I took one of my precious three-hour childcare-for-writing chunks to do something that’s definitely not work today: I got a 90-minute therapeutic massage.
I’ve been dealing with sharp pains in my shoulders for months now–especially at night, thus adding another item to the already-daunting list of reasons I can’t get enough sleep–and I also desperately need some time out of the house all by myself. So I took a friend’s recommendation and tried a local massage therapist who is, as promised by said friend, wonderful.
Before the session, she asked really thoughtful questions about what my life is like right now and how my body feels when I feel the bad feelings that are part of that. “A buzz going up my back, and like I’m going to cry and throw up,” I said. “Good!,” she said brightly, which made us both laugh.
During the session, she kept assuring me in various ways that it was okay to relax, that my body and the world won’t just fall apart if my muscles relax, that the table will hold me up. I maybe kinda have been experiencing some anxiety and tension lately? Anyway, then at some point she said, “I’ve noticed that you’re really vigilant.”
This had not occurred to me.
She had observed that whenever a small noise or other stimulus happened outside the cozy room where we were–in the studio, on the street–I snapped out of massage-land to alert attention until it stopped or I decided it was nonthreatening. Honestly, that’s so ingrained in me right now, I imagined it was universal. Human.
“You have two small children,” she said. “You’re just taking good care of them. But the noises you’re hearing out there are my colleague getting ready for a client, and you don’t need to listen for your children or make any plans or do anything right now.”
So, apparently, I am vigilant. Yes, of course: I listen 100% of the time for Simon and for Noah and for anything that could threaten us in any way. Even when I’m asleep. Even when I’m a fifteen-minute drive away from them and they’re with another trusted adult.
That’s far, far more true now that Eric’s away so much. Half of that was his, you see, and now so much more of it is mine. I sometimes feel like I’m holding the world together over here, and yeah, like maybe the table won’t hold me up and everything will fall to pieces if I let down my guard or stop putting forth effort for a moment. I sometimes feel really alone.
I am vigilant, which is useful and excellent, and which also hurts.