Thursday evening's Aquatics Community Class - Find Your Core Strength - incorporates contralateral movements (side to side movements using opposite arm and leg) that are incredibly challenging for me. I can feel myself finding my way out of the stiffness in my neuromuscular system that is a result of having contracted paralytic polio as a child followed by 9 years of unrelenting trauma that caused me to stiffen up as in being scared stiff.
When I first began the Aquatics classes, I would find myself judging what I couldn't do. I would get frustrated as I felt this urgency to be able to "get it" and gracefully execute the movements as our therapist, Diana is able to do with ease on land.
Last night, I felt a shift in myself. As Diana reviewed and cued the movements specifically to me, I noted the weakness and the difficulty I had in executing the movement while at the same time feeling overwhelming compassion for myself for having experienced the challenge of paralytic polio.
But then there are those moments when I can feel the after effects of polio and trauma in my body. In the deep end of the pool, Diana had us doing the "pummel horse" gymnastics routine. I have done it before and suffered through the dizziness I felt. Not so last last night -- I decided to stop when I felt the dizziness and told Diana that exercise was not for me. She gave me another exercise that brings about the same results but wouldn't result in dizziness. I shared with her how, when I was in gym class, the teacher would unwittingly force me into doing things that were not right or good for my body and one day I had a mini seizure after she forced me into a somersault off of the pummel horse.
I used to feel really angry about these kinds of experiences in my childhood. I used to get so frustrated that my body would not and could not do what I was asking it to. In the healing waters of Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab, there is no room for anger or frustration. There is only noting the weakness and the challenges, finding and feeling my strength and discovering the healing power of compassion and acceptance. There is only joy and celebration for being able to do what I couldn't do a week or six weeks before and there is only resolve to continue working to be my healthiest and best self.
The Fire of Compassion from A Celebration of Life available on Amazon
Compassion warms my heart for those whose hearts were cold
once shivering in fear
one so tender and vulnerable…
the fire of compassion
wielding the welding torch
he opens the portal for my Spirit
changing what was wrought upon me
lighting the way to find my way home.