The Importance of Posture

My mom is in rehab right now after having knee surgery. She’s working on getting back to her old self. Over the years genetics, her weight, and probably general lack of physical activity wreaked havoc on her knees and now she’s ready for a change. She’s a young and newly retired woman without her two baby birds in the nest. She’s ready to fly!

I call her everyday because, well, I miss her and I hate being so far away from her at this time. Also, because she’s amazing, she’s still the one making me laugh even though she’s the one in the hospital. I know that she understands that I feel bad for not being at home so, like the mother she is, she is working to make her baby feel better. I mean, I just can’t wrap my brain around how much she loves me.

Unbeknowst to me, when you’re in rehabilitation, they also send a therapist around to chat with you about your experience. The woman who is guiding her through the exercises also seems to be having some pretty cathartic moments with my mother. The most recent one centered on posture.

My mom and my late grandmother walked a bit hunched over–they don’t stand up straight. My mom just figured she walked that way because grandma walked that way and I figured I’d end up walking that way because they walked that way. The therapist has been adamant about my mom standing up straight during their sessions. My mom, probably trying to get out of this part of the routine, informed the woman that she’s never been able to walk straight up and down. This wasn’t how she’d ever walked and her mother was the same way. The therapist told my mother that she’s wrong. She informed her that overtime, my mother has accepted being hunched over and because of this there were muscles in her back that were underdeveloped that led to continued hunching. However, this is reparable and will continue to be a part of my mother’s rehabilitation.

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My mom told me that she cried because she’d always wanted to be able to strut with her shoulders back and her head high like other women she’d seen around town and especially those in church with their high heels and big hats. She just never thought it was possible for her to do so. Having this therapist tell her that it is possible created a breakthrough for my mother and she was floored. It is hard to render my mother speechless and this revelation did the trick.

My mother often exaggerates my psychological abilities and thinks that I can counsel our entire family because I majored in Psych while in collge. She’s way too sure of my abilities. Of course, she asked me what I thought and I told her that the hunching might have been a way to hide when moving through the world. Perhaps this was picked up by my grandmother after being belittled as a child or treated poorly as a wife. My grandmother was also a domestic worker for years and perhaps this was a habit to “stay out of the way”. My mother who has always been a larger woman and darker skinned has often spoken about being picked on in school and not being the “favorite” of her siblings. Perhaps there were times when she just wanted to hide and she’s said just that to me on occassion. She’s always preached to me about being confident and always let me know that I’m beautiful. One of her fears was that I was going to be picked on in high school because of my weight and/or skin color. To her relief and delight, that didn’t happen in high school. In fact, I was captain of my cheerleading squad, Miss Freshman, and Homecoming Queen.

When I offered this amatuerish interpretation to her, she said, “You know you’re probably right.” Since I know my mother, that seemingly simple affirmation means that she’s going to keep pondering this analysis and when I finally get to see her in 10 days that we’ll have a discussion about this whole matter. She will probably also check my posture and introduce me to the woman who led her toward this breakthrough.

It is amazing to me the things we retain in our psyche and how that manifests itself into behavior. My mom never thought that she would ever walk with her head high and her back straight. She was envious of those that could do so. No one ever told her it was a possibility. She’s 57 years old.

It just makes me wonder what sort of figurative blocks I’ve set up in my mind. What have I told myself that I’ll never be able to do? What have I accepted as a part of me that doesn’t have to be?

I know one thing for sure, I’m working really hard today to sit up straight and to walk with my shoulders back and my head held high.

Later Y’all.

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