Spock Meets Dory
I’m sitting in my physical therapist’s office. Today is supposed to be my last session. Well, more like my last last session, since this latest series of visits came about because a couple months ago, the pain we’d managed to mitigate last year came creeping back. Slowly at first – a twinge here, a spasm there – until I finally decided it was time to come back. “Four to six weeks,” he’d said. Then I’d be back on track.
And now, six weeks later, the pain is still there. I’m not ready. I’m not done.
So I cry. I’m sitting here, putting my shoes back on after two hours of stretches, exercises, and more stretches, and I can’t see the shoelaces through my tears. And I know that everyone can see me crying, so I try to laugh while crying, in a sort of “I know, I know, it’s so silly, isn’t it?” last-ditch effort to maintain a shred of dignity. I blame my hormones. I laugh. I blame myself. I cry.
This doesn’t make any sense. I do my exercises. I rest when I hurt. I move when I don’t. And yet, I haven’t found that balance. That magical ratio of movement to rest still eludes me. So I come here. Every week. And I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel but the light keeps moving back and the tunnel is so dark and today it doesn’t make sense so much that I need to cry. So I cry.
My brain is broken. This has happened before. Joe coined the phrase, “Your brain broke” one day when we were doing an escape room game and we couldn't move forward because one of the clues, a clock, was set to the wrong time. We were stuck, and I short-circuited. Broken brains happen when things just don’t make sense. Logic gives way to the chaos that only comes with Living. The unpredictable, the annoying, the twists of fate. I was raised on Star Trek. I think like Spock. When life isn’t logical, when there’s no way to think my way out of something, my brain breaks.
My brain is broken today. I’ve done everything “right,” and yet I still hurt. Which means I haven’t actually done everything “right.” So what is wrong? “Nothing,” he says. “You have everything you need.” And yet I still hurt. This is illogical. My brain is broken. So I cry.
He comes to me. He speaks softly, which is a kindness given how boisterous he normally is. His office is a big open space. Everyone is everywhere. There wouldn’t be a place to hide my tears, even if I wanted to. He tells me to feel what I need to feel. And when I’m done feeling, it’s time to get back to work. He tells me he’s given me some new tools. He has, he’s shown me a new stretch to do. One more tool in the overflowing toolbox that still can’t fix the leak. Brain broken.
I think of Dory. I’m sitting here, 35 years old and crying while tying my shoes, and I’m thinking about a blue and yellow cartoon fish. Just keep swimming. Because what else is there to do? Despite the lack of logic, despite the fact that up until this point, I have yet to triumph, quitting now would be … illogical. The investment is too great. The future is too lengthy. The idea of a life without hope is too … dark. Quitting is not an option, because quitting doesn’t make sense. My current situation doesn’t make sense either, but it’s better than quitting.
There’s nothing left to do but … just keep swimming. Keep trying. Keep crying if need be. But to give up … that would be the ultimate brain-break. So I’m going to come here, every week, until I don't need to come here anymore. That’s the plan. That’s the logic. Do it until it’s done.
Just keep swimming so I can live long and prosper.