it feels quite strange and yet powerful to be heading in the upright direction.
I’m pouring out money for physical and psychological therapy, and my career may soon transition spring 2014 with a sabbatical from work, but I know that if things are working, I ought not change anything – keep going on down that path.
So, I’ll continue to get smushed every Thursday afternoon by Hippie Massage Dude, poked some weekends by Jason, and crunched by Julie the Chiropractor.
I want some day to be so relaxed in my body that I no longer notice it. I want some day to stand upright so all the vertebrae stack like a tower of dinner plates. My neck opens to look forward assertively. My hips open with more confidence of my sexuality. My chest opens as I’m no longer so afraid of what my heart may do. I do feel like I’m finally growing a pair of wings. It’s pretty wonderful.