A new gym opened up in my area. It has lots of amenities including an indoor pool, sauna, and a steam room. It is cheaper than my discounted YMCA membership. I switched.
After my swim yesterday, I went into the sauna. There were a few other people there besides me.
The sauna is co-ed. People go in clothed. It’s weird, but, apart from being clothed in a sauna, it’s not uncomfortable.
A man started talking to me about swimming because I was in my bathing suit wrapped in my oversized towel. I told him that I’m not really a swimmer. Something possessed me (maybe the heat?) to tell this guy a little bit about myself, CRPS, and my recent life in general.
He is on his “weight loss journey” and asked me innocently with 100% sincerity, “how do you find the motivation? How do you hold yourself accountable?”
I was thrown by his questions. I couldn’t very well launch into the fact that for years misery was my primary motivator, so I took my time to think about my answer. It went something like this:
“The truth is that I don’t really think about ‘motivation’ or ‘accountability.’ I can’t say I even understand what it means to hold myself accountable, and I don’t know how I’d go about doing that. I guess my inner monologue isn’t a voice of psychobabble words I learned from somebody else… Sorry… I don’t mean that to be an insult…
“My only “motivation” (if you will) is my rigid refusal to accept an unacceptable situation. And my situation is unacceptable. I can’t accept not being able to walk (even though I couldn’t walk for many months), I can’t accept living in my parents’ house. I can’t accept not having any form of social life. I can’t accept not being able to have gainful employment.
“Over time, I have taken stock of all of the things I cannot accept and balanced them with the things that I can accept in order to change my life. Because my life will not change (at least for the better) without significant effort on my part. I have to accept painful treatments. I have to accept the cyclical sine wave patterns of pain. I have to accept this pain always being in my life. I have to accept the mind-fuck that is CRPS. I have to accept the fact that every day, I wake up in a different body with different abilities. And, if I want to be considered “normal” I have to accept these things alone in silence. I’m forcing myself to get better about hiding my condition.
“I dread the first step every morning. I never want to get up. I always want to stay in bed. I consciously decided to make a habit out of getting out of bed in the morning because if I don’t, if I stay in bed when I am able to get up, that is the beginning of accepting the unacceptable. And by definition, if something is unacceptable it simply cannot be accepted.”
I recognize that my struggles are completely different than his, but he looked at me like he understood what I was saying, like what I said meant something to him.
We talked for a little bit more before I had to leave. The sauna became a little too sauna-y for me.
Walking away, I realized that more and more frequently people don’t look at me with pity. People have started to look at me with some other emotion in their eyes that I barely recognize: respect.