My Love and Hate Relationship with the Barre

My hands grip the barre until my knuckles start to pale; my rings dig into my fingers from the pressure. I am clinging to the slender wood for dear life as my entire body threatens to tremble into a puddle on the thin carpet.

“Rise onto your highest pair of heels, and sink you seat an inch lower,” the instructor says as she paces methodically around the room. Her tone is soothing, yet her words abrate my mind as my muscles beg me to stop in an ascending burn.

I roll onto my toes, pressing and arching my foot until I feel my calf muscle ball up behind the back of my knee. As I ease my hips lower, awkwardly squatting above my elevated heels, my legs behind to vibrate. It’s a subtle tremble at first, just a quiver on the edge of my skin, sending waves through the acid beginning to team on my muscles. I breathe through pursed lips and hold tighter to the barre.

“Now tuck to tempo. Tuck, tuck, tuck.”

I dig deep and gather the muscles of my abdomen in towards my spine, tilting my pelvis up into my torso. The muscles that still feel so distended from two babies. With each tuck, fire licks the tops of my thighs. My heels press against each other, desperate to stay lifted. I feel the weakness trickle down, pouring over my legs down into my perched toes.

“Lower your hips down an inch, up an inch. Little down, little up.”

My muscles practically cackle at her words they sound so outrageous. Didn’t she mean lower your heels and lock your knees? Stand like a normal, relaxed person?

I close my eyes and breathe more purposefully. I do not look in the mirror. I do not want to see the sweaty tomato of my face while my reflection wants to give up so deeply. 

“This is your last change,” she says.

Hope blossoms across my chest. I can do this. It has to be less than a minute left.

A minute of burning hell on my legs.

I lower and lift my hips against the objections of my flesh. I make the small, controlled motions even though my nerves send relentless messages indicating they cannot comply. My body moves just the same. With each lower, the shake seizes me. My heels wobble and smack together; my knees knock and tremble. I can feel the vibrations rolling up my body in waves all the way to my cheeks.

“Final 10 strong. 1, 2, 3, 4…”

The countdown inspires me. Only 10 tiny movements left. I clutch the barre harder, close my eyes tighter, focus only on her count. I drop my seat lower, tuck my hips harder. My entire body is a mess of quivering fire.

” 9 and 10.”

I made it. I lock my knees and bask in the pleasant rush of the acid receding from my muscles. I breathe out relief as the heat stops flaring beneath my face.

Then I feel it, somewhere between the endorphins and the accomplishment–the high. The pain in my body evolves into euphoria, and my mind climbs somewhere both level and calm.

 

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I believe I can safely say that I have reached addiction level with my affair with Pure Barre.

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That is what I do, after all: become addicted to things. Substances, activities, people, places. My mind will turn about anything into a drug. I live in extremes and chases excesses. If a little is good, more must be better, and a lethal dose is probably where I’ll end up.

Hence the attempt to shift addictions to “healthy” outlets. But I digress…

I started trying barre classes because an acquaintance of mine had started teaching classes and was posting about it. I was mired in my obsession to recover from my son and was trying any and all fitness options available, so I gave it a shot.

The first class absolutely annihilated me. I could scarcely perform the exercises included, and I was sore like I potentially never have been. And I rarely get sore anyway.

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I enjoyed the class, felt deeply intrigued by the challenge; however, I was married to my gym and the full schedule of classes I committed to every week. I could not afford the extra expense and more the extra time without provided child care. So barre became an occasional flirtation, once a month or so.

At some point, I started going more frequently. Perhaps when my son’s school schedule changed and gave me more unencumbered time. Then I purchased a deal on classes without actually reading the fine print. When my unused classes were about to expire, the studio owner was gracious enough to give me an extension, into which I stuffed every class I could make.

Boom. Addiction.

I actually injured my hamstring doing barre stretches. After a dance class, I was moving gently through the thigh stretch sequence. When I came down easily into the splits (which was a celebrated accomplishment), something popped, and five months later, I am still recovering. Ironically enough, the activity that injured me also seems to the best suited to my injury. With its minute, controlled movements, barre  is the perfect exercise to strengthen my hamstring without straining it further.

It is as if the class itself has trapped me.

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Now, I am a 2-3 classes a week attendee whenever I can support it. With my obsessive commitment, it is pretty often though children and work are known to pop up in the way. Barre even has me convinced me to abandon the gym, shifting to only barre, belly dance, and running. Once I found a piece of dance to complete my heart, I was sold.

