A little too loose.
That’s me. My mouth, my personality, my ligaments.
Out of all of them, it’s the loose ligaments that cause the most amount of pain, though sometimes the others do too.
Hypermobility is the technical term. Overly flexible, and not in a good way.
Sure, I can show up most of those lithe Lulu-lemoned motherfuckers in yoga class, can bend and fall in unnatural ways… but then I bend so much I fall apart.
I’ve always been a little this way, I think. The double-jointed shenanigans, the ways I could force my thumbs to touch my forearms. And most of all, the way I trotted along to the chiropractor fortnightly behind my father for us to be snapped back into place, made walkable again. The way he and I walk the same way in the early mornings before our backs have warmed up – his from a lifetime of horrific back injuries, mine from just being a little too floppy.
It got worse when I became pregnant. Those miraculous surging hormones that soften ligaments, widen hips and ready bodies for birth – they are perfect for most mothers and an overdose for us hypermobile peeps. They took my already loosey goosey ligaments, stretched them out in the wind and made them so flexible my bones began to dislocate.
I didn’t know that yet though. Didn’t know that there was a name for my body. Didn’t know that my body would be any different from my mother’s. All I knew was that I was in pain and couldn’t walk.
So I would call my mother and cry and tell her how much pain I was in. And bless her, she didn’t know. She thought I was being sensitive, too soft, the catch-cry of my childhood. She would tell me:
“You just need to walk more. Toughen up! You’re just too sensitive! You need to exercise! And you must eat very well! I let not one piece of rubbish pass through my mouth when I was pregnant! Occasionally I would treat myself and have just a little bit of homemade apple pie, but not very much and not very often! Your diet must be impeccable! And you must walk more! Go for a good long walk, that’s what will fix it!”
And I would nod, and do what she’d say. And I’d hobble along the paddocks, wondering when it would feel better, crying in pain as it worsened.
When I finally told my midwife how much pain I was in, and how walking hadn’t helped, she looked at me, mouth agape.
“Leonie, you are hypermobile. Your hips and pelvic bowl have dislocated from the pregnancy hormones. Walking is the very worst you can be doing right now. We need to try and stabilise it and get you to rest.”
She gave me a kind of thick, flexible band that wrapped my hips to stabilise them and lift the pressure out of my pelvic bowl. The relief was instantaneous.
That was when I learned that my mother’s advice wasn’t always going to be right for me as a mother. That my body was not hers. And in the coming years I would discover over and over just how much my body and brain differed and how much support it needed.
That I wasn’t soft, I wasn’t too sensitive.
I was in pain.