Forgive me, dear Reader, for the recent lapse in my blog writing. I have been busy getting my book published, (which it is) and getting it launched (which is happening this very month. Please visit www.amysandermontanez.com for more information on that) I just have not made the time to be faithful to this blog. I am starting, again, to write here on the psycho-spiritual issues that are near and dear to my heart.
My older brother, a talented physical therapist, recommended several years ago that I try wearing an orthotic insole in my athletic shoes. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, an orthotic insole is an insole that is specifically designed to fit your personal foot. The purpose is to hold your foot in an ideal position for proper distribution of your body weight, and to improve the alignment and bio-mechanics of your movement. Several years ago, after a foot injury, I didn’t take him up on the suggestion. This July, for no other reason that I thought it was a good time to do this, I did. When we were together at our beach reunion, he molded my foot with something that resembled paper mache’ and sent those molds off to a company that turned them into orthotics just for me.
When they came back to me in the mail, they came with directions. Only wear them for thirty minutes the first day, increasing your time every day until you can wear them all day. (I don’t wear athletic shoes all day ever but that’s another blog.) Obediently I wore them thirty minutes the first day. They felt weird. I could feel something solid against my arch. And I felt like my foot moved in ways that did not feel “normal” to me.
The second day, I took a three -mile walk in them. (Yes, I was a little overly enthusiastic. This is my pattern. I was trying to do sit-ups less than a week after I birthed my baby. Please don’t judge me.) Again, they felt very awkward. Not only could I feel my arch too much, but I noticed that my gait was different. I felt like I wasn’t walking smoothly. I felt my foot rolling and shifting in a new pattern and my stride seemed jerky to me. And the next day, wow did my hips ever feel stiff. I spent time stretching and rubbing all day and called my brother that night.
“Is this normal? Am I supposed to feel this awkward? Are my hips supposed to hurt like this?”
“Well, Amy, your foot is being realigned. You are being realigned, from the bottom up.”
Oh. That would be awkward. And unfamiliar. And uncomfortable. Yuck.
My temptation was to stop using them. To go back to my old insoles. To feel what is familiar again. I don’t like being uncomfortable. Not many people do.
Isn’t this the way it is anytime we are learning something new? If a golf pro or a tennis pro adjusts your grip, it feels awkward. It may not feel smooth right away. Your game might even be worse for awhile. The temptation is to return to the grip you are familiar with, even if you can’t improve your game with that grip. When you are learning the proper way to do an exercise, it feels awkward. Maybe hard. Maybe so hard you can’t even do the whole exercise. And the temptation is to return to the old pattern. The way that is most familiar.
When our dance coach corrects something my husband and I are doing, especially if it is our posture or dance hold, it always feels awkward. Really? I am suppose to stand like this, look this direction, put my foot where? This can’t be right. And yet, if we don’t make that correction, we cannot continue to improve. The next level of the dance is dependent on proper alignment. And by golly, I am almost always sore after making those corrections.
Can you make the leap to how relationships are realigned? When you are learning a new relational pattern, you will feel awkward. You don’t know how to talk like that, how to listen like that. Perhaps you are learning to not be defensive, or sarcastic, or dismissive. Maybe you are learning to speak up for yourself and to not run away when there is conflict. You are trying to show up and say what is truly going on with you in the moment. You may be learning how to speak hard truths, how to lovingly voice a complaint, or how to make a request. Perhaps you are learning to set personal boundaries. Maybe you are learning how to take responsibility for your actions and how to apologize. You may be trying a completely new way of parenting your teenager or toddler.
When our relationships are being realigned, we will feel awkward. Practicing the skills that we are learning may even feel artificial or mechanistic. Like toddlers, we will move awkwardly and then fall down. But with lots of practice getting up and trying again, it will become the natural way we do things. It will become smooth. Seamless. Reflexive. It will eventually just feel like who we are.
I am sticking with my orthotics. I trust that eventually they will feel just right. I can even imagine the day when I put on a pair of athletic shoes without them and think that something is wrong. My foot will be so use to the alignment of the orthotic that any thing else will feel awkward.
So here’s my encouragement to you. When you are making those difficult but important relational changes, whatever they are, stick with them. Push through the awkwardness. Know that the discomfort will eventually disappear and you will have an entirely new way of being in relationship with people. You, too, will be realigned.