On Not Being Able to Speak Up

Something about me: I find it really, really difficult to speak up in certain situations. It gets to the point where I feel paralyzed; I know what I should say and when I should say it, but I just can’t. People who know me, like my husband, will urge me to simply not be afraid to speak up. But it isn’t about being afraid. I can’t explain exactly what force is preventing me from using words to convey my thought in certain situations. I just know that there is something clamping down on my mouth and I feel basically incapable of doing anything. I am paralyzed.

I’m writing about this now because I’ve been struggling with a recurrence of my neck injury. I got a massage last weekend, then an email from Coach Abby (who’s already proved how much I need her — more on her another time) saying ‘Whatever you do don’t get a massage until the pain goes away. Only e-stim and acupuncture is totally fine. But no massage.”

CRAP. Not only was I too late to heed her advice, but my pain did get significantly worse following the massage, which I didn’t connect until her email. So I committed to healing. I started using my e-stim machine every day. In fact, I’m using it right now as I type this.

Dori's e-stim

E-stimming at work

Committed to recovery,  I rested; no Refine, no running. I made an appointment for acupuncture and when the day of my appointment arrived — this past Sunday — I was already feeling so much better. No pain at all, just a feeling of the right side of my neck and shoulder being different, slightly heavier and stiffer. But the pain was gone and I felt certain I’d be running in a few days time.

So on Sunday as I lay on the acupuncture table, I showed the doctor where my pain was and told her I’m already doing much better than I was. She put the needles in, turned on a machine that I think was also e-stim but it felt more like poking (in a good way – got right to the muscle), and pointed that amazing heat lamp on me.

I felt really good. I didn’t feel pain, I enjoyed the poking sensation into my crazy tight muscle, and I knew that the acupuncture would only push me further towards recovery.

When timer went off and the doctor came back into the room, she took the needles out and started pressing into my muscles. Hard. Starting from the origin of pain (between my neck and shoulder) and up into the side of my neck. It hurt. A LOT. In a way that I knew was wrong.

And I let it happen.

The whole thing lasted no more than 60 seconds, but I knew I should have said something. I knew I should have stopped her. I knew she was taking something that was pretty much better and making it much, much worse. It hurt too much for what it was. I’d been to her for acupuncture before, the last time I had this injury, and the massage felt nice then. It didn’t feel like torture.

But this time it did. Why didn’t I stop her right away? Why didn’t I say “no massage?” Part of the reason was a slight language barrier, but that’s a poor excuse. While Chinese is obviously her first language, she does speak English just fine. Was I worried about offending her? About insinuating I knew more than she does?

Honestly, I can’t answer that. I really don’t know why I didn’t speak up, especially since I knew she might have been setting me back in my recovery.  All I can say is that it didn’t even feel like a choice. It wasn’t like “should I say something?” Rather, it was like, “I should say something I should say something I should say something speak speak use words make sounds” — but I was immobile. I couldn’t.

And the thing is — this happens all the time. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. I can’t just say what I want when I want. Whatever held me back on Sunday — and believe me, it felt 100% out of my control even though I know it isn’t — holds me back in countless situations.

The difference is that most other situations aren’t going to physically harm me. This one did. But I felt paralyzed. I wanted to talk and I couldn’t. Is it just my personality? Or is it an emotional problem? Am I scared? Am I just shy?

It is beyond frustrating and the worst part of this particular situation is it did cause damage. I could tell that day, but it wasn’t until Monday morning when I woke up in a whole lot of pain with the heavy head feeling back that I knew I was starting over with my recovery. The run I knew I’d be able to do this week won’t happen. The Refine class I figured I’d try next week probably won’t either. I’m going to Florida on Friday and have been looking forward so much to running in a tank top and shorts there. On Sunday morning I was certain I’d be able to run in Florida. Now, I have no idea. My neck does feel much better today than it did yesterday, so I guess TWT (time will tell).

It’s not even about a need to exercise. I don’t mind taking time off to rest and recover; I usually enjoy it. What this is about is the time crunch I feel. The pressure. I want so much to train hard and run a strong race and I feel like my window is shrinking. I want to train correctly and without injury. I just want a few months to give this my all.

I’m running a marathon on July 27. I need to start building my base. I don’t have time to fuck around and keep re-injuring the same fucking body part. (On that note, I am going to a highly recommended physical therapist tomorrow so hopefully I can find out why this keeps happening).

I also need to continue taking Refine so I can be strong so I don’t re-injure my knee while running.  Plus, running and Refine are my outlets for stress. I love these activities. I want to do them all the time. They help me cope with everything else going on in my life. They keep me grounded and sane.

I feel like in my inability to speak up, I did this to myself. I wanted to recover, I was smart about recovering and then right when I was on the verge of being better, I did this thing and ruined it.

But is it my fault if I feel paralyzed? Can I  force myself to escape that immobility and say the things I need to say?

I get that injuries happen and you never know and it sucks and all that. I know it and I accept it. But what I can’t accept is that I did everything “right” — rest, e-stim, acupuncture —  and then my own inability to speak up erased ALL THE GOOD in a matter of 60 seconds. I did this.

And that is what I can’t accept.

4 comments on On Not Being Able to Speak Up

  1. Emily
    February 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm (4 years ago)

    I seriously have the same problem about not speaking up. I’m so sorry that you’re hurting again. I hope you heal quick and get back to running soon!
    Emily´s last blog post ..A whole lot of updates.

  2. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat
    February 18, 2014 at 4:05 pm (4 years ago)

    So sorry you are dealing with this still, I hope you are able to find permanent relief, I cannot even imagine your frustration.
    I am the same way. The little things, the big things, some times I am just incapable of finding my voice and it is really frustrating. And half the time when I speak up I start with “I’m sorry but…” instead of just saying what needs to be said, there is never a reason to be sorry but I have a hard time not prefacing with that.
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat´s last blog post ..2014: Spring Goals

  3. Katherine
    February 18, 2014 at 8:48 pm (4 years ago)

    Your post made me think about it and what’s funny is for me I have problems speaking up in situations where I’m paying someone for a service, such as during a massage, with a doctor/PT, getting my hair cut (eeekkk this one ended in tears); but in social situations and at work I have no problem speaking my mind, almost to the point where I don’t think before I speak sometimes…

    I can’t really explain the “why,” besides I feel nervous and I think part of it is that don’t want to in any way insult someone who is doing something for me and helping me.

    Next time try “negotiating” with to yourself – “what will happen if I DO speak up?” I think you’ll find that there’s more harm in staying silent.

    …and don’t worry about it, you’ll get back there quick and maybe this incident will help you to speak up next time!

  4. GB
    February 19, 2014 at 9:14 am (4 years ago)

    Loved reading this, well not the you being hurt part but the topic. Your voice is your sword. Never be afraid to use it!


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