Gravity is not a friend for most people. Ordinary people who don’t try to conquer gravity generally have a reasonable relationship unless steps jump or linoleum suddenly buckles and you do that unique dance movement called unexpected forward motion pirouette. A subgroup of humans have a special relationship with gravity, like ballet dancers. And there is a subgroup who fight gravity every day, but it is really their minds that weigh them down.
When I was a child I had classic flying dreams. I swam through the air like it was water, flew over everyone’s head, out of harm’s way, without fear of heights or falling – in varying states of clothing… (yes, I had those going-to-school-in-my-PJs dreams too). I seldom put my feet on the ground. If you can fly, why would you walk? As I have gotten older, I no longer fly in my dreams, but as my real-life activity has become limited, running dreams have taken over. Instead of flying, I run, usually in a brilliant green field with no mole burrows. I am never out of breath, my knees and back never hurt – I can run forever.
In real life, I couldn’t imagine running, jumping, anything more than walking at a relatively brisk stride. Once I even got stuck on a wall at work. Several of us had “climbed” up to take an office picture – we pushed and pulled each other up, took the picture, and everyone jumped down except me. I couldn’t jump. In my mind, my ankles were breaking on impact, or my knees, or I was landing on my face in the landscaping under us. There was no way. Somewhere on youtube is probably a video of me stuck up on that wall. Spectators had gathered for our picture and stayed for the spectacle of me stuck on a wall like a cat stuck in a tree. Fortunately, in situations like this, I laugh. Eventually, I was able to roll myself over onto my belly and sort of slide down the wall. It was embarrassing. And it was all in my mind.
When I started Crossfit bootcamp this winter, the first thing I had to do was pick up a jump rope and start jumping. I hadn’t jumped rope since junior high. I didn’t believe I could jump without hurting myself. But it wasn’t an option, and I did it. The second thing I had to do was run across the room and touch the floor and run back. I hadn’t run since the late 90s when I tried to run across the street (with oncoming traffic) and almost fell. I didn’t believe I could run without hurting myself. But it wasn’t an option, and I did it.
There were non-psychological reasons that triggered the psychological reasons for not being able to participate in gravity-defying exercises/activities. But it was the psychological reasons that prevented me from testing the waters now and then or to push the boundaries now and then.
So how do people with fibromyalgia find that balance between the physical and psychological? How do we find the courage to see how far we can go before we hurt ourselves? I jumped in when I had nothing to lose. Would I have been able to do extreme exercises if I wasn’t as low as I was?