I LOVE and HATE Pure Barre classes, potentially equally, definitely simultaneously.

The classes themselves make me uncomfortable. Yes, I am a dancer; I was a belly dancer for eight years and still pursued hauntings of that with zumba and hip hop classes. However, that is all VERY different from ballet. The only ballet I have experienced is watching my daughter’s classes. I had the benefit of knowing how to tuck my hips, but the form and movements are all completely divergent. It throws my body out of its comfort zone, challenges its muscle memory and ingrained positions.

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Yet, beyond the physical fluency, I do not look like a ballerina. The instructors and the majority of the students look like they came up on the barre, long, lean, and svelte. I am a thicker girl with curves and things that shake when I shimmy. Never do I look larger than in a classroom full of these slender former dancers. And that unavoidable comparison tickles every tingle of body dysmorphia I have. Hating myself in a barre class mirror is what pushed me back to counting calories (which I thankfully have dropped again).

This discomfort is part of the reason I keep going back. Yes, I am a masochist at heart, but it is also the challenge that seduces me. I want to feel like I overcame the weakness of my flesh; I want to feel like I made progress battling back the crazy in my mind.

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Physically, I am enticed by not being good at it, by it always being hard no matter how much I improve. Like running, regardless of how much I train or how I often I do it, I am not able to coast. I coasted through my entire youth; I don’t want that anymore. If I somehow master one routine, it changes to a new one that wreaks havoc on my muscles. And I’m a sucker for the pain of it.

And it hurts. So much. The class is literally painful. You would think such tiny movements would be easy. Absolutely not. My muscles are on fire and trembling the entire class. I can feel tidal waves of acid blaze over my nerves. My knuckles go white clinging to that barre for dear life. I sweat as much as I do in high cardio. It hurts. Yet on the flip side of that pain is the rush after, the high, the euphoria. Which is ultimately what I am always physically chasing. Which I why I am so addicted to running.

As much as it pains me physically, the true challenge for me is mental, emotional. That goddamn echo of an eating disorder I can’t seem to shake. Mentally, I refuse to be controlled my own insecurities. I will not allow my misguided, shallow fixations and comparisons to prevent me from doing anything. I may feel gigantic and weak in these classes, out of place and incongruent with all the other participants, but that is why I have to keep going. Not to work my way into fitting in but to make myself become comfortable standing out. I will learn to love and accept myself one way or another. If I can wrangle bipolar, body distortion should be downhill from here. Even if I have to sit with my own self-loathing beating at my chest and a swarm of inappropriate comparisons buzzing in my brain for 100 classes. I will not limit myself.

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And with each class, it gets better. I feel more at home in the class; I feel more comfortable in my skin. I am wearing myself down, dulling my sensitivities, making it part of my normal. If I can accomplish that, it would be far more valuable than getting to a certain size or weight.

So I love and hate the physical challenge. I hate and need the mental challenge. The results… I just love.

My son is over two now. I have been literally beating myself up for two years trying to recover from him. Between thyroid issues and injuries, diets and different classes, nothing really worked. Or maybe did not work fast enough for me. Either way. Yet, with the recent burst of barre classes, I not only notice a different in the performance of my muscles, I actually physically see the different on my body. I think all the cross training is why my running pace continues to improve though my injury does not and training has not happened at all.

Most of all, these classes are doing amazing things for my ass (or “seat,” as they call it). It is at a height and shape it has never been in my life. My waistline, or saddlebags if you will, are also trimming way down. My back is tightening up. Muscles are starting to bulge out of my flexed quads and calves like they did when I played soccer in high school. My body is not perfect, not where the crazy part of my mind demands it be, but I am seeing the positive results. The more I see, the more fervently I devote to the classes.

So I’m in it, maybe all in it, working harder at quelling my self-abuse and finding a real acceptance for my body than anything else. If barre is the tool I need and makes my body healthier in the process, all the better. I’ll be there, obsessively shaking at the barre.

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And just to up the ante, I am also doing the Whole30 challenge as part of my new commitment to the barre. Not to lose weight, not to starve myself but because my body needs the detox and the reset. And because it does not allow any weighing or measuring. I am going all in, striving to find my strength and my balance.

setthebarre

Christina Bergling

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Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
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thewaning_coverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

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Collected Christmas

Some of the best voices in horror fiction decided to band together and tell you some tales about a different kind of Christmas.

