growing pains

all three of my girls have been, at various stages of their lives, relatively tall for their ages.  as a result, they have all, at one point or another, experienced some growing pains.  literally, achy backs, sore knees, weird shin-related pains that seemed to come out of nowhere.  when faced with complaints over these pains, it always took me a minute to realize what was actually happening. i would ask all the usual mom questions, “did you bump yourself? fall down and don’t remember? jump on the trampoline for too long?”. only once we’d managed to go down this list did it occur to me that these were just growing pains. here today, gone tomorrow as the bones and the muscles and the ligaments all caught up to one another.

my own growth was relatively average in compared to my girls.  in addition, i was a relatively clumsy child too so when i had an odd pain it almost always had some sort of mishap attached to it! this is probably one of the reasons it always took me so long to recognize what was happening as their limbs expanded.

this year though, completely unexpectedly, at the ripe old age of 42, has been filled with growing pains!  not your usual growing pains, of course, although i have had my fair share of achy shoulders, stiff neck, and out of the blue stomach aches, but growing pains, nonetheless.

for me, living through the pandemic has laid bare truths and realities that i had somehow previously managed to keep hidden, lurking just under the surface of my consciousness.  so many feelings and hurts i had attributed to bad timing but good intentions; kindheartedness with a lack of empathy; good natured self-centeredness; necessary sacrifices that would eventually receive due recognition. 

i have written before that it seems to me the pandemic amplified us.  our personalities, challenges, fears, strengths- uncertainty, stress and worry has placed them on clear display- to embrace or reckon with as the situation requires.

for me, this has come with a whole slew of growing pains.  in particular, i’ve realized that there are so many things that i just need to let go of.

first and foremost, the idea that my truth is less true than those of others; it’s not. mine is just as true; but i really don’t need to convince anyone of this. i know it. that’s enough.

also, the shame that sometimes comes with putting my own truth first. that’s got to go. the idea that self-care is selfish goes high on the list of things to throw out.  regret and “what ifs”.  these are pretty useless too.

turns out that letting go of all this is painful.  literally, not just figuratively, i have woken up some mornings with a persistent ache, a kind of grief, as not just my soul, but my body too, tries to acknowledge what is being released. 

and with these growing pains, just as in the case of a child, there comes a new sort of space.  i’m the same size, clearly, as i was last year, but i feel bigger.  there is more of me to fill with new ways of being, new ways of thinking and new ways of feeling.

and just as it is for children, i can tell that these growing pains aren’t going to be a one day, one week or even one month thing.  it’s going to take a while and i am likely to have a good deal of aches in the process.

this week it’s my neck. it’s a sensitive spot for me and where i deposit a lot of sadness.  i was really sad this week, but instead of taking some advil and using lots of china gel i worked hard to be sad. to be really sad and get through the ache that way.  i slowed down and watched as the sadness washed in and out like waves on a beach.

there’s something coming in behind the sadness. i don’t know what it is quite yet, but it feels hopeful and strong. and i have the new space to hold onto it when it gets here.