Something has to give

A reflexology practitioner told me today that I was exhausted. Her feeling was that I was giving out energy but not replenishing it in an unsustainable downward spiral. My feet told her this. I realised this for myself three weeks ago, shortly before my body went into full blown meltdown, as opposed to mild malfunction which is the level it has been operating on for some time now. Although this pattern of expending energy and not receiving it may have been around for some time, it began in earnest the day my son was born. At that moment I signed over my life to him and then to the second son in equal measure when he arrived soon after. Each day since then I have woken up in response to their needs, often in the middle of the night and then tended to them (even when I am not physically with them) throughout the day. It is unacceptable to me that I be anything other than the perfect father, available physically and emotionally whenever they call. Of course I have not been the perfect father and I have not been available to them as openly as I wished, and I have held myself accountable for that and not let myself off the hook. If my son asks to be carried, I carry him. If they both ask to be carried, I carry them both, as far as needed. If they call me out of bed I go to them and so on and so on. If I feel like this, I cannot imagine how my partner feels. She is at the coalface with them more frequently, for more of the time. Other parents may recognise this.

This is one of the primary reasons (but not the only reason) why I have ended up in the situation I am in now, with my body tired, uneven, distorted and in pain. I am in service to my children. Yet the manner in which I have chosen to serve them is unsustainable and it has put me out of action and limited my physical ability. Now I cannot carry them, cannot play with them, cannot be with them in the physical way that I wish to. I can no longer serve them as I want. I feel such sadness about this. At the same time I know that if I am to be well again, things have to change.

I spent time with an Alexander Technique teacher today. The profound simplicity of the practice has already sowed the seed of a sustainable way of inhabiting my body in the future. If I can heal the damage I have done to myself I have a way of moving forward. The realisations I had in the hour I spent with the teacher were clear and upsetting. I realised that my general day-to-day movement has shifted from being mostly conscious, thoughtful and unhurried into a reactionary, frenetic lurching. Base level sitting posture is now slumped spine, head in hands, shoulders up around my ears. My first movement of each day is to lurch out of bed half asleep in response to my sons waking up and then haul them both out of their cots with little regard for my body. Getting in the car is a rushed collapse with associated pain. Getting the boys in and out of the car is a torturous spinal ordeal. This rhythm of movement has rippled out into my wider life. I feel busy, scattered, exhausted and ungrounded. My body is reflecting this very clearly. It can't go on.

Ben Parkes3 Comments