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Pull yourself together…or apart rather!


I am lying in traction at the physical therapist’s office, my lower lumbar spine being gently pulled apart vertebra by vertebra. It’s an incredibly freeing feeling. Elongation, extension, expansion. I feel like we all spend our lives in compression; tightened, condensed, making ourselves smaller. Trying to disappear.

I’ve had issues with my back for years, (ever since I had children, ironically). Sometimes I give up trying to feel better and just attempt to accept a life of constant (yet bearable) discomfort. But then I hear of a new treatment or meet someone who knows someone who went to someone…and I’m back on the case; pursuing a cure like a committed archeologist, unwilling to leave even a single stone unturned. Hence, I am back on the rack in a swanky Scottsdale office, hoping my insurance will pay for this primitive form of torture that may ultimately bring relief.

They say that back problems have to do with support. I believe in that whole “new agey” thing that all physical ailments are related to psycho-spiritual issues we’re facing. The whole support thing makes sense to me. It’s hard to get enough support as a mom. Even with partners who pitch in, relatively well behaved children, and family nearby, life for a mom can feel unsupported when it’s mainly up to us to support anyone and everyone around us.

So the theory says that we manifest a physical ailment in lieu of expressing a tortured emotional state or facing what we deem to be an unacceptable psychological position. I buy that. In our society, it’s a hell of a lot more acceptable to be out of commission for a herniated disc than to have to lie down in a dark room because you’re kids have pushed you to the brink of insanity.

Somewhere along the line we learned that taking care of ourselves emotionally didn’t count nearly as much as our efforts to mend our physical selves and acknowledge our bodily problems. Feelings of helplessness, of being overwhelmed, unsupported, all the things that moms feel, we deemed were weak, needy, unacceptable. So we pushed them aside and donned our supermom capes and set out to show the world how strong, capable and competent we were. But without acknowledging the pain, the fear, the weakness, we become less of who we are . We compress our soles. We make ourselves fit into a role that doesn’t always allow our spirits to soar. And then we feel alone, small, unsupported.

Hmmm…maybe that’s why it feels so good to be in traction, to grow longer, to extend ourselves, to take up more space.

I think I may be on to something.

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

2 responses to “Pull yourself together…or apart rather!

  1. A lot of that makes sense.

    I just wanted to co-sign though on traction in general. Not much feels better on a bad back.

  2. “So we pushed them aside and donned our supermom capes and set out to show the world how strong, capable and competent we were. But without acknowledging the pain, the fear, the weakness, we become less of who we are . We compress our soles. We make ourselves fit into a role that doesn’t always allow our spirits to soar. And then we feel alone, small, unsupported”

    Great words…

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