When Being Disciplined Just Doesn’t Cut It

What I was going to write about next were three other features of discipline. I had it all planned out beautifully. It was going to be great: the importance of being disciplined with our words, the significance of positive self-talk, the benefits of worrying less, of preserving time and energy for creativity. What I was going to tell you was that fear limits us and I should know because I spent so many years afraid. But yesterday, I did something stupid. So what I’m going to tell you instead is that, right now, all that I had planned to say feels bogus, or maybe more important than ever, but closer to bogus–which says a lot coming from me because I’m pretty good at seeing the positive in these circumstances, about embracing them and maneuvering through the pain to find what can serve me. My husband says that when I write non-fiction, they’re like mini morality plays (my fiction, not so much).

Yesterday I tried to “be normal” and paid the price for it. I shouldn’t be surprised, I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself because I know better. I’ve been doing this CRPS song and dance for sixteen months and I’ve done it my way, intervening on pain with activity, meditation, and a dramatically altered diet. But yesterday, I took a longer-than-usual ride with my husband to sit by the pool for a couple of hours with a good friend. This was our stand in beach day, this was the result of so many tears when it finally hit me that we wouldn’t be taking our yearly beach trip because the drive is just too long, the price too hefty. (That admission probably makes me sound childish, but what you need to know is that I’ve been learning my limits for over a year and there are the big, obvious ones, and then there are the small ones that sting so much worse.) So this sweet friend, she knew I was struggling with that (out of the blue really, because I knew this when summer started), so she invited us to her community pool. I was thrilled, absolutely giddy over our plans. And even though I knew I hadn’t gotten enough steps that morning (my FitBit is my thermometer, they should really pay me to advertise) and that I wouldn’t make it to yoga that afternoon, I didn’t care. Come what may, I wanted to be normal. Work is looming in the late August distance and I know I’m about to give up how “good” I’ve felt, so we went. And I loved every minute of it. And when some kid threw up in the pool, we left and sat some more, made up for lost time, the months Scott and I have been MIA, and when the pain began to brew, I casually reached into my bag for my TENS Unit “Nancy” only to find that my cats had chewed through the wires but, instead of moving, I settled for sitting, checked out from the pain as best I could and pretended. And it was all worth it. But then today, in an effort to be extra normal, despite the immobility of the day before, we made the same longer-than-is-best drive for church and, by the time we got home at noon, I’d only taken 921 steps (I need 7,000-11,000 to keep the usual background burning from spreading up my legs and into my arms).

Between CRPS and Reynaud’s, I was a bundle of bewildered nerves and pain, of freezing feet and hot hands and then the reverse. I sat in front of the TV and Googled “best TENS Unit” (it’s somewhere around $400) and “best socks for Reynaud’s” (Alpaca and $30+) and “most affordable under the desk elliptical” (Do any of you own one of these? Should I take the plunge?)–everything I’ll need to return to work. I was past the point of no return. I was tired and frustrated and resented the fact that my week of activity was no match for some stationary socializing over the course of twenty-four hours. I couldn’t muster an ounce of discipline to get up and move. Thankfully, Scott could and dragged me out for a hike, which is also telling because I love hiking and he doesn’t, and within an hour I was close to my daily step goal, the one that evens me out, and my feet regained feeling and my legs settled down, but it just wasn’t enough and right now I’m watching my fingernail beds go blue then white as my feet swell purple.

This is why movement isn’t an option, why trips to the gym aren’t luxuries, why I pay ridiculous amounts of money for a gym membership and unlimited yoga classes. This is why I’m afraid to return to work. Because on days like these, when I just can’t muster the energy or motivation, it doesn’t matter how hard I worked the days before, how many yoga classes I took or miles I walked, one slip up and it settles in, that epic burn, the lack of feeling or too much of it. So I can have the best laid plans come fall–which days I’ll go to yoga, which ones I’ll strength train, when I’ll walk and how to fit it all in. But the reality is, just like everybody else, sometimes I just don’t want to and sometimes the price isn’t even enough of a deterrent. So sure I’ve learned a lot about self-love and priorities, but sometimes I’m weak and resentful.

So I’m going to leave this here and resist the urge to end on a positive note, to be sparkly or shiny or Google some quote that fits well here at the bottom about acceptance or joy; because I think it’s equally important to tell you that I’m not walking around quoting Bible verses all the time, that this is hard and it hurts and sometimes I’m afraid.

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