What is normal anyway?
So... all this (fill in the type of pain here) in my (fill in an area of the body) that is giving me a (fill in the symptom here) and making my (fill in a limb or extremity) go numb... Is that normal? I get this question a lot. Which makes me feel a little confused because I am in no way an expert on normal. I would argue the opposite actually. And I'm thinking many of you feel similarly. Normal is a very funny word that seems to hold a lot of weight but means absolutely nothing. I mean, there is no normal. Right? At least this is my answer whenever a client asks this question. But as much as we might know that on some level, it doesn't cease to get lost in the fog that is life. Right? Like it's so easy to come to terms with how UNnormal we may be on some level, and then so quickly forget that this can apply to all the other levels of our complicated existence. Right? Am I right?
I'm right... I have to be. Cause if I'm not I'll lose my shit. Cause I can't feel not normal and happy at the same time. Let me restate that. Not normal is totally normal. Not normal is beautiful. Not normal is the goal here. Not being normal is exactly what I want. And if my brain decides for some stupid reason that it wants to be normal in some weird compartment of my life, then I've missed the boat and I just might actually drown. The last thing in the world I want is to feel like I have to be a certain way or look a certain way and then stress every time I don't manage to reach that bar. But I digress....
None of my clients actually ask me this question outside of why they feel pain. As least I hope not cause if they have I've been answering wrong this whole time. But the thing is... my answer would be exactly the same either way. I think that's the coolest thing about being a bodyworker. Or at least knowing a lot of stuff about anatomy. A sentence that applies to the brain can often be applied to muscles. And a theory about how muscles work is often also applied to how to brain works. Cool, right?
This might get a little confusing when it comes to pain, though. Cause the real question I feel like I am hearing is more: Why am I in pain? Oy... that's a doozy of a question. Because you're a human. That's why. For real though. This is not a pain-free experience we are having here. Now apply that to the emotional part of you. Now the spiritual. Makes sense right? Now the physical. Same. Don't get me wrong. Striving for pain-free living is a noble goal. One I work towards myself. Tirelessly it seems. But the spiritual gurus and well-respected psychologists will argue that acceptance is half the battle to conquering pain. Ask a massage therapist? Same answer.
If you work out all the time, you need to rest more. If you don't move enough, you need to get your ass in gear. If you don't sleep enough, you need to sleep more. If you sleep too much, you need to cut back. If you sit all the time, you need to stand. If you stand all the time, you need to sit. And around and around we go. Even when you find an answer, often it switches and then you're back at square one. Figuring it out takes time. And the ability to know yourself. Who out there knows themselves? And if you do think you know yourself, how often do you wake up and realize something new and possibly something completely shocking about yourself? (I'm raising my hand right now)
Enter acceptance. I read once that finding peace is about figuring out that the road we are on has bumps. When we expect a smooth ride we will always get pissed about the bumps. When we expect the bumps, we can then look out the window and see what the world is all about. I loved this. It's so true right? Physical pain is but a bump in the road. Some bumps are bigger than others. And admittedly some bumps even throw us off the road. It happens. Not much we can do about it.
So what is normal? Normal is an asymmetrical body that hurts when it is used, not used, abused, and sometimes even when we treat it well. Normal is aging and changing constantly with no ability to grab on and cling to anything constant. From a massage therapists perspective, knots are normal. Forward head posture is normal. Pigeon toes are normal. Winged scapulae are normal. Hyper-lordosis is normal. These things happen. They are like badges of honor that commemorate you and your life. Your path. Your bumpy road. Wear it with pride and keep moving forward. Then go get a massage. It will help.