Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rigor Vita

That's probably the wrong declension of vita, and I'm too tired to go look it up. A thousand apologies.

But the point is there.... I've hit a spot in my life where I'm feeling rigid, literally and metaphorically. I've watched other women in the middle of a divorce go through this. There have been unspeakable, shaming boundary violations. Then, as part of healing there's a time when, truly, compromise is possible. But instead she draws a line in the sand and defends it for all she's worth. The line is not important, possibly even to her. It's the defense that's important. I WILL stand my ground. I will NOT permit boundary violations. There will be NO compromise.

Subtext: Because I'm afraid that if I give you even an inch, and you hurt me again, I will die.

That's the part I didn't know before. It's interesting.

Yes, I drew a line. I defended it. Possibly, modest defense was appropriate; rigidity was unnecessary. I'm not apologizing, exactly. He deserves all I can dish out and more. But I am saying that rigidity is uncomfortable for me. I don't care whether he likes it or not. I don't like it. I just don't know how to be both flexible and protected -or strong and open -or fierce, but not snarling.

This kind of rigidity really is rigor mortis, or rigor vita, I suppose, since I'm not dead. Life unyielding. That's not what I want. I want my life to soar, but something is weighing me down again. How can it be a person's presence in a community? Well, it can't be. It's the power I assign to that person's presence.

And wandering down the curvy pathways of my mind.... we get to yoga. Again. (I know... just hang on. There may be a point here, somewhere.) There's a "reclaiming my body" post rattling around in my brain, but it's not finished. But I do know that yoga -literally and metaphorically- knows something about strength and flexibility, and fierce concentration with an open heart. If I have lost my mental and emotional agility, I have also lost my (formerly considerable) physical flexibility. Both can come back, but it takes work.

From psychology, we know that sometimes people store unexamined (not-yet-examinable, frequently) pain in a physical body part. There's a reason that people get chronic stomach aches or neck pain or headaches or... whatever. A single individual typically gets a certain kind of stress pain, not all of the kinds. Without going overboard, the pain tells us a little something about what the unexamined issue is.

We usually think that therapy or time will heal the issue, and the body pain will ameliorate. But it can go the other way. Sometimes there's a physical release first; yoga and dance are frequently the agents here. The pain gives way, and the emotional issue...well, it doesn't go away, but it becomes available to examination.
Its power to frighten is reduced.

Good lord, is anyone still with me????

Here's the point. (and the crowd breathes a sigh of relief) I can confront these issues from both sides. I think. I muse/brood/reflect. I write. I talk. I post here. I have a long-suffering life coach. I'm doing what can be done on that side of the equation for my own healing and thriving. Yet, for so many reasons, I could try to reclaim some flexibility from the physical side. Even if the emotional breakthrough isn't sudden and momentous (and for most people it isn't), there's power in following my goals and dreams in the physical arena. That power could inform all the other dream-building that I'm doing.

And, my back might hurt a little less ;)

3 comments:

Michael said...

"Vitae," just like in "curriculum."

Do you have a DVD of The Philadelphia Story, by chance? There's a scene in it that might be apposite. Two, actually. The first between C.K. Dexter Haven and Tracy Lord, at the poolhouse if I'm remembering correctly. The second between Tracy and her parents on the terrace, just before Uncle Willy's party.

Andrea Rusin said...

I don't have it, but I've seen the movie. I'll have to move it to the top of the netflix queue to remember the scenes you mention.

Michael said...

Or I could loan you my copy :-)