It was a bright sunny day as I pull up to the curb of a grassy park. The sky was bright blue with an occasional fluffy cloud leisurely drifting by. I feel the warmth of the sun beaming down on my face as I slowly get out of my car. I pull a yoga mat, with a pair of 8lb dumbbells of my trunk and then follow the sound of music being played in the distance.
I reach the entrance of the park when my feet hit the soft grass. Squinting, I look towards the basketball court in front of me. That’s when I spot my friends. I’ve been going to this boot camp class with the same people for the last couple of years, 4 times a week. We have shared pain, sweat, tears and laughs. When apathy became a problem and I lacked the motivation to stop binge-watching Netflix… while eating a healthy snack… oh alright… eating delectable sweet treats. I found a group of people who energized me.
After having Parkinson’s’ disease for almost 7 years, I am struggling with my balance and sometimes my Parkinson’s symptoms prevent me from doing the exercises that I used to be able to do… damn you burpees, why do you taunt me? But I have surrounded myself with people who lift me up and encourage me… my Wolfpack. They fill me with the positive energy, which keeps me emotionally and physically strong.
My fellow boot campers push me, challenge me, and cheer me on but also remain sensitive to my limitations. They hold me accountable and are excited to see me each morning as I arrive at the park. But not today…. something is different.
I approach the basketball court and put my belongings down on a bench. I begin to walk over to my friends, who are huddled together. I thought that maybe they were chitchatting about the latest episode of The Bachelor from the previous night, but then I hear a quiet, ‘Shhhhhh… she’s coming.”
The boot campers scatter. You could feel the awkwardness in the air as I see people pretending to look at their phones, while others are glancing at each other… one even attempted that uncomfortable fake cough sound. I say, “Hey guys, what’s up?” Nicki, my friend who runs the group replies, “ The class has agreed that maybe it was time that you found another group to workout with. Maybe one that can help you with your Parkinson’s… you know we’re just wanting to help you… this is really for you.”
What the? I was blacklisted. I knew that I can’t keep up with the group, but everyday regardless of my PD, I still try to do my best. I say, “I don’t want to go to another group. I’m happy here with your guys. I know I can’t do burpees, but really… it’s a stupid exercise anyway.” A couple of my friends retort with their own lame opinions, such as, I couldn’t jog as fast or far… or that I can’t run the stairs anymore…. or because that sometimes I slow them down. This observation has led them to believe for the benefit of the group and myself that I don’t return to boot camp class.
How could they do this to me? I just purchased a new pair of Lululemon yoga pants, that I could wait to make the ladies at boot camp jealous. They know I have a condition that I can’t control and I’m trying my best to live a somewhat normal life (whatever that means) with Parkinson’s disease. I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t do many of the exercises they do, but I do use modifications… but to be cast out? Now my sadness is turning to anger. How dare they? I grab my belongings, and then turn to say something hurtful, but all I get out is “why?” Then I wake up.
It was all a dream. I wake up to my alarm and get ready for boot camp, still a little shook up from the dream. I felt like I was voted off the island. But when I showed up to that grassy park that morning, I am greeted with nothing but love and encouragement from the boot campers.
I remember a conversation over coffee with my cousin Stephanie, who was learning another language. I ask, “When did you feel that you became fluent in Spanish?” She replied, “When I went to sleep and my dream was in Spanish”.
Up to this point, my dreams have been a Parkinson’s free zone… a place that I could go, without the restrictions of my body. But now I guess I am fluent in Parkinson’s disease. Yah for me! *Sarcastic tone* Sigmund Freud believed that dreams were windows into your unconscious. I guess this means deep down inside, there’s a fear of being rejected by those that I care for… that my Parkinson’s disease will alienate me from others.
I guess it’s time to call my therapist and tell him about my deep-seated fear that I have apparently smushed into a tiny ball, then shoved it down…. so far down that I didn’t have to deal with it…you know, the healthy way to manage emotional pain. Meanwhile, I will make all the boot campers jealous of my new yoga pants and continue killing class like a boss.