I started going to the chiropractor towards the end of last year. I have a messed up back and neck and it was time to give it a go. Full disclosure: I’m not totally convinced that this helps or hinders my life, but I went consistently for a full five or six months before I stopped. I have an irrational (or rational?) fear that my neck is going to be snapped and that I’m going to die. So far, so good, but you know… that’s a lot of power to put in someone’s hands.
At a conference a few months back, one of the speakers talked about how he was at a chiropractor getting his neck corrected and the ‘crack’ broke loose a large clot that was in his neck which caused him to have a series of strokes right there on the table. This did not improve my confidence in the method of care I had chosen in that season of my life.
I stopped going about two months ago because I became convinced that now that I had opened the flood gates of chiropractic work, I would always need it in order to feel normal. When I was corrected, admittedly, I felt relief. But the more I went, the more I needed to go. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that my skeleton is carrying around my whole body all the time- it’s going to continue to get messed up and there will always be need for upkeep, kind of like going to the dentist. But what I was experiencing in between weekly visits to the chiropractor was almost what you would call more fluidity in my spine and neck, which seemed to be causing MORE movement of things in the wrong directions. It was almost loosening everything up and that was causing a whole new set of problems.
Or maybe I was just getting old. I feel like I’m getting to the age where that is just going to start to be the reason for certain things in my life.
A few weeks ago, I woke up in a lot of pain. My neck was jacked- that’s all I can say. I couldn’t turn it very far to the left and when I palpated it on the right side, I could feel a bulge that would send shooting pain down the right side of my body when touched. Let me tell you what, it was not an easy decision to go back to the chiropractor because for one, I wasn’t sure if the chiropractor might actually be my problem and secondly, now that something was really out of place, could I be more easily killed?
Alas, after several days of pain, I decided that I had to go. During the visit it occurred to me that perhaps my pillow was the culprit. I spent $150 on my pillow. I’m a little bit embarrassed about that now, but this was years ago and I have loved every bit of that pillow! It was going to be completely heartbreaking to me if that pillow was my problem.
So I asked my chiropractor (whom, I should say, I actually really like and think is great- it’s not he who is the problem, but rather what he does) if my pillow could be the cause of my continued problems. If you’ve never been to the chiropractor, it’s important for me to add in here that it is a short but very physical appointment. The doctor will be putting his or her body on your body, and sometimes it’s in very awkward and forceful ways. So we’re having this conversation about my pillow while he’s sitting big spoon, and me little spoon, both of us facing forward while he’s reaching around my upper body to lift me up and backwards onto him… do you have a visual?
He asked me why I suspected my pillow could be giving me a problem and my response was…
“I think I’m just sleeping with too much cock in my neck.”
That’s exactly what I said.
In fairness, I meant to say something like ‘too much of a kink’ or ‘at too much of an angle,’ but what I said is ‘too much cock.’
I immediately realized what I had said but thought I would just leave it there to see if he’d leave it or pick it up. Remember, he’s got me in a full back to front bear hug and he’s lifted me up and backwards onto his body. I know that the pause in conversation that has now occurred is likely due to the fact that the position we’re in has caused him to be holding his breath, and not necessarily due to my comment, but as he leaned me forward and set me back on the bench under us he said…
“I’m sorry… what did you just say?”
“I meant to say too much of a…” but before I could finish, he was laughing dang near hysterically. And then I was.
“I don’t think that’s a problem with your pillow, but I’m willing to call Thomas if you’d like me to,” he said, still laughing. This is the kind of guy he is, and this is my sense of humor too so I appreciated it. I mean… who says that to their doctor???
I tell you all this to say that sometimes the problems in our lives are caused by the very things we think are there to help us! I bought that pillow because I had been having so much trouble sleeping. The first time I laid on it, while we were buying our mattress years ago, I knew I would be buying it regardless of the price. It felt like a magical cloud. And I can honestly say that every single night I slept on it, including all the nights I took it on the road with us in our camper, I felt like it was just as magical as the first time. It had never occurred to me, until that day in the chiropractor’s office, that the thing I loved and had thought was there to improve my life was the very thing that was hurting me.
Maybe for you this is showing up in the way of a defense mechanism you’ve put in place to help prevent you from becoming a victim. Maybe you respond to certain situations in specific ways to protect yourself, but now they’re actually causing more harm than good. Maybe your pride causes you to quit before you can fail, when failure isn’t really what you’re headed towards at all.
I’m an extroverted introvert. This means that I can be really great in groups and in social situations- particularly those in which I am confident in what I’m doing or know the people well- but it also means that my preference is to be at home. I don’t know if you’ve picked up this about me, but I live on an 84 acre farm. It’s easy for me to be alone and isolated… for long periods of time.
At some point in my anxiety journey, I started to isolate so that I could relax and regroup. I started to retreat back to my safe spaces so that I could calm down and unplug. This was super helpful for me, and absolutely still serves me in most situations. I don’t think it’s a bad coping mechanism for me- there are certainly worse ways to manage stress and anxiety- but sometimes I can isolate too much for too long. Sometimes the very thing that I put in place to help me, can be the very thing that starts to hurt my relationships and my ability to connect with people. Even things meant for good can be taken to extreme… like a pillow that’s just too firm.
I think it’s important to recognize these things in our lives. But here is the flip side: Life causes stress. Jobs cause stress. Businesses cause stress. Kids cause stress. Marriages cause stress. Churches cause stress. Just because something is causing you stress in your life doesn’t mean that that could be the thing that’s hurting you. Try to first recognize behaviors, not necessarily things, that you can change. We can’t just leave our kids on the side of the road when they become teenagers, but we can recognize when our desire to stay close and connected to them might be the very wedge that is driving us farther away. We can’t avoid pain and hurting. We can’t avoid change or obstacles. Just because God puts a challenge in front of us, doesn’t mean we’re meant to cut and run. We can’t avoid things that stress us out, but we can avoid using the tools and boundaries we mean for good in our lives in negative ways. I can’t leave my marriage, but I can work on healthy boundaries and communication. I can also over communicate. I read about a thing called ‘spiritual duct tape’ in a bible study once… this made me laugh because sometimes my desire to be in communication with my husband causes me to say things I need not say. Are you with me?
Sometimes the things we mean for good can start to hurt us. Evaluate those behaviors and see if there is a quick fix, or a tweak you can make to improve the outcome.
So I’m now sleeping on the flattest pillow ever, and I hate it. I hate the pillow, it’s so hilarious and unfamiliar every time I lay down to go to sleep, but y’all, I am no longer sleeping with too much cock in my neck. And I can tell the difference.