This is how it happened. I had spent months working as a full-time writer with intense, nagging pain all over my right arm and upper back. I ignored it mostly, knowing the discomfort was just a hazard of my trade, and probably would be with me for life. I had woken up several times without being able to move my neck, but, with ice and a hot shower, I always pulled through. I did my job, I turned in my articles on time, and I even put myself through strenuous workouts, pain or not. All of this I could endure, but what finally broke me was the pain of my divorce. Just like my shoulder and back pain, my divorce had been a chronic strain on my nerves. It wore me down, making me feel weaker and weaker as time went by. I woke up everyday and went through the motions of life and did what was expected of me, but continual pain is hard to deal with day after day. Divorce hurts. It hurts in the plainest, most obvious emotional way, but it manifests itself physically as well. Soon, my entire upper body was stiff, drained, and exhausted. I needed a vacation.
Realizing You Can't Be Strong All The Time
I always prided myself on being the strong person in my family. I'm not the type of person to call in sick to work, and I despise weakness. But all of us deserve a rest and recovery period from time to time, and sometimes life gives us what we need exactly when we need it. The week my divorce papers were delivered couldn't have come at a worse time, physically. But by whatever means the universe works to get us what we really need, the magazine I was writing for sent me to a nearby resort for a night. I made the hour's drive through the Catskill mountains, taking in the scenery from the car I borrowed from my ex...a car that used to be half mine. I hadn't expected a night's vacation, and it had been so long since I had a break from my divorce-ridden life, I didn't know how badly I needed the escape, even if only for a night.
I checked into my room and reported to the spa for a “mandatory” massage treatment. I warned the masseuse that I hadn't been touched for a very long time, in case my body was so sensitive I might jump right off the massage table. She nodded in understanding, and set to work. Within minutes she found a spot on my right shoulder that was in pretty bad shape. Pressing down on it firmly, she said “I want you to take a deep breath.” I obeyed. I breathed in deeply, and on the exhale I burst into tears.
My crying came after weeks of not allowing myself to cry. I wanted to be strong, and prove to myself and to everyone else that I would survive just fine on my own. If I found emotion moving to the surface I held it as a lump in my throat and reminded myself, “no crying.” But even if I was getting by, it was a lie to say I was getting by well. I wasn't well at all. Sometimes we don't realize the weight we're carrying around, often quite literally, on our shoulders. After finally being encouraged to take a deep breath and let it out, even if the exhale came as a gush of tears, I felt the weight begin to lift a little. I really needed that night away, and the massage, and the tears, and the acceptance by strangers who understood I was there seeking solace.
Learn To Let Yourself Go
I know it isn't practical for everyone to pick up and check themselves into a resort for a night. But we all need a means of putting down our burdens from time to time, and giving our shoulders, and our minds, a much needed rest. We all need a safe place to cry, and be comforted. It is important during and after your divorce to find a place where you can relax, let the tears flow, and just let yourself go for a while. You don't have to be strong all the time, or fight back at the emotions that keep coming. You just feel what you feel, and when you need a rest, you should take one. It doesn't have to be elaborate, or for a long period of time. You can treat yourself to a massage in a resort hotel, spend the night at a friend's house, or go on a solo camping trip in the woods. Whatever you do, just breathe in, and then let it all out.
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