We often seek answers for the pain in our lives by taking pills, seeing therapists, and/or seeking out different specialists. What we really need to do is understand the language of our body, listen deeply, and take care of whatever our body is telling us. Here’s an example:
The other day, I was out for my morning jog/walk with my little dog, Lola. I always let her lead. I walk when she walks and I run when she runs. As we started to run, my left knee began to throb, as it does from time to time. I stopped. Lola looked back at me with her big eyes and a sort of what’s going on? look on her face.
I knew it was time. Time to listen to my left knee. I had avoided it long enough.
As I stopped and focused on the pain, a memory flashed through my mind. I was twelve-years-old and it was summer in Northern Minnesota. We were at our 100-year-old lake house, which was three stories tall, surrounded by pine trees, and situated on the edge of a beautiful green-blue lake. I remembered walking on the sandy driveway to our mailbox with a letter addressed from my mother to the parents of my babysitter, Marsha. I loved Marsha. She had lived with us the previous school year because her parents moved away and she wanted to finish her last two years of high school in her hometown. My parents had taken her in.
Marsha and I shared my pink bedroom and we even slept in the same full-sized bed. It was white with gold trim. I got to talk to Marsha every day and every night. She loved me and I loved her, in a sisterly, platonic way. I had never been happier in my life. I was in charge of taking care of my bipolar mother and my three younger siblings. Marsha helped me. I was so relieved to have someone to share that burden. Marsha had one year of high school left and I was so happy that she was coming back to live with us again after the summer.
My happiness was shattered one summer evening when my parents were arguing about Marsha. My mom didn’t want her to return and, even though my dad disagreed, my mom won that battle. I was distraught at the thought of Marsha not coming to live with us.
The next morning, my mom asked me to carry a letter to the mailbox. I looked down at the envelope and saw Marsha’s parents’ address. I looked up at my mom and she had a little smirk on her face. My heart sank; I knew this wasn’t good. On the way to the mailbox, I was in a quandary. Should I read the letter or not? I got to the big pine tree about halfway to the mailbox and sat down, leaning against its massive trunk. I decided to tear the letter open.
I read the words…Marsha is bad…Marsha eats too much…We can’t handle Marsha anymore. I cried out loud. My first ever break-up cry and I didn’t do the breaking up nor did my first love break up with me. After my big cry, I felt myself leaving my body and watching from above as I re-sealed the envelope the best I could, swallowed long and hard, pushed my emotions down, and walked the rest of the way to the mailbox, placing the letter inside.
Hold up! I was so loyal to my crazy mother that I betrayed Marsha?! I was powerless at twelve-years-old to do anything but be loyal to my mom, crazy or not. I snapped back to the here and now and was struggling to breathe. I was in a familiar feeling. I felt like I was suffocating. Trapped. Powerless to make the right choice for myself. Lola came running to my side as I felt the sadness of losing Marsha and many others after her. I was having a huge awakening.
Intellectually, I knew that each part of the legs represents a piece of our childhood past and our knees are the first emotional center of the body. They represent the pre-teen years. My twelve-year-old self began controlling emotions by hyperextending my left knee at the pine tree right before that walk to the mailbox. I’d been hyperextending my left knee ever since to stop feeling the emotions around abandoning myself.
F*CK. No wonder my left knee hurt and had been hurting for years. Now, I knew why.
On the tail of that knowing flashed all the other times I’d betrayed myself for another. Left my body and went forward doing and saying things that weren’t true for me. I had to stop. I had to feel the sadness of this first betrayal. In the midst of all this mind memory awakening chatter, I looked up and saw my little dog standing next to me, looking up at me with her loving eyes.
I laughed out loud and said, “Okay, Lola, it’s time to walk and stand without hyperextending and feel. I lurched forward on my softly bent knee, trying not to push my knee back. I focused on allowing the sadness to flow from the deep well of grief caused by letting people go that I loved because someone else didn’t like them or was jealous and wanted me all to themselves. Or they were bipolar like my mother and I focused on their care more than my needs. I felt the grief. I allowed it to come. I didn’t push it away. As I walked, my knee began to feel better.
If you have painful knees, you can start to release that pain by stopping when you feel the pain and deeply listening to your knees’ truth. Here is what your knees are telling you: Listen up!
I am tender.
I am the most underdeveloped joint in your body.
I represent your pre-teen years.
I am the space you first begin to shut down emotionally by pushing your knee joints back into hyperextension.
Your left knee holds the energy of your mother. She was meant to teach you to feel your emotions and allow them to flow.
Your right knee holds the energy of your father. He was meant to teach you how to handle yourself with others and in the outer world.
I give you knee pain, tension, and injuries to get your to attention so you’ll stop and listen to me.
If you listen to me, I’ll tell you what I need to heal.
You have the power to heal me.
Establish a knee awareness, opening and strengthening practice.
The power to heal all our physical challenges, lies in learning the language of the body, listening deeply and giving the body what it needs and wants. Begin today by listening to your knees and healing your knee challenges.
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