I hurt my back a few weeks ago.  Actually I hurt my back three separate freaking times, all three caused by a certain baby whose name I won’t mention.  Said baby is 1) not getting any lighter and 2) hell-bent on diving off the changing table.  These back injuries are the worst most frustrating kind, because instead of just – ow! my back hurts! – I get nothing, until the next day when doing something innocuous like lifting a spoon from the dishwasher causes my back to go into spasm.  My back is like some nice lady who says “oh, no, I’m okay, I don’t mind” and then stabs me – yes – in the back.  Back!  Get some boundaries!  If I knew in the moment that you were straining, I’d go easier.

Except when the baby suddenly can crawl at the speed of light and is heading for the edge of the bed.

Anyway, I went to the doctor for drugs; I am not a fool.  But I also got a prescription for physical therapy, because I am not going to just put up with this, what with the baby who insists on growing bigger and heavier.  I don’t have a “bad back” – aside from its obvious passive/aggressive issues – I just need to be stronger.  So I went off to physical therapy and was assigned a therapist who has either done time or has a dishonorable discharge hidden away in his un-checked background.  At first I thought he would be great, because a little bit of …stern… is fine with me, and kind of motivating.

But as of yesterday, when I ran out of the physical therapy gym and paced the hall, sobbing, he is not fine with me.  I think he’s kind of a … dick, really.  In my several stints in physical therapy over the years, I have usually worked with shiny young PTs in their twenties who think of me as someone old-ish and fat, and they have treated me with kindness and low expectations.  But this therapist, we’ll call him Gunther, asked me to do the exercises I’ve been doing at home, and then peppered me with comments like “you’re weak in your core” “you should be able to hold that for 20 seconds” “why are you working out with a trainer when you’re weak in your core?  You’re wasting your time.”  Gunther is the kind of guy who makes sure to tell me that he’s been “doing this for 40 years” every time he sees me, and he seems to need me to progress at a certain rate so that he can be sure of himself and his “program.”

Here is where the depression makes everything complicated.  I go to the gym because it’s good for me, and I like it, and blah blah blah.  But I also go because I hate myself.  I could say, well, actually I hate my fat, and that is true, but the sad truth is that I also just hate ME, and I want to fix ME, and there is this obvious body with its flaws and injuries that presents me with plenty of things to fix.  So consequently I am somebody who always goes to the gym and always works really, really hard. I’ve been working out with a trainer since the baby was six weeks old, just to lift weights and do the things I hate to do, and even though I’m depressed and gaining weight every week, I have gotten a lot stronger and fitter.  She nags me to come to the gym and do the exercise things that I hate on the days that I’m not working with her, and I work harder because of her encouragement.

Then I often sit in my car and cry, because it’s so hard and I feel so exhausted and hopeless.  Then I go home and eat.

Sigh.  While Gunther is a dick, he had no idea that all of THAT was brewing when he unleashed his meanness.  And I am confused about how much of what happened – his, uh, motivational style vs. my emotional fragility – was depression-fueled.  I did push back, and told him he was in my face, and that if he overestimated me in the first session that was his problem, not mine.

I just hate not being sure of myself.  I can’t tell if I over-reacted.  I’m sure that he’s inappropriate, but I think bursting into tears – not just tears but the hiccuping deep sobs that you can’t stuff back down – was ? a bit much.  It doesn’t take a genius to note that this PT situation hits many nerves: older male authority figure, fitness / gym setting where I seek my redemption, physical pain, too many freaking MIRRORS do they have to have a MIRROR on every wall?

But, oy.  So much drama.  I feel like I carry around a bucket of deep sorrow and the slightest little jostle from anybody spills it all over the place.  I want to stay home so there isn’t so much spillage and mess, it’s less embarrassing.  But I’m not going to stay home.

And I’m going to stay with Gunther.  I don’t have much choice, he’s the only back / neck guy they have, and I’m a hostage to the daycare at this rehab center.  Besides, being able to hold the single leg bridge for 10 sets is the best way I know of to give Gunther the finger, so that’s what I’m going to do.

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