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  • Writer's pictureHeatherCelestePhD

Resistance and Enjoyment

I was walking the dog this morning and enjoying myself, which was shocking. I’ve been having a really hard time getting myself to take the dog for her walks. I was spoiled for several weeks with my son here and him taking her out, and then of course this last year of illness has got me re-negotiating movement in a differently reacting body. Before two surgeries and chemotherapy if I continued to move when my body didn’t feel like it wanted to, it worked out okay, I’d feel better for having “pushed through.” Not the case now, if I over do it now I pay for it with fatigue and pain.

But that’s not what I wanted to focus on for this musing, I wanted to explore that point where I was walking the dog and enjoying myself. I was fascinated with the feeling because the feelings of resistance to walking have been so big lately. What came to me in that moment of enjoying walking outside was how absolute the feelings of not wanting to walk were. I literally could not even imagine enjoying walking when I am caught up in my resistance to it. I get a dropping, gripping feeling in my lower stomach, the skin on my arms feels like ants with little claws are crawling all over it, my body feels heavy like even lifting an arm would be impossible, and my chest feels tight and heavy. When I’m having those feelings the very idea of walking, much less actually enjoying it, sounds horribly impossible, and can bring up feelings of anger towards anyone who dares suggest that walking is a good idea.

It was the absoluteness of those feelings that I was found myself reflecting on as I did enjoy a brief, not too early morning walk. This morning it was shear dog guilt that got me out, the slightest indication that a walk might happen and the dog is beside herself with excited joy. I’m sad to say it wasn’t that I caught her excitement, but rather the bad mother feelings of denying her that got me out the door. I wondered how I could make that transition smoother, how can ease down the throttle on the feelings of resistance?

What came to me was that I needed to really feel into the feelings of enjoyment I was having in that moment, so that they wouldn’t be so far away the next time the feelings of resistance came. I understand that I have to allow myself to feel negative feelings in order to continue to have access to positive ones, that shutting down negative feelings shuts down my ability to feel anything at all emotionally, but I am only recently starting to get a sense that my relationship to feeling good is quite complicated and uncomfortable, which is another post altogether.

As I walked, and had mused about all this, I consciously tried to imprint the feelings of enjoyment I was having into my psyche so that I might have at least a glimmer of access to them to recall the next time I needed to walk. I played with how it felt to walk with my head up looking forward, my default is to look at the ground. I played with how slow I had to walk and how exactly I needed to move my body to be in the least amount of pain. I opened my eyes a little wider and let the beauty of my surroundings soak in. I took some deep breaths enjoying the outside smells, felt the breeze on my skin, the warmth of the sun on my back, and really looked at the detail of colors around me. Interestingly, my very annoying tinnitus is less noticeable outside, that is a big relief. Most of all, there is a feeling of peace I get walking outside, that nothing else matters for at least a few minutes except letting the dog get all her sniffs in.

I walked half as far as my brain told me I “should” walk, the dog was happy enough to be done and that was good enough, but stopped a few steps before coming back in the house, closed my eyes and tried to really let the moments of enjoyment soak in. I tried to put the sensations and feelings into my memory banks with the hope that they’d be more accessible when the resistance comes up again, as it inevitably would, and an imagine of a bridge from the negative feelings to the positive came to my mind. The bridge image started right outside my door off the tiny front step, and I finished my walk with the feeling that if I could just get my shoes on and haul all those big feelings of resistance as far as the just outside the front door, I could hop on the bridge to those feelings of enjoying walking again. We’ll see if it helps!

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I love seeing this photo of your dog on that beautiful road, with that pretty blue sky with puffy white clouds, and imagining you right behind her feeling peaceful.

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