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Heart of Compassion #2 © 2012 Jane Waterman
Heart of Compassion #2 © 2012 Jane Waterman

Movement comes in many forms. Some are apparent on the surface, and others buried in the subconscious. I think I experienced some of both today.

I try to think of the words to share what I experienced, but I think I’m still processing.

Part of my resolution to allow more movement into my life meant for the most part, leaving behind the cane or walking sticks I have used for some 6 years. I think this support (or crutch as I sometimes cruelly called it to torment myself) had several purposes, but most of those are made redundant by recent movements in my subconscious.

Perhaps the most important reason for a walking aid, was to indicate my fragility to a world that could see nothing wrong with me. Whether on days that are “okay” or on days that I suffer greatly, on the outside I look the same – in fact, I seem to appear better on the days when things are worst. This is perhaps my automatic drive, like an injured bird, to hide an injury or illness to prevent becoming prey to a predator. I see the inherent contradiction between this subconscious drive, and outward appearance, but for a long time it was unknown to me.

Another key reason was an emotional crutch. A fear of falling that really had as much to do with my psychological fear than the reality. In 1996, shortly after my divorce, and death of my father, I fell headlong and broke my arm running for a train (perhaps ironically to meet my ex). The break took 3 months to heal… 3 months of my 30th year carrying a heavy arm in a tight sling around my neck. From that time on, I began to approach situations tenderly where I might stumble and fall. Many years later, I had my first attack of vertigo, crossing a city street. After several scary seconds, I got to the other side. The vertigo, which might have been a symptom of the Sjogren’s, or even some opportunistic infection, only reinforced a childish uncertainty of a “grounded” world.

I do believe it was my withdrawal from a PhD on disability in 2005 that secured the need for this crutch. I felt psychologically broken, and I suppose subconsciously I needed to reflect this brokenness. Many’s the time since then that I’ve felt weak, dizzy and disoriented by the world, that I’ve needed the support of my stick. Some 6 or so years later, I realize that my psyche needed the support perhaps more than my physical self did.

However, I’ve realized now that I no longer need to be afraid of falling. Perhaps one day I will fall, and fall again, and perhaps I will get hurt. Or perhaps I won’t. The stick has been an insurance policy, that has at last run out. I need to stop being afraid of falling. I need to stop being afraid that people will hurt me, without the physical signs of my (physical and psychical) infirmity. The last couple of weeks I have begun doing things without taking the stick – walking the dog, yoga class, and today, I did a vigorous movement class (and yes, that did scare and perplex me – I did feel dizzy several times, and needed to contact the wall to be sure my world was the right way up). It is scary, but it is also a reclamation of myself – the younger self before the several falls that damaged me.

I spent a lot of time with people today, arm to arm, in settings of grief and joy. I felt, I experienced, and I moved. I felt great love from and for people who have been in my life for some time – people who I felt could surely not love me. How wrong could I be! I met other people today for the first time, and realized the possibilities for greater connection and engagement with the world.

Movement reveals our fears and vulnerabilities. Silence and seclusion offers protection for the sensitive soul, but can protect us from life.

I realize that this latest step on our journey, however made with trepidation, is an embarkation on the path of the middle way.


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