Changing Tires

I got a flat tire after dropping one of my brothers off at school this week. We had just finished our morning swim and I was looking forward to crawling back into bed before my class when the car started backing an ominous banging sound. I have had a flat tire before, so was fairly certain what it was when I pulled off of the busy street we were on and into a neighborhood. I crouched on the ground staring at my deflated tire, hoping I was just really, really tired and was seeing things. I was not.

The last time I got a flat tire I was on my way to work on the interstate.  My back tire blew a giant hole but I was lucky it wasn’t bad enough to make me crash and I was able to make it to work. My dad came with one of my younger brothers and fixed it for me, which did not help me now since I couldn’t figure out how to fix my current flat.

I called my dad, because what else are you supposed to do? He said he needed a little time but should be able to come help us. In the meantime Jake and I pulled out the spare, jack and the other tools that came in my handy flat kit and set them on the ground. I watched this really helpful YouTube video: https://youtu.be/joBmbh0AGSQ

This would have been great except my car is a little older so the part where the jack is supposed to rest, was rusted and I couldn’t find it. I was not about to guess and have the car fall on top of me, but I recommend the video!

Dad arrived after a short time and I told him I wanted to learn how to do it this time. Because god forbid I am ever alone on a dark creepy high way with no cell phone reception and my tire blows! When I put it that way, he couldn’t help but see the utility of me knowing how to change the tire.

I put the car in emergency break and Dad showed me how to use my body weight to loosen the bolts, by standing on the wrench and letting gravity do the hard part. After that I was on my hands and knees in wet grass, placing the jack in the correct spot (dad showed me), and turning the crank until it was all the way off the ground. Tires are deceptively heavy. I almost lost my balance and fell on my butt because I underestimated how heavy it was going to be. I put the spare on, making sure to tighten the bolts catty-corner to each other first, otherwise you might not have as tight of a wheel as you would like.

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Once the spare was on and the tools and tire were in my trunk, I did a little victory dance. I am now less helpless and more independent now that I know how to change my own flat. I was extremely impressed by how easy it was to lift my car, and even more impressed that I was the one who lifted it!

Achilles in Uptown Toes

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In my last post I talked about my fear of being touched that stems from being assaulted when I was a teen. But as weird as some people may think this is, that fear is twice as strong if the area being touched is my feet (I just cringed in my seat simply thinking about it). I can’t really explain why, but feet have always appeared so profoundly vulnerable to me (possibly due to the copious amount of Greek mythology I read as a kid, stupid Achilles). But whatever the reason, my feet were the first and last thing he touched and so are my biggest trigger.

This week I thought, what the hell. I already tortured myself with a massage, might as well violate the next boundary. Unlike last time, I was definitely not ready to have a guy touch my feet. So I found a place where it wouldn’t even be a possibility and bought a Groupon from there. I set up an appointment at  Uptown Toes for Jessica and I, because I didn’t think I could do this one alone.

We walked into one of the cutest shops I have ever seen. Black and pink permeated throughout the rooms in the form of sleek comfortable furniture and fluffy pillows.The bathrooms even had complimentary spray deodorant and body mists. And since I was curious, I tried one. This ended with me not realizing the bottle was faced the wrong way and getting more mist on the palm of my hands than anywhere else.

After washing as much mist off as I could, I followed Sarah (my nail technician) into the nail room and soaked my feet in the bowls of water they had set up for us. Even though Jessica was there with me, I was struggling with the idea of letting Sarah do my nails. After I picked my color and design (purple with black butterflies), I leaned back and hid the death grip I had on the pillows with a wobbly smile.

 

“How are you doing?” Sarah asked, as she rubbed the brown scrub on my feet (she explained what this was but because I was preoccupied with worrying, all I heard was chocolate something or other).

It took me a few moments before I could force out an “Alright,”

“Liar,” she chuckled and quickly finished up the scrub so I wouldn’t have to sit through her rubbing my feet any longer than necessary.

She put marshmallows between my toes (again, something to do with the chocolate theme that I missed) and began painting them a deep purple. The painting was easier to handle because she wasn’t really touching my feet too much. I was able to pry my fingers open and relax into the steady banter flying around the room.

“Okay, don’t put this near your phone or your glasses,” Sarah said, as she gave me a white buffer block to take home, after she finished my toes. Because I’m a bit of a smart ass, I immediately lifted the block up to my face so Jessica could see me break Sarah’s rules. It might have been slightly childish but the laughter that rang around the room helped ease the last bit of tension.

“You’re a weirdo, but my kind of weirdo,” Sarah laughed, as she put her supplies away.

While the experience had more of an affect on me than I would have liked, I am still really grateful for the women at Uptown Toes for making it a little easier. My feet are still a big trigger for me but at least now they look pretty cute ^_^

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The Third F

Almost everyone knows about the two instinctual F’s that come into play when you are frightened or your life is in danger. Fight and Flight. But not everyone knows about the third F. Freeze. For whatever reason, some people in those types of situations experience an overwhelming wave of helplessness and their brain decides it will be safer if they don’t move.

Why do I bring it up? Well, because that’s what happened to me when I was assaulted a few weeks before my eighteenth birthday. I just froze.

