The prompt: What word did you choose as your travelling companion in 2013? How is it working for you? Where have the surprises been? If you didn’t choose a guiding word, what word sums up your year so far? And why?
I didn't so much choose the word as it chose me. Really, given the surgery I had at the end of December and the painful walking that I experienced most of last year, clearly the word for 2013 had to be 'Recovery.'
I expected it to be primarily about my physical recovery. I'd had a triple arthrodesis -- a fusing of the three primary joints in my ankle -- and from all the research I'd done, I knew recovery could take up to a year. My energy teacher, Jessie, told me it would take four to six months. My focus was to follow doctor's orders, healing energy work, and doing all I could do.
By Feb. 20, slightly less than eight weeks post surgery, I was in a walking boot. Less than two weeks later, the doc told me I could transition into a shoe whenever I was ready, and I began physical therapy a week later, clinging to my walker. Physical therapy was wonderful: the therapists helped me rebuild strength, I continued to focus healing energy into that leg and throughout my body, and in no time I had graduated to walking with a cane and in my wonderful Alegria shoes. By the last PT appointment at about 18 weeks post surgery, I used the cane only on unsteady ground or to help keep some distance between me and others in crowded places. Today I go pretty much anywhere, although if I'm walking on a trail or land, I want a walking stick. While there is still some numbness in my toes and along the outer edge of my foot, I walk better than I have in a long time. My energy is good. My attitude is positive.
What surprised me is that the level of recovery went so very much deeper. Enforced rest and non-weight-bearing gave me time to think and reflect on what I'd been doing, what made me happy, what made me feel anxious and tense. I didn't do things I'd previously taken on through my admittedly overdeveloped sense of commitment because I couldn't do them physically, and for those things I could not back out of, I found other ways to handle them, unexpectedly freeing me from a lot of that false responsibility for someone else's actions/choices that I'd assumed. Nope, I can't pick you up from the hospital. Nope, I can't bring you a check today. No, I am no longer able to serve in that position. Nope, nope, NO.
Somewhere in all that time, I decided that I am not going to do things that I don't feel passionate about. I am not going to spend my time with people I don't enjoy being with, or who make me feel less than. I am going to take care of me first, not second or last. I will do more of what makes me happy. If I feel tense or angry or taken advantage of, I'm out. My focus is on saving the only life, living the only life that I can -- mine.
What a gift, this recovery! Those choices have not closed me off, they have opened me up to possibilities, to fully enjoying and participating and caring, and to new ways of being, more fulfilling, to a more generous life. I no longer feel anxious and angry and tