It’s The Arms, Stupid
(This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)
Of course fixing my feet was not going to be as easy as AE made it sound. I thought she was just going to pop that talus bone right back onto the calcanus and all my troubles would be behind me. But that’s not how things work around here. “First we have to deal with those arms of yours,” she said.
“What’s wrong with my arms?”
AE had me stand in front of the mirror and study a pair of arms that I’ve looked at every day for my entire life. They looked fine to me, but apparently they’re not. She pointed out how my shoulders roll back and the insides of my elbows point forward, how my hands hang toward by back rather than toward my front. She looked at me from every direction, like a property surveyor who’s making sure the edges of your lot line up precisely with the plans he’s been given.
“Your fourth hour line is a mess,” she said, invoking a rolfing term. In my ignorance, I’m unaware that this means she’s not only going to fix my pronating feet, she’s also going reposition my arms on my body. Of course, I’m completely unaware of what that might entail.
My arm “problem” confounded me for a while. After our sessions I would go home and study them in the mirror and there wasn’t a thing about them that seemed amiss. It occurred to me that maybe my twisted arms were responsible for my never being able to execute a push-up. Or why I would invariably injure myself within a few sessions of weight training, even if I was lifting the smallest possible amount of weight.
My arms hang much different now than they did back in those first sessions. I actually came across a picture of myself, taken with my son before his junior prom, probably a month before I started to see AE. My body looks completely deformed to me now in that picture – my shoulders drawn so far back it looks almost painful. That used to be my normal.
There’s this completely irrational thing that happens to me whenever I can’t execute some physical objective with my arms. I fall apart. I can’t exactly name the feeling but it sits somewhere between brokenness and shame. It rises up in my throat and my face gets hot. I can’t speak because, if I do, I’ll just sob. This has happened in exercise classes, yoga classes, dance classes, and tennis lessons. It’s even happened when I’m trying to move furniture. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, only that it requires some upper body strength and there’s someone present to witness my failing.
But when AE tells me my arms are twisted and it’s causing havoc in my body, I don’t feel either shame or broken. I feel like suddenly, for the first time, someone understands what’s wrong with me. And when she says she can fix that, too, I say, “Bring it.”