It’s been three weeks since I’ve had my car accident. The bruises on my abdomen have faded into near oblivion, and the welts on my arms are completely gone. You wouldn’t know I was in an accident if you were to look at me*. The soreness is nearly gone as well, and I’m going to taiji classes again. These are all good things, obviously, but they are also part of the problem I’m having in dealing with the aftermath. You see, since I’m mostly back to pre-accident form, my brain has a hard time accepting that I recently suffered a serious impact. Let me explain. I’ve been getting back into doing my taiji routine every morning. About a week and a half ago, I did the whole thing including the weight set, thinking I was ready for it. I was not. I was wiped out, so I started paring back. Looking back, I was too optimistic because I felt basically the same as I had before the accident. “Hey, I’m not too sore. I’m not too achy. I’m about about eighty-percent. I can do everything I used to do!”
Well, I can, but then I pay the price afterwards. The good news is that I immediately recognized I couldn’t just do what I used to do, pretending the car accident never happened. I didn’t soldier on with my morning routine, gritting my teeth through the exhaustion. This is what I would have done before I started studying taiji. I have perfectionistic tendencies, believing that I either have to do something one-hundred percent or not at all. I’m getting better by telling myself that, hey, if you do seventy percent, that’s still better than doing nothing, but it’s not hard to chastise myself for not doing it all. It’s doubly frustrating because it’s the sword practice that wears me out. My favorite part of taiji, and I have to cut back on it. Normally, I have a metal sword I use, but I’ve had to switch to my crappy wooden one because the metal one is too heavy right now. It’s ironic because before the accident, I was looking into buying an even heavier metal sword because my current one was becoming too light. Also, before the accident, I was starting to do the (metal) sword with wrist weights. Can’t do that any longer, either. If I do my pared down routine in the morning before a class, I can only do one full Sword Form in class before getting tired. In a few of the classes I’ve been to since my accident, my teacher wanted us to do two full forms. The first time, I was wiped after one and sat out the second. The second time, I did half the second form. The third time, I did both all the way through, but was exhausted afterwards. In addition, I have picked up the sabre exactly twice since the accident. It’s wood and heavier than my sword. It felt as if I were waving around ten pounds, and it was arduous. By the time I finished (and I only know two-thirds of the form) it the second time I tried it, I knew I wasn’t doing that again any time soon.
I hate feeling weak and frail. Part of the reason I started taiji was to feel strong, and it’s discouraging that I’ve regressed. Even though I know it’s understandable given the circumstances, i still get frustrated when I have to scale down my morning routine because I just can’t do it all. In addition, I was cleaning the fridge with my mom a few nights ago, and it took roughly an hour. I’ve done it by myself in the past with little problem. In fact, I would sing as I did it, maybe do a little dance or two. And since I normally clean at midnight, I’d be topless because naked cleaning is the best. This time, though, by the time I was done, I was dizzy and wiped out for the rest of the day. I half-wish I had physical reminders of my accident,** because right now, it’s too easy to gaslight myself. “It’s not that bad.” “You don’t have any broken bones or even anything sprained.” “You should be able to do everything now since you got off so lightly.” Intellectually, I know that I experienced a physical trauma, but it’s hard to accept it emotionally. I will give myself credit for not pushing myself to the point of harm, let alone past it, but I’m beating up myself too much for not being able to do more.