Psychologists usually give good advice. When mine tells me ‘the physiotherapy appointment likely won’t achieve anything, but it will feel good to get out of the house, to get some feedback from someone you know and trust’, he’s nothing short of bang on right. Getting out of the house feels as good as hiking a long and beautiful trail. It’s liberating to shuffle around on crutches on the sidewalks of ice, gingerly stepping and taking my time everywhere so as not to slip or fall.
Another thing the psychologist said is ‘If you can find a little improvement in each day, you’ll be okay. This has not yet happened, but it will’. Today is the day of ‘a little bit better’ and I am overjoyed. Instead of waking with tears, this day-after-getting-out-of -the-house-day, I wake with hope. I remember the definition of HOPE a young Canadian once gave me: HOLD ON PAIN ENDS. Today is the day the pain begins to end. A little bit less pain is a little bit better day. Yee-hah.
A ‘little bit better’ day.
Instead of feeding the internet addiction I’ve developed sitting in pain, I decide to open a nice little book by Thich Nhat Hanh, our favourite Vietnamese Buddhist Monk. I see a passage I’ve read many a time but this time it really speaks to me:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Well bring on the wonderful moments, Thich. I am ready to sit and dwell all day long. After sitting, enjoying coffee, not distracting myself with other peoples things on the internet, I feel a little bit more connected to this broken self. I feel stimulated to write more than the pain and wound and surgery update in my little journal book dubbed ‘The Surgery Files’. I sit with myself a little longer and connect to the emotions inside. I decide some words make sense in describing these inner conversations and begin to write:
There are many moments in life that seemingly set you back
but are merely a ‘test’ to see if you have the courage
to take a new path
a new direction
a new WAY
in which you know life has to shift towards.
The Great Unknown
that lies in waiting.
This injury puts me at the crossroads of decision.
All the ‘plans‘ for the Spring
are all but impossible now.
Revert back to the ‘normal’ way of being,
or find another new unknown?
These thoughts run through my psyche about the here, the now, the future. This whole thing of not being in control of what my body is or is not able to do is a tiny awakening to help me understand there are many, many paths in life. There are many ways to exist. To live. To thrive. I’ve experienced MANY of them already during the past 44 years. I’ve known for some time there is big change coming. Brewing. There is an knowing inside that I must shift directions drastically or risk the dreaded deep dark chasm of depression again. It’s come and gone in darkness and light and the warning signs I’ve had scream loud and clear that I must simplify and let life flow a little more naturally, live in a quieter way, let myself just simply BE instead of feeling forced on the regime of schedule and responsibility. Its up to me to make this shift and there is nothing like a little injury to awaken the courage to make the changes my gut is screaming at me to make.
So this ‘little bit better’ day has me feeling right strong and ready to make shit happen. Woke up and walked a ‘little bit better’ from bed. The knee a little more mobile, a little less swollen. I am so stoked I decide to sit down in the shower and help myself feel a ‘little bit more better’ today. I sit in the shower and bump up the notch of ‘better’ while thinking about sleeping with less toe pain. I think about the physio appointment, and how human contact is so important for us humans. How talking things out and then getting support, help, yes, ultra sound and other things too, but receiving words of encouragement from another human helped my spirit heal along with my legs.
I remember telling my physiotherapist Ryan how I wished I was still an athlete because then I would be more motivated to get better from the injury and the surgery. Somehow explaining that if I had sport to come back to, competition to come back to, I would be more stoked to get better. Like somehow hiking trails and riding bikes as a mere mortal doesn’t hold the same esteem as training for an Olympic race. His response? ‘Clara, I have a feeling that hiking, biking and running those trails are just as important to you. You’ll be motivated. You’ll be back.’ Which was exactly what I needed to hear.
And then I remember the guy on Main Street in Canmore suggesting I get some spikes for my crutches. He even tells me where the store is. He recently had hip surgery and said ‘you don’t want to fall. Whatever you do don’t fall on this ice.’ I see a woman across the street limping in a brace, son in tow. I have entered a new and vast community of people with knee, hip and ankle surgeries. So many people! All with different stories. I think about a person struggling with a mental health condition and how you cannot generally see these injuries. How alone one can feel. Isolated. When you walk around on crutches everyone asks how you are, offers support, concern. If only we were able to be this way with mental health concerns.
I end this ‘little bit better’ day with more Thich Nhat Hanh:
There is no need to struggle.
Enjoy every step you make.
Every step brings you closer to your true home.
To be continued…..