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Resolutions

Ah, the new year. An arbitrary revolution of the calendar that gives us the illusion or the excuse at a fresh start.

I have made many resolutions over the years, mostly of the extreme or self-loathing variety. Not all of them are precipitated by the new year; that just presents a convenient excuse to brand intention into my brain. Over the course of my “fitness journey” (read: whole damn life), I have made countless goals and resolutions. And each time I fail at them or they turn on me, I tell myself that I have learned from them; that I will get it right next time. Yet, instead, I seem to find a new way of getting it wrong, another unique way of pushing it too far and perverting the intention to masochistic proportions.

So I am accepting this quirk in my pathology, this extremist tendency of mine. I am acknowledging and embracing it. I am changing my resolution paradigm. Instead, I am going to keep it simple. My goal, my new year’s resolution as it were is: BALANCE.

That’s it. Balance.

(Potentially the hardest thing ever for me, by the way.)

I want to find the compromise between a hardcore diet and binging on food. I want to exercise from a place of health, loving my body, and enjoying the activity rather than to punish my body. I want to find a way to pursue my goals while also appreciating where I am.

Balance.

I think this idea has become especially important as I recently decided to return to therapy. I have not worked with a therapist since I was pregnant and post-partum with my daughter, over 5 years ago. Yet, I very lately plunged into a bought of body dysmorphia so strong, so persistent, so pervasive that I felt compelled to reestablish a clinical lifeline.

Generally, when I am managing my crazy, I can diffuse distorted thoughts by analyzing them, dismantling them, and applying logic. It may not necessarily cure or alleviate the feelings, but generally, it brings me back to perspective enough to ride it out while preventing behavioral consequences. In this particular round, nothing had any impact on the thoughts. I could tell myself that it was physically impossible to gain any significant amount of weight overnight, yet I just continued to obsess, fixate, hate myself, plan how I would punish myself.

It was alarming enough for me to decide to do something different. It has been over two years of unhealthy obsession disguised as health and recovery. I need to break the cycle and actually create balance in my mind more than anywhere else.

I am also changing my fitness regime with the new year. After two years of being devotedly dedicated to the gym, I am dropping my membership. My favorite zumba teacher left. They dropped the hip hop class I enjoyed. I went from attending 6+ times a week to maybe 2. It is simply not worth the investment. Plus, it is time to spice things up.

In the spirit of enjoyment over punishment, I am trading the gym to return to belly dance. I am also diving into my new barre addiction. And, hamstring willing, I want to get back to more running.

I guess my new year’s resolution is to have no resolution, to learn to let go. To find my balance.


Back on the Slopes

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I have been following in my father’s ski tracks my entire life. Not much has changed. My father put me on skies when I was three years-old; then I spent winter mornings in ski school until I was able to ski blue runs fluently.

So many ski trips are burned into my memory. Packing up before dawn and heading out toward the mountains. A pack of licorice and the ski cassette tape of classic rock, so used that it began to unravel. Aching ankles, sore legs, and full body chills into the nap on the way home.

I haven’t skied in YEARS. The last time I attempted to ski, I never even saw the slopes. I was pregnant with my (now two year-old) son and had debilitating morning sickness. I puked the entire drive up to the resort, on the side of the road in heavy Denver traffic. Then I spent the day vomiting in the lodge. The entire day. I passed out on the table then stumbled into the bathroom to lose the sips of water I had taken. The sickness, puking, and cramps were so serious that I was honestly concerned I was going to lose my baby.

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This time, I brought my five year-old daughter for her first time skiing, and, just like my father before me, I deposited her in ski school in the morning. Establishing and continuing family traditions.

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The day did not start out well for me. After my daughter was all squared away and I launched off with my father and sister, I found my ski boots very uncomfortable. I had them before my two children and apparently my feet changed substantially in that time. When I wrestled all the bindings closed, they pressed on my ankle in some way that was just excruciating. My toes went numb; it felt like the side of my foot was tearing.

I tried to power through. I told myself to breathe through it. I told myself it would loosen with time. I popped a couple bindings. Yet, on the lift, I had to counsel myself out of how much it hurt.

On the first run down, I found skiing to be very difficult, harder than I really remembered. I wobbled. I was slow and cautious. It was just unpleasant. I did not feel like myself at all. I thought perhaps it had been too long and I had forgotten my technique over the years. By the bottom, I decided to just go rent new boots.

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New boots were like a whole new world. Without the pain, everything became easy again; muscle memory returned. My mind even cleared and returned. After months of dealing with the constant hamstring pain, I simply could not process additional pain signals; I could not deal. Yet without the pain, skiing was awesome again! Even with my gimpy hamstring, I blazed down after my family, carving around moguls and bouncing over powder.

I forgot how good it felt to whip down a mountain, to hear the snow compacting under me, to feel the flakes in the winter air on my face. I felt that familiar euphoria and remember why I loved it so much.

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We laid down some good runs in the morning. The Loveland win bit hard on the high lifts, but otherwise, we rode the mountain under clear skies and high sun. The hamstring only balked when carving through ice or deep powder and only when turning left when I really had to lean down into that left leg.

We took lunch and then back to the slopes. Somewhere in the afternoon, we accidentally ended up on a black run. Black runs are not out of any of our ability; however, with my father’s spinal stenosis and disk cyst and my 5 months injured hamstring, it was not in our plan for the day (I wonder where I get my tendency to ignore pain and do whatever I want in spite of my body). We all survived, but the run pretty much winded down our day.

We migrated from the Basin back to the Valley to have some drinks waiting for my daughter to be done with ski school. I was curious to see how she did, but she loved it and did fantastic.

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We took her on one final run to end the day. She did so well. I was impressed at her ability after one short day and amazingly proud of her. For a child who often whines and attempts to get people to do things for her, she was calm and determined and brave, even after 5 hours of ski school. She wanted to keep going; she outlasted the adults.

In the end, it was a great day. Plenty of exercise that reminded me of why I love the sport and another opportunity to introduce my daughter to an activity I enjoy. It will definitely not be years before I return to the slopes.

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Jingle Bell 5K

It is that time of year again: the time to freeze our bells off running a 5K in the variable Colorado winter weather.

On the morning of the Jingle Bell 5K, I woke up feeling rather awful. My head was splitting; my stomach wound in agitated knots. I felt hungover without the benefit of getting drunk the night before. I also dressed for a balmy 40-50 degree run and was instead greeted by a penetrating frosty bite on the air.

In short, I was simply not feeling it.

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My daughter and I began with a visit to Santa, where I asked for a healed hamstring for Christmas. Then the kids’ race was first. My daughter again asked to run without me, which left me feeling some combination of proud and a little hurt. I know she ultimately does not want me to run with her because I push her, don’t let her stop, don’t indulge her crying. Maybe I’m too hard on a 5 year-old.

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But she does great without me. Without me, she ran the full distance at a good pace. Maybe I bring out the whiner in her.

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After the kids were whisked away to the warmth by grandparents, Trisha and I settled in to run our race. We decided to just stick together and just run. No striving, no PRs, just running.

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And we just ran. We chatted about nothing. We watched a fight ensue over headphones versus stroller running (like really? Merry Christmas, guys). I didn’t think about pace or if my muscles were burning or if I could breathe right or if I was keeping up with other runners. I didn’t think.

I floated the majority of the first half. Just floated right along, which is extremely strange for me in the opening mile. A little exertion warmed me right up, and I was shedding layers in no time. My hamstring had ached in the morning yet felt better on the run. It would balk from time to time, twinge at a certain stride, yet overall, it hurt less to be running.

We ended up laying down a great race. At the Great Pumpkin 5K (October), I ran a 37 minute 5K. At the Turkey Trot 5K (November), I ran a 35 minute 5K. At this Jingle Bell 5K, we did a 34 minute 5K. So, even though my injury persists and my running regiment has gone to hell, my pace is steadily improving. Perhaps thanks to all the cross training. Whatever it is, I will take it!

(Also, turns out the Great Pumpkin was also my 50th race; that happened when I wasn’t paying attention.)

I was extremely pleased with the run overall. Our time turned out awesome, but it did not even really matter. It was running with a friend for the sake of running, and the simplicity was so enjoyable after so many months of over critiquing myself.

It felt free.

 

**Hamstring update**

I finally folded and went to the doctor for my hamstring. These near five months later. The pain had escalated to the point that it hurt to sleep, hurt to sit in a chair, hurt to stand up completely straight. That constant pain started to affect my mood and irritability levels, which in turn got taken out on my family, so steps needed to be taken.

In all honesty, I went to the doctor just hoping for some Vicoden or any other pain killer that would make it stop just for a little while. Just one night of being able to roll over without whimpering. Just one day of not cringing and hobbling around. The doctor, not too surprisingly, decided on a different course of treatment.

Rather than pain killer to mask the discomfort, he gave me anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation and hopefully promote healing. The first couple days, it felt like a cure. My leg felt completely like mine again. My flexibility returned. My body felt normal. I could have vibrated out of my skin with relief and excitement. It took every ounce of my considerably weak self-control to not overdo it and leap directly back into full force exercise. I wanted to run a marathon and climb a mountain.

Yet, as the dosage of the medication weaned off the nine day burst, the pain returned. First, it was just twinges again, just the wrong movement or wrong angle. Now, completely off the pills, the leg is slowly creeping back to where we began. It is still better. My flexibility remains vastly improved, but it is worsening by the day.

My ultimate gauge, the line I had in my mind to mark where I was, had been if I had the painful hitch when I stood all the way up. Until today, I was short of that. Today, it started to hint. That stab in my buttcheek as I step out of the car, that hiccup in the fluidity of standing.

I hope I’m not regressing fully. It was so nice to taste recovery. If nothing else, it gave me a little hope, reminded me of what it will be like when it doesn’t hurt every day.

I am scheduled for an MRI next week, so we will know more then. Though my money is on, “hey it’s torn or whatever, just let it heal and do some physical therapy. Oh and pay us $1,000 for the MRI.”

Either way, I can run, and my fitness feels on point lately, so it’s good enough for me. I have found a way to make myself sane around the injury, and at some point, it has to get better.

 

Christina Bergling

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Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

 

thewaning_coverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

 

collectedchristmas_cover

Collected Christmas

Some of the best voices in horror fiction decided to band together and tell you some tales about a different kind of Christmas.

Available now on Amazon!


Annual Turkey Trot (Year 4)

I have now entered my near fourth month with the hamstring injury. Overall, it has improved, yet day to day, I move forward one step then back two to six. The pain moves, migrates. It has traveled over the length of my hamstring, lingered in the attachments on the side of my knee and deep in my buttcheek. It has even crept up into my sciatic nerve. Once I adjust to the new manifestation, it mutates again. More or less, I am just in constant discomfort.

Yet, beneath the constant, nagging pain, it is slowly improving. My flexibility on that side is returning, working to match the healthy side. It feels better when I’m active. Actually, it feels better during and after activity than it does any other time. The absolute worst is while I am laying down and sleeping. Turning over is an instant of sheer agony.

After working with my chiropractor and personal trainer over these months to rehab the injury, I finally folded and went to the doctor. The doctor seemed rather impressed with the severity and persistence of the injury. He sighted so many points of inflammation and compensation. I wanted pain killers, something to just ease the pain as I healed, especially while I slept, yet I walked out with anti-inflammatory medication and an order for an MRI. Physical therapy is coming. I guess I will take it. I’ll try anything at this point. The resting pain is getting brutal.

But, like I said, activity is getting better. Which includes running! After months of skipping my own runs and focusing only on training Michelle at run club, I decided at the Turkey Trot, I would try to actually run for real. I did so at The Great Pumpkin Run, but that was the only other time, and that was rough.

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So I went for it. I ran like I had no injury, and strangely, I felt like I had no injury. I also felt like I had not run for months and my cardio was absolute shit, especially in the blasting icy wind. But I didn’t have hamstring pain during the run!

This Turkey Trot is always a challenge. The opening mile is painful, rolling incline. By the time I finally reach the returning decline, I am usually sputtering and roasting to death in my own exertion. This year was no different than the previous, only with the inclusion of my lack of training and the wind blaring off the prairie.

I went back to basics. I just kept pushing. I just kept running. I forced myself not to obsess over my pace or gauge myself against the surrounding runners. I made my focus the lack of pain in my hamstring and not stopping. I didn’t stop. I just ran, sloppily wogging at best at points. I scarcely found a float at any point, and I dry heaved with vigor at the end, but it was worth it to feel something like myself again.

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I even pulled a pretty average time for me. Happy Thanksgiving to me!

I’m hoping it is a step back into running. A cautious, slow step. An attempt at moderation and compromise with my body. Because my mind is not taking this no running business. The insanity is flaring up on all sides and screaming for the outlet. Just not at the price of the flesh. I think I will always tear myself apart, even trying to be healthy, even fumbling for balance.

In addition to my own 5K, my daughter participated in the 1K kids’ run.

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And she ran the whole thing. All by herself with her friends. She was so excited and proud of herself. And so was I.

It was a good run morning. My favorite way to start the holiday. I crashed when we returned home, of course. My sinus infection flared up; my hamstring tightened. I just drank mimosas until I didn’t feel feelings, and it turned into a good day.

Christina Bergling

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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Creepy Crawl 5K

Before I say anything else, why in the hell is it so HOT in October? At the end of October. It is just ridiculous. It almost makes me happy that I still cannot really run.

Almost.

Halloween is my favorite holiday, so naturally, I love a Halloween themed run. Especially on a flat, beautiful course as part of an awesome fall series that includes the best shirts.

This year, we stepped up our group and costume game. We went as our own namesake: Zombie Turtles

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We had an entire pack. Or herd. I’m not entirely sure on turtle terminology. My daughter even dressed as a zombie belly dancer to participate, while her bestie was our sole survivor, Supergirl.

We really embraced the dead look.

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Under the stupid and unseasonable hot sun, we wogged along. We learned that fake blood liquifies again when you sweat. It may have dripped directly into my eye, fusing my eyelashes together. I think we all looked more gory and more dead at the end of the race.

But Michelle did AMAZING. Even in the heat, she ran great. In my injury, I have turned my attention to her training, and she is showing great progress. It is fun to focus on someone else. I also might be a touch of a sadist.

After the 5K, we took the kids on the kid race. For the first time, my daughter ran the whole distance without stopping. It was under a mile. There was some whining, a few tears, maybe even a little bargaining, but she did it! And I was so proud of her.

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This race was not really about running. It was more about being festive and having fun as a group, and I think we accomplished all that. We were never more zombie turtles than we were jogging with bloody shells on our backs.

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My injury continues to effectively hinder my running. I can wog slowly with little pain. In this race, for example, it felt pretty good aside from aggravating it traversing railroad tracks to get to the race. Honestly, I have not tried to run for real. I have found the injury to be transitory, variable. Since the pain migrated from hamstring to sciatic nerve, I have been broken. Mentally more than physically.

I thought I was getting close to recovery; I thought I was making progress. It was a touch crushing to go back to severe pain and limited mobility. I have been making slow gains again, but now I am gunshy. I also made some crucial realizations about myself and my tendancies, and I am trying to make better decisions.

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In either case, running is just not happening lately. I am still working out. A lot. I am rolling around on the torture ball, avoiding stretching, going to the chiropractor, letting my trainer adjust my form. Just plugging along basically. I continue to allow this injury to be my teacher.

I miss running–deep in my soul–especially as the fall weather flirts with this endless summer. Yet I am resolved to continue compromising with reality. I will get back to full running one day; for now, runs like this one are a great pacifier.

 

Christina Bergling

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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Still My Own Worst Enemy

This injury continues to humble me. That is how I am choosing to classify it so I don’t think about the trapped feeling in my body that makes a claustrophobic panic throb in my chest. I am forcing myself to consider it a continued teacher, making me confront my addictive nature, utter lack of patience, and criticality of myself.

To reestablish its dominance, the injury has migrated, climbing from the hamstring attachment at the base of my buttcheek up to my sciatic nerve. The blooming pain and lack of my mobility in my lower back transports me directly back to each horrible contraction when my son’s skull crushed that nerve during delivery. An injury I thought I had already recovered from.

The combination of all these injuries is teaching me there is no such thing as recovery. They are reminding me that there is no getting “there.” It is all one continuous journey, in which the contributions of the past are ever present. And it stupid to try and ignore them.

I am being punished for my lack of patience. I tried to loophole my way out of rest. If it’s not aggravating it, I can keep going. That doesn’t hurt worse, so it’s fine. Sure, I can start my double workout days again.

Addict.

Only I could find a way to overdose on being healthy; only someone like me could push self-care into self-harm.

It seems like such an easy thing, to take a break, to rest. It should certainly be easier than working so hard, cramming workouts in at every opportunity, pushing my body until it literally breaks. Yet my mind is so entrenched in the habit. I am so completely dependent on the routine. I don’t know how to not do it.

I think I had partially convinced myself that I was OK, that I was mentally recovered because my outlets had become “healthy.” The symptomology became masked by the positive classification. However, it turns out that the underlying behavior has not evolved at all. Instead, it has only become more clever at hiding in plain sight.

It felt good thinking I had finally channeled my damage into healthy outlets, that I had finally figured that part of myself out. The idea that it was all my disorder tricking and manipulating me is wholly undermining and disconcerting. It shakes something about what I thought I knew about myself. And maybe that is the point: to remind me and shock me back out of complacency.

In my mind, I have been concocting an illusory correlation for this injury, repeating it in my brain until it sound true. I keep thinking to myself that I encouraged it. Immediately prior to my injury, I was having self-harm ideation.

It was a strange experience. When I actively self-harmed, I would cut or burn myself impulsively. It was a spontaneous and desperate coping mechanism to escape or change the emotional pain I was feeling. Yet, these recent thoughts I found creeping in my brain were calm. I found myself thinking about hurting myself or having a wound fondly. However, I was not depressed. I was not suffering; I did not need it as an out. More, I wanted to injury for a sense of familiarity, almost from an anthropological perspective of wanting to see what it would be like and how I would respond again. It was some sort of deformed nostalgia.

It was never an impulse I was in danger of acting on. There was no panic, no desperation, no distorted thoughts. Even as these strange ideas were bobbed in my head, I had the sanity to know that if I actually had these injuries I seemed to suddenly be courting, I would immediately hate them and everything they involved. I knew better.

I brushed it off as simply old issues surfacing and resolving in my head. I acknowledged them and watched them spiral out of sight. I only really talked to one person about it, as the idea of explaining to people I wanted to be hurt without wanting to be hurt seemed daunting. Then I let it go.

Then, what seemed like the next day, I pulled my hamstring. It feels like I invited it. It feels like I deserved it for having those old strains writhing back in my brain. I feel like I did this to myself (beyond literally doing it to myself by overtraining).

Or this is just me turning on myself. Finding more of a way to punish myself for not working out to quota. As always.

I have been in pretty consistent and, at times, intense pain for almost a week now. I have been living in KT tape for 3 days, not to exercise but just to function at all. Pain always inevitably pushes me into depression. And I have been cycling harder in that direction, with awkward pockets of mania most likely stemming from the workouts I should not be doing.

Now, the injury feels more psychological than anything. The pain and the problem is clearly physical (and persistent), yet my experience of it has shifted up to my mind and emotions. After over two months, it seems like I am learning the same core life lesson I keep relearning a hundred ways. I have to let go and just go with it, accept things as they are and adapt. I keep surrendering to this epiphany in one context then forgetting it in the next. As if any life experience could be an island.

It needs to stick this time. I need to implant the idea in the center of my brain so my body can stop teaching me that I am her bitch. And I am so completely her bitch.

I need to shift perspective. Per usual. Out of my broken negativity. Instead of dwelling on the pain and what I SHOULD be doing and what my body SHOULD be able to do, I need to remember to appreciate what I do have. Any physical ability is always a gift, never guaranteed (just like happiness in the mind).

Even more specifically, I need to honor how far my body has come for me in the past two years. I would have killed to be here as I shambled around after having my son.

I need to stop trying to be thinner and faster and stronger and more whatever the hell attribute I fixate on at the moment and actually be what I am (just like trying to be sane when I’m beautifully crazy), actually accept and love what I am. It can be worse; it has been worse. Lament never changes circumstance, only squanders it.

I know all of these things! I know better. I made all these realizations about my mind years ago. When will I extend these lessons to my body? When will I stop being so hateful to the physical? I have not changed from the teenager who loathed her young and slender body only to look back years later with regret. I squandered my youth on this bullshit. I don’t want to waste more time in pointless obsession. The fixation never leads to satisfaction, only perpetual, unrelenting discontent.

With this constant lower back twinge, I would happily run back to just my hamstring balking. With my achy hamstring, I would have happily regressed to my slowest running pace. Yet when I am healthy and functional, I am never content. That is when I turn on myself the most. Rather than basking in my own functionality and relishing the activities I can participate in, I viciously scrutinize my performance and results.

I made peace with my mind long ago. Most of the time, I do truly accept what my brain is and what that means. Most of the time, I even love it the way I am. It appears I turned all that critique to my flesh, to an impossible moving target that has nothing to do with reality.

I should know this. The lesson here is already one of my life mantras, tattooed on my goddamn arm so I could never forget. What sense could it possible make to make an exception for my body? I have drawn the correlation between the two. I no longer have an ignorant excuse for being so ridiculously foolish and emotionally masochistic.

Now, I have to draw the line and step over to the other side. I should probably start by resting until my back stops sending its cries tearing up my nerves.

run

Christina Bergling

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