Lifting weights #SOL2021

Backs are like canaries, an early warning system of the body. They alert us to dangers ahead, foretell the development of weaknesses, or misalignments, and signal the passage of time. Backs help us stand strong and carry weights.

My back gave way several years ago while lifting pressboard posters on a stairwell. I leaned forward ninety degrees at the waist reaching arms straight out in front of me to lift the thirty pound load. I collapsed on the landing knowing I should have taken time to move closer, assess the weight, or ask for help. But, I rarely ask for help.

And, I think I know why. My father is fiercely and proudly independent and I have flown similarly in this pattern, a murmuration of movements through life all the while feeling alone and I must do on my own. At ninety-six years old, I watch him decline, now with pneumonia, his back curling forward with the weight of time.

Yet, not all lifting is physical. I thought I was asking for help at a difficult time where life’s challenges weigh upon my usual inclination to keep doing and keep holding in the heaviness, alone. I asked for help with as much truth as words allow. I had hoped it would be met with empathy that was informed, that would lead me forward without leaning at ninety degrees. And, I should say that I was met with what appeared to be empathy, but not the kind that actively lightened or lessened or lifted any of this weight. Not the kind where someone sees you dropped the grocery bags in the parking lot and they wordlessly pick them up carrying them with you to your car because they can see this is too much for one alone. No words; just actions.

Now, to be fair, I know that everyone is stressed and overwhelmed with schooling in a pandemic. We each carry invisible loads, and I get it. But, I asked for help and I rarely ask for help. I shared very personal parts of my life, and now, I wish that I hadn’t.

A few weeks back, someone with a position of power over me, sat in my classroom describing the consequences of my request for help. I was given the scenarios in detail with a clear demonstration of how this would affect another. Of course, they know me. And, they knew this would be a deal-breaker. Selflessness is an exponential burden when your audience is comfortable with evasiveness and blame.

Sure, the facial expressions masquerading as genuine concern were there and the canned commentary about “wanting to do everything in our power to support you”. You lift this on your own, was never said. But, the conversation did make its way to the place where “my decision” would affect “opportunities for others”.

I feel a strain in my back now. I wonder if it was the workout, the lifting books, the awkward position I’m in when I open the windows of the classroom. I sit here this morning feeling proud and mournful for my father stuck in this swirling flight of life asking myself, how much does regret weigh?

11 thoughts on “Lifting weights #SOL2021

  1. Oh, my. Asking for help puts one in a vulnerable position, and at the same time takes so much courage. I wish your ask for help would have been met with more compassion and visible action. I wish I could help.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can imagine the weight of your regret and the pressing weight of carrying heavy loads for a long long time. I try hard not to let regrets rule the future, but I know it is challenging to look forward. I wish you peace in the journey ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie, this is a powerful post. I know all too well the false empathy of which you speak, this continued expectation that you continue your heavy lifting professionally. I am so sorry that you are experiencing this. Yet, you write of it so well! I hope the very writing eased the ache. I particularly love this line, love the way it rolls off my tongue when read aloud – “a murmuration of movements through life all the while feeling alone and I must do on my own.” Best wishes!

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  4. Melanie,
    My heart hurts for you. You made yourself vulnerable, allowed someone who should be helping you into your private life, and now feel betrayed. I do understand this feeling and wish you were not in this position, wish you were not feeling this pain, this betrayal. For that is what is happening right now. You trusted and had that trust betrayed. I want to lift that weight from your back, but especially from your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a powerful piece, Melanie. So many lines that struck me. The comments here are all so beautiful- Glenda’s really struck me too. I am sorry for what has happened but I think there is never shame in asking for help.

    Liked by 1 person

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