Balancing Act

Since my “One Word” Intention of 2021 is “Balance”, I seem to have lost more of mine than found it so far. I wanted to try roller skating for exercise and fun (and to get myself OUT OF THIS HOUSE because OMG pandemic blues), so I bought a good pair of beginner skates and a good set of protective gear and went out to the newly paved parking lot across the street to try them out. I haven’t skated in years; the last time I rolled on anything was…um…hmm…I don’t remember. I used to have inline skates and may have used them back in 2013. Anyway, it’s been a while. But I do know how to skate, I’m just sorely out of practice, sorely out of shape and apparently, horrifically off balance.

I was doing all right in the parking lot, wobbling a little and fell a couple of times – but made sure I fell forward onto my well-padded knees. I’d tried the skates on in the back alley when they first came in and tested those pads, so I knew they worked really well (my alley isn’t as smooth as this great new parking lot) and I’d made the necessary adjustments as per the skating videos I’d watched to the wheels and such. All was going well, except…me. I’d not really prepared ME. I’m nearly 52 years old, very out of shape, with fibromyalgia, arthritis, anxiety and depression and while I practice yoga, I don’t do it often enough to say I’m strong and flexible and can balance well on one foot or the other. I’m in a rut, have been even before the pandemic but COVID made it worse. So when I got tired after an hour in the parking lot, I decided to pack it in and not overdo it. I tried to do the smart thing. It just wasn’t smart enough. I didn’t take the skates off to go back across the street to my house. No — I went DOWN the small driveway into the street, thinking “I got this”. No, dumbass, you don’t got anything. What I got was spilled across the asphalt in a BAD FALL, flat on my front. I did everything wrong, throwing my arms out wide and ended up wrenching my left shoulder so badly – the one I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on in 2011. I’ve lost most of the range of motion I had and hopefully, haven’t torn anything too badly. I’ve returned from my PCP’s office with a steroid shot and NSAID cream and returning in a few weeks to see how I’m doing before any potential follow ups with an orthopedist and…who knows.


Then there’s the odd balancing act a woman of my age has to learn to do with wanting to be helpful and actually doing harm to others. I keep forgetting that YES, I am NOT a millennial nor Gen Z; I am Generation X — I am MUCH older than many of the people I come into contact with lately, especially as an ally. It’s ME that needs to change if I want to be an ally. My experiences may have value but they are rooted in a past where I failed to create a world for these young people that’s the safe one I promised them. These children and young people are living in a world and fighting against the very policies that my generation promised we’d topple, and failed. Worse, some of my generation are THEIR parents doing the very harm, enacting the very policies that these kids are fighting to take down. So my language – the use of words that I think are going to comfort, or express concern or perhaps show that I have some sort of wisdom of age and experience to pass down do not actually help — it is often the language of the oppressor. I am a white middle aged woman. I AM the oppressor, no matter how much I don’t want to believe it. I may not have oppressed anyone *personally* but it’s been my kind that has done it. And I speak THAT language.

I’ve done incredible harm, to myself and to another (or others, plural), lately — being off balance. I really need to work on this.

My therapist is gonna tell me it’s a matter of being mindful. He’s right. Duh. “Stuck point diary, here I come.”

What is Balance? 

Is is being able to stand upright and not 
Fall Down?
Or stand on one foot?
Is it being exactly half of two parts:
Some of this and some of that
Or perhaps sixty-forty.
What is being in balance or
Finding your balance
When the whole world seems cockeyed
And careening, like a car on 
Two wheels instead of four.
And you're a passenger in the
Backseat being thrown from side to side.
How does one find their balance
In a world so off it's own center?
So determined to push you over
As soon as you find yourself a 
Good, rooted stance?
Or a good mixture?
Too much one way and you're off, again.
Poke.
Try again.
Inhale, exhale. One foot, another. 
One step, another. 
Stand, mix. Breathe.
Balance.
Practice Makes Perfect. 

Finding my Voice in the Fog

When you have fibro, you lose your mind. Fibro fog takes EVERYTHING from you. I used to be a wordsmith. A master communicator. I could express myself in so many ways — spoken, written, in dance, in song.

Now I struggle to even say the simplest of things. To get across even the simplest of ideas. I stumble over my words and sound stupid or say the totally wrong thing– it comes out so very wrong because I couldn’t find the right words in the jumbled up mess in my head … I KNOW what I want to get across but the words…they’re…somewhere….hiding from me. No, not that one, not that one, that one will sort of work? OK, I’ll have to use it because I can’t think of the right one.

I once couldn’t remember the word for “tire”. I had to describe it.

And dammit if it’s not frustrating as hell. I get frustrated because I end up having to explain myself over and over, trying to explain what I mean when all I had to say was ONE WORD or IDEA in the first place — but it’s right there…out of reach.

And my frustration sometimes gets taken out on others too. How many people have I lashed out at because I’m mad at myself? How many people have gotten angry with me because I’ve said the wrong thing, and then start babbling, trying too hard to make up for my “stupidity” when I’m just…well….not being mindful.

Mindful that I’ve lost that part of myself. Mindful that I need to slow down, listen, take my time. Process. It’s OK….maybe I don’t need to say anything in that moment. Be quiet. Even if someone asks me for my opinion, they don’t need it right that moment if my words aren’t there. I can still yell “FIRE!!!!!” in case of emergency.

But I must slow down. Accept that this damned disease has taken from me everything precious, and I must protect what’s left by being mindful of it. The words are there, somewhere. They’re not lost, just hidden in the fog. They’ll come. I have to give them time.

The fog does clear, after all. Clear days happen more often than not. So why do I continue to fight the fog? (Part of the #BalanceIntention series for 2021)