Saturday, April 6, 2013

On Healing

Last Tuesday I rolled my ankle at the Y.  It was spring break for my son, the week when parents are supposed to do all sorts of entertaining things with their school-aged kids to make them remember just what awesomely fabulous parents they have.  It was about ten minutes into class, and I was walking between exercises, when suddenly POP! out it went.

At first, I was confused.  Did it hurt?  No, I was fine.  Was I fine?  Not really.  Maybe if I just walk on it?  Or not.

My instructor commanded me to sit and put my leg up, instructed me not--under any circumstances--to take off my sneaker if I wanted to be able to drive home with it on, tossed me an ice pack and an ace bandage, and told me to sit tight.  I sat tight, watching my class go on without me.  I did some ab exercises, thinking that maybe I could get up in a few minutes.  I picked up weights and did some more shoulder and ab work.  And I started to feel the pain creeping into my ankle.

I felt completely defeated.  This was my out.  My healthy place.  One of the things I was doing right.  How could I have done this?  Walking.  Stupid.  I finally got up, and said I guessed I would just go home.

My instructor hung her microphone on another member's head and came with me; I picked up my kids from Child Watch, and we filed an incident report.  It was the last thing I wanted to do, to become an "incident."  I bawled in the car on the way home, telling my kids, with whom I'd already lost my temper that morning, that I'd ruined spring break, that I was sorry, that I was such a terrible parent.  N. offered to sing to me and make me feel better.  I. crossed his arms and seemed nonplussed, though also marginally concerned that his mother might be losing her mind.

I hobbled around and made lunch, and that afternoon took my kids on an exciting field trip to the orthopedist, where they confirmed that my ankle wasn't broken, just sprained.  And gave me an air cast, telling me to stay off it.  I may have laughed.  "Are you on crack?" I said, gesturing at my two children, who were behaving like angels, given the circumstances.  One of them was happily wielding a rubber glove that had been turned into a chicken balloon, and the other had collected two lollipops and a handful of stickers.

I may have gone running in the air cast on Saturday.  By Monday, I had started to figure out how I needed to modify exercise; I knew I could go to kickboxing class, but that I would be turning jumps into squats and lunges.  On Tuesday, I lifted weights, trying to give myself a different physical challenge.  On Wednesday, I left my step class,  realizing that side-to-side movement of my ankle was causing me too much pain.

A week and a half after my sprain, I'm still hobbling around.  I am healing, but not healed.  People tell me I'll feel it for weeks, or even months.

Apparently, healing takes time.  And you have to pay attention to the wound, instead of ignoring it and hope that it will stop hurting.

I'm not so good with this idea.  I rarely go to the doctor or take prescription medication or even pain medication, and I expect to leap back into the fray pretty quickly after I've stumbled.  And when I'm not able to do so, I falter.  When I've found myself wounded in other ways, I've put the hurt aside, telling myself that it was over.  That I was done: done grieving, done being angry, done with pain.  That I was fine.

Except that I wasn't.

After multiple pregnancy losses, after walking away from a job where I felt harassed and belittled (and seeing other people--not my former boss--be held accountable for that kind of harassment), after surviving a childhood with less than ideal parents, after surviving assault, I think I'm finally beginning to redefine what it means to be strong.  Being strong doesn't mean getting up and walking on the sprained ankle.  It doesn't mean, necessarily, holding it together when everything around you is falling apart.  Being strong means allowing myself to feel the pain, and realizing when it's too much to handle alone, when I need to modify my workout, when I need to be vulnerable.  Because that kind of strength, I think, creates healing.

How do you approach the process of healing?  And how do you define strength?
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  1. Every once in a while you write something that appears to be directed right at me. Thank you for writing this when I needed to read it. And I hope your ankle feels better really, really fast. Jennie

  2. Oh, J, I am so sorry. I have an irrational fear of getting injured in a way that would keep me off my mat for a time. And, of course, this means I must somehow release this fear or I am likely to manifest it!

    Because with my fear as well as your fineness, undealt-with things have a way of catching up to us. Sometimes the only way out is through.

    Abiding with you as you deal and release. I'm here if you need more than simple abiding.

  3. Justine, I was sad to hear from R that you got hurt, but pleased to hear from you today that you are stating to feel better.

    I think strong is keeping your heart open even in the face of great trials. Maybe there is a physical element to strength... sometimes... but I've seen terribly strong people who can barely lift their hand our of bed in greeting. They were strong because they found some way to remain human in the face of such calamity. They did not allow that calamity to be the only definition of themselves.

    I think the trials of one's past and present contribute in an important way to who you are (in fact I think I am more interesting, beautful and wise for my own trials: a MIA parent, a long-term stalker and several instances of assault-all of which caused me to ask more questions, think more deeply and come up with better answers).

    However, I don't think those trials have to automtically, fully define you. It is your choice rather you let them be a mere cautionary tale, a guide post that influences your path, or a northern star by which you navigate. And any of these choices are fine as long as you make them consciously and with openess to the possibilities.

    BTW, I know you to be very, very strong. You remain a very open person in the most important ways. Case in point: you are not afraid to ask tough questions as you have in this very blog.

  4. Ugh. This sounds all to familiar and painful... emotionally and physically. I hope it heals up soon. Until then, take lots of baths and get showered in kids songs. xo

  5. I'm so sorry. I got hurt last fall in a way that took me out of the gym altogether (back injury with leg implications), and it has definitely been a struggle to find my happy place. Like you, I'm pretty proud that I have found ways to deal with it, rather than just letting it deal with me. Good for you for getting there so much sooner!

  6. I am sorry a bout your ankle but your wisdom on healing is sage. Healing does take time and does not mean ignoring or going on anyway despite the pain. It's a process. I was thinking about this today, as I'm on the verge of making a few huge life decisions that will help me heal from my divorce. Because I am not ignoring that fact that even though I was ready for my marriage to end, the healing is still necessary. I hope your ankle is healing, by the way!


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