emotional foam rolling

Despite this blog’s current domain name (nomad.blog), I’m practicing staying in one place. You’d think this would be an obvious thing to. do since I have had an apartment somewhere in San Diego for most of the last 3 years but that didn’t stop me in the past. I’ve left for months at a time returning only for a few weeks before departing again.

I’m finding that the longer I stay in one place, the more memories spontaneously come to the surface. It’s as if when I travel, my brain is too busy making new connections with people or ideas to be bothered to treat me to some memories. Staying put seems to free me up to process, reflect, etc in a way that I can’t always do on the road. Thankfully, this delayed remembering mostly feels so lovely – it’s a lot of randomly catching myself smiling.

Recently though, these happier feelings have given way to a painful rawness. Four days ago, I couldn’t sleep turning over in my head memories of my younger queer self and the immense amount of painful moments my unknown sexual identity resulted in. I texted two other queer friends from middle & high school who I knew would understand in an attempt to ease these feelings. The memories raged on while my soul progressively fell into what felt like a deep and recent heartbreak. It was shocking and aggressive. Even just writing about it, I can feel my heart begin to ache.

It feels like I’m thawing out. I’m reminded of this quote:

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

Brené Brown

To be clear, I don’t feel I’ve been numbing myself. I think I’ve been making tradeoffs. With nomading, I’ve been able to add breadth to my life in terms of memories, experiences, connections. Sometimes this breadth led to depth but it wasn’t the priority. As I stay put, my brain naturally seems to be going after depth now. Going back to therapy recently seems to be acting as a catalyst for this one woman heartbreak show too.

I’m catching myself needing to take deep breaths. Ouch. It hurts. This morning as I drove to snag donuts (yummmm), intrusive memories of the accident I witnessed when I was 16 randomly popped into my head. I gripped the steering wheel and felt tears come to my eyes. At first, I was mad at myself — why am I regressing to thinking about something from a full decade ago? I paused after doing this and tried to love myself through it instead.

“Ooof. That was such a rough time. Those feelings of helplessness are so hard to shake. Aren’t you glad you made it here now?”

I sent some love to past Anne, changed the music to a calmer song, and let my heart slowly return to normal. Indulging vs processing is such a thin line.

The only analogy I can offer for what this all feels like is one many likely won’t understand. I’ll say it anyway: All of this reminds me of foam rolling. Foam rolling is a way to improve flexibility, reduce knots in your muscles, and to help decrease potential soreness. To do it properly, you’re actually supposed to roll and pause when you hit a SUPER painful point. That’s right. You hold the position that hurts the most until – in 15 to 20 seconds – the pain is about half of what it was. From there, you roll until you run into another particularly rough spot and repeat. I’ve started foam rolling more after my chiropractor mentioned it’s one of the best things I can do to stay nimble as I age. While I continue to use my body for a variety of new and awesome things, I still have my same sore spots that I’ve had since I was a young soccer player. Sometimes, I work out in a way that causes them to flare up and when I go to foam roll, I feel them a little more that day. I never get annoyed when that’s the case. These spots are a natural part of my body and in holding the most painful positions I know I’m taking care of myself. In fact, I know I’m helping future Anne accomplish what she wants. As the pain eases, I move on to the next.

I’m in a phase of emotional foam rolling. Like foam rolling, this is something I’ll have to do for decades but, right now, I’m choosing to do so a little bit more. I don’t want to lose the flexibility of my soul. I don’t want sore spots to become bigger problems. I pause and love my way through these moments now knowing it’ll be worth it.

If only there was a way to pick and choose when to emotionally foam roll though so I wasn’t caught by surprise when I accidentally step into a sore spot!


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