Let Me Tell You About My Neck

Well, I did it again. I blinked. And February and March are gone, just like that. And with them went my uber-organized ideals and resolutions for being like all those bloggers and authors who can actually get their shit together long enough to create and deliver some real, solid, regular content. 

On the bright side, I have another plan to start again. After all, what is progress without a healthy dose of procrastination here and there and without some genuine lack of motivation? Also, really, I have been engaged in a million and one other things, including revamping my freelance editing side hustle, decluttering my closet, and taking a much-needed long-weekend trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law and and and and and…it’s a long list of reasons or excuses. I live in the land of paradox. I’m accomplishing things, just not accomplishing all the things. And I still feel as if I’m accomplishing nothing. 

And so what. Nobody cares, really, do they? Nobody in this world has made it their life’s mission to tally up my perceived failures and shortcomings. So, with this, I free myself from criticism, blame, imposter syndrome, and thoughts of “I am not enough” (even if for only the amount of time it takes me to write this newsletter). I free you from these weights, too.

I want to mention that when we’re healing, we can often feel even more overwhelmed than usual. Healing is not a linear journey. 

Since my memoir was published, I’ve thought a lot about my long and winding healing journey–and I have healed so much. But sometimes, when it seems the healing has been locked on pause, I forget how far I’ve come. 

For years during the writing of my memoir, my neck was inexplicably…injured? I’d seen a multitude of doctors, including chiropractors and massage therapists and acupuncturists and physical therapists. Over the years, I have tried over fifty different healing modalities and treatments for migraine and neck pain and stiffness and spent thousands and thousands of dollars trying to fix the pain in my neck. I’ve reasoned that it makes sense that someone whose biological mother tried to strangle her would have neck pain. It makes sense that someone who spent their childhood feeling small and voiceless would have neck pain. It makes sense that someone who has had a partial thyroidectomy would have neck pain…someone who flips her long hair off her shoulder…someone who works at a computer…etc. 

Once my memoir was published, my neck just got better. Suddenly, on a day that might as well have been any boring, uneventful day, my neck was simply normal, pain-free, flexible.

And you know what?  I’m not saying I believe in magic, but I’m also not saying I don’t believe in it—my life has had too many damn good upturns—so make of this what you will…

I am saying that my neck now has more good days than bad…and I cannot remember a time this wasn’t true. And I’m saying I no longer have to drive my car feeling guilty and reckless for being unable to check the lane to my left when merging on the freeway. And I no longer have debilitating discomfort or that needling, searing ache carving misery into my skull on repeat every hour of every day.

Did my neck really suddenly heal for no reason? I believe that writing my memoir threw me into a cruel act of looking back, and since my brain refused to pay attention, my body had to take over and literally force me to stop looking back. As a means of self-preservation, it was desperately trying to tell me my past was not a safe place to visit and that nothing could be gained by spending so much time wading in the depths of my childhood, where trauma spoke my name with every breath. 

Tony Robbins said, “The past is a place you can learn from, not a place you want to live.” Who am I to argue with him? I mean, he has made a life out of motivating and inspiring millions of people. Also, who is my neck to argue with him? It seems Tony Robbins and my neck have my best interests at heart. But maybe I have actually cracked the code to healing–or one of the codes; but it can’t be this simple, can it? Drop the complicated work of processing trauma and grief? No. Notice that Robbins says the past is not a place you want to live. He says nothing about living in the past for a while if you ever expect to be free of its grip. 

Writing my memoir was necessary for me in so many ways. Yes, it was incredibly difficult (I’m intentionally being vague–more on this perhaps in the future). But had I not spent all those years revisiting my childhood and chipping away at it one tragic memory at a time, I might be suffering from even more symptoms than I already do. My body might still be forcing me to look forward because my mind remained stubbornly insistent on looking back and back and back to find meaning in the madness of what I experienced.

I believe in the power of poetry, journaling, and memoir as tremendous healing modalities. 

If you are dealing with a painful past, I hope you can give yourself time to process your wounds. You will stop picking at the scabs only when they stop nagging you to pay attention. 

Please pay attention. Take care of yourself, and go easier on yourself. You are enough, little by little every day. We are made stronger by our attempts to clear away the pain and pave a new path forward into a brighter tomorrow.

I hope you can be brave a little every day.

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