Turns out, my body has finally caught up with my spirit. Emotionally, I fell apart this summer and my poor back was literally right behind. In fact, I keep making the joke that the “derailment” was the straw that broke this camel’s back. At the beginning of August, I started having sciatic pain which, even after a round of steroids, persisted and continued to make my life miserable. Finally, a week and a half ago, I was forced to see a chiropractor and find out the discouraging news that the damage is far worse than I could have imagined. Though it came as no surprise really. After all, for decades, I have pushed through the pain, pushed through the pain, pushed through the pain. Eventually, under the weight of such stressful circumstances, my body became so inflamed that I broke. No more pushing. Only rest and intense chiropractic treatment for me. I am strictly forbidden to do a thing over the next week and a half. And we are 10 days into this ordeal.
Overall, this has been a fairly unpleasant experience. The losses are great. I’m having to sit out theater duties, I’ve resigned from teaching the second semester of my art class and will be teaching the rest of this semester from a seated position, our income and resources are quickly being drained due to the financial cost of daily adjustments and my husband’s having to be available to help out instead of working his extra job, and my quality of life is suffering. I certainly miss exercise but I’m in so much pain that I couldn’t do it even if I was allowed. So for now, it’s lots of sitting, lots of lying around, and lots of time on my hands.
However, I’d not be my authentic self if I ended this post here. It’s impossible to not see the staggering number of gifts which have come from this event. That’s what this post is about.
Being broken emotionally forced me to seek therapy. And not just any therapy but therapy with a person who is truly helping me. I am learning to slow down, allow myself to feel the stuff going on inside of me, and to just sit with things. There is no rush to keep “filling up” and I can just be for a while. Because I am enough, even without all of the million things that I do. Before too long, I’ll be able to just be cool with being me and existing, minus the pressure to perform and do. I’m looking forward to that time. For now, I’m noticing that I feel okay with taking a break from everything *else* while I recover. I remember feeling a similar relief five years ago when my oldest son had cancer and I had permission to not do anything but focus on him. I think that the upcoming year’s theme might be “Nothingness”.
This experience is showing me that, not only do I have a decent number of true friends but that it’s not that hard to figure out who your true friends are after all. I’m learning that, when you feel judged and ignored by a friend, it’s probably not a great relationship. When you feel like you are being used, you might reevaluate the friendship. When things feel very one-sided and you are having to try very hard… chances are, this isn’t a great relationship. Sure, I’ve “lost friends” over the past few months but I’m uncertain that what I’ve lost was of any value to begin with. Additionally, for every “friend” I have lost during this ordeal, I’ve seen three old and new friends show up in my life. People have visited me nearly every single day since I was told I couldn’t do anything. Old friends, new friends… they have been here for me. Bringing food, sending gift cards, doing my dishes and laundry… you name it. I’ve been covered up with help and support and love.
While I pushed through pain this fall, I was performing in a play. I had an amazing time, made two fantastic new friends, and thoroughly enjoyed being this character. It was a fabulous and important life experience but it also took me away from my children. There has been much snuggling and tv watching to catch up on. I’m playing video games with my youngest. I binge watched The Great British Baking Show with my daughter. Just simply being in the same room with them while a Minecraft session is happening has been so very nice. I missed them so much while I was preoccupied with a show, the derailment, and then another show. That’s a lot of months to be both physically and emotionally disconnected so I’m loving this time to just stop and be with those I hold most dear.
Feeling helpless is not something I enjoy. I’ve rarely felt entirely helpless and when I have, it’s been for a much shorter period of time. Not to mention, it didn’t involve intense pain and such dire consequences if I didn’t allow myself to, indeed, remain helpless. Accepting meals, gifts, and assistance from those willing to offer it has been a challenge at times. It’s humbling to watch your old college roommate cook your dinner or a busy homeschool mom sweep your floor. Worse even still is having to depend upon your children to deal with meals, laundry, dishes and everything else in between. I cannot even get the clothing out of my drawers or the socks from my laundry basket. They must help with everything. I suppose there is a lesson in here somewhere… an opportunity for them to pay forward the TLC I’ve given so freely for nearly 12 years or a chance for them to learn what the face of gratitude looks like. Above all, I’d imagine the most important lesson they are learning from my helplessness is that people are kind, they want to help, and what it looks like to be a decent person when someone you know is struggling. I imagine they will take the memories of this experience and be inspired by them when the time comes to lend a helping hand.
My heartfelt gratitude to each of you beautiful people who has stepped up to make our lives easier over this difficult period of time. Each day, I am growing stronger. I am forced to see the many blessings in my life and the wonderful work that is happening in my heart. Much healing is taking place, both in my spirit and in my body.