As you can probably imagine, this experience has really restricted what I am comfortable doing. One of those things it being touched. Especially by guys. But, after a couple years of figuring out how to avoid panic attacks, I think I’m ready to test this fear. I bought a Groupon for a massage at Palmer Massage Therapy  and scheduled an appointment with a guy named Gerardo.

I stayed curled up in my bed until the last possible second thinking maybe I could skip and they could just keep the money. But I had told too many people about it and their disgustingly, encouraging confidence in me kept needling at my peace of mind until I threw back the covers and got dressed.

The office space was simple and relaxing. We decided to focus only on my back and shoulders because they were giving me some trouble and I thought it would be a safe place to start. I was handed a form to fill out about health issues or allergies and at the bottom of this form was a check list of the muscles I was comfortable having massaged. One of those muscles was the pectoral. And while I do know what it is, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember while I was staring at that sheet.

“Uhh, I’m sorry, could you..could you tell me where this one is?” I asked Gerardo pointing to the list. He made a contemplative face, like he was trying to figure out the best way to tell me.

“It is the muscle under your collarbone,” he said.

“Under my collarbone..” I looked down and, well, definitely didn’t see a muscle there. I smiled awkwardly and said thanks before checking no, until the whole box was black.

I was left alone in the room to undress and get beneath the sheet. I was just contemplating leaving when he knocked at the door and came in. He asked me a few questions about myself as he prepared to start. I could hear him rubbing his hands together and almost bolted. Speech was not something I was doing well. I stuttered a lot and talked too softly, until eventually he just let me retreat into the war zone that was going on in my head.

Should I leave? Should I stay? Was I about to embarrass myself with a panic attack?

“Take a deep breath in…..now let it out. Now again…..let it out. Breathe…..let it out..,” Gerardo gently pressed his hands down on my shoulders with the last exhale. I cringed a little but reminded myself of three things.

  1. I asked him to do this.
  2. I wasn’t in any danger.
  3. I may be nervous but breathing is required damn it!

I was eventually distracted from my thoughts when Gerardo started rubbing up against a bone. I couldn’t for the life of me image why he was doing it but it hurt so bad I almost cried. He kept rubbing and rubbing and rubbing against it but then suddenly the bone disappeared….

Gerardo said it felt like I held all of my stress in my back and shoulders, which doesn’t surprise me since I mistook a knot of muscles for bones! When the massage came to a close I was insanely proud of myself. I was uncomfortable and stressed about the whole experience but I didn’t have a panic attack or freeze! My body was sore for a day after, but it was a good sore.

Back in the Pool

I swam competitively for five years as a child. I wasn’t the absolute BEST swimmer but I developed a killer backstroke and one year, I won the most outstanding swimmer award for my age group (I still have the trophy). But when I turned thirteen, I stopped swimming.

Between my mom going to work, feeling like my coach was being unfair by swimming me up (meaning instead of swimming against girls my age, I was swimming against girls 16 and older), and suddenly feeling uncomfortable in my own swim suit, I decided to stop.

And when I mean stop, I mean STOP. I didn’t touch water again for years and years and years (obviously I showered, I’m not that ridiculous). To the point where my mother forgot I knew HOW to swim.

In a way, I guess I did. Or at least I forgot how to love it. With everything but a few spandex covered areas on display, swimming is one of the few activities that require you to be basically naked. Personal body positivity is important but I think almost everyone feels vulnerable when they first start walking around in a bathing suit. And after so many years of hating the idea of going back putting on a swim suit again, is not something I have been looking forward to.

But this week, I have made a deal with my younger brothers. Phill wants to go out for the swim team and Jake wants to build up his breathing endurance (he has asthma). I’ll be teaching and helping them achieve their goals, while being held accountable to the gym plans with my promise to them.

I get to wake up at 5 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and at 6 a.m. on Saturdays, so I can pick up the boys and get to the South West YMCA by the time the pool opens.

We made the agreement on Sunday but I didn’t actually buy anything for it until the night before our first morning. I already had a swim suit from when I went down to visit my friend in Florida almost two years ago, but I bought a bottom for it, a towel, three sets of goggles (the boys didn’t go shopping before either), and breakfast for when I’ll be driving all of us to school.

I packed everything into my duffle and set out my suit before bed so I could slip everything on and run out the door. And after snoozing my alarm three times, I really appreciated my forethought.

When I went into gym locker room, it felt like nothing had changed. I used my favorite locker, padded across the tile flooring in my flip flops, and made it a whole two minutes before I seeing my first naked person of the season. I was going to be fine.

The strong smell of chlorine hit me first. Then the overly warm humidity I have come to associate with fungus and indoor pools. I waved back to the lifeguard in his office and adjusted the sides of my goggles until the boys came out, trying not to remind myself that I didn’t care if anyone saw me in my suit.

When the boys joined me, I jumped into the farthest lane from the lifeguard and let the water swallow me for breathless moments of solace. When I surfaced, we worked on correcting technique and slowly swam laps across the pool.

I was surprised by how nice it felt to be in the water again. As I languorously watched my arms reach above my head doing backstroke down the pool, felt a strange kind of sorrow come over me. I wish I hadn’t ever stopped swimming. I wish I could have remembered how much I love being in water sooner. But now I can make up for lost time.

Despite how the swim aggravates the pain in my chest, I am really looking forward to my next swim.