Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Spasm Storm

Frustrating day at work. Primary production tool server was having problems, kind of. Not so critical that we called for a mid-day outage, but impacting enough things to annoy my most demanding client team. I spent much of the day responding to their complaints about having to use a work around and wanting to escalate, regardless of this impacting several other teams. Then the test server for our enterprise reports environment was stuck.

I noticed after having a good sized, delicious lunch of last night's leftovers (Anasazi beans, mango salsa, rice/barley/radish seed steamed, and chard & beet greens) that I was craving sweets. In between the client irritation and the tedium of defining all the database fields & tables my brain was stuck on, "cookie, cookie, cookie.... give us a cookie..."

No cookie. I was mindful of all the emotions pushing me towards sweet gratification, offered loving-kindness, got about my day the best I could, and looked forward to zazen. My reward was to leave a little earlier and join CK. I had an iced coffee and a couple of bites of a blueberry muffin and felt pretty good.

Had a great group meeting at the Dharma center. We shared a potluck, light meal and talked about practice. I even talked briefly about being wrapped up in working with how I felt about my body, how having the photography session really triggered some painful stuff. I didn't explode...

Well, at least I didn't explode until I stood up to put away dishes and gather up things for zazen.

The cramps started in my left hamstring and my right foot. I dropped back onto the floor in the center of the room trying to calm my legs down. Both legs were cramped and in spasm from hip to toe and my feet pulling tightly, curling up involuntarily. The right one along the front of the leg, the left along the back and side. Breath-stealing agony with an audience as more and more people arrived.

Each time I'd try to stand up to lengthen my legs the spasms and cramps would intensify. I eventually gave up and inched myself to a sofa, lay on the ground and put my legs up on the cushions. This began to help although the left upper leg remained in spasm. I felt myself crying.

"I hate my body." I said from the floor to a concerned Sangha member checking in on me.

Right in that moment I meant it. Even if for a second. I felt like my body was one giant, muscular panic attack and crying, lying helpless on the floor with people around me added a layer of emotional vulnerability that only made things worse.

Ultimately we went home. CK still isn't feeling great, even though she is improving slowly with the antibiotics, so it was good for her to come home. There was no way I could sit zazen, something that was pretty apparent to everyone. Hogen made a suggestion regarding levels of trace minerals, something he'd come started asking me about when he spotted me in distress, and had even gone to get his bag to see if he had anything to give me immediately. He saw us out and wished us well.

I'd really been looking forward to zazen and the Dharma talk tonight. CK helped me to the car as I cried and limped. I felt the hurt 4-year-old inside of me wailing at having been denied cookies earlier and now having her "normal" Thursday night taken away. I also felt tremendous fear at being "stuck" like this, with CK having to help me when she is so young and healthy.

I keep reminding myself that I haven't been shutdown with muscle spasms like that in a couple of years. There was a time when this was a weekly, daily thing. So I have improved. It is still scary though to have that happen. I feel pretty helpless when it does, overloaded by the barrage of information.

Most days I feel like I have some say in my pain, how I function with it. I had even commented earlier in the evening as we shared dinner how yoga had helped me be comfortable with the inside of my body. Even though my body experiences some level of constant, chronic pain, I'm able to feel comfortable inside it. The massive storm of muscle spasms rob me of even that small feeling of comfort.

Everything changes, especially our feelings of comfort.

I am trying not to hate my body. I am working on moving out of the shame I feel towards it, especially the outside of it. I am trying not to feel unbalanced by this overload of pain information tonight.

Some Dharma gates we must crawl through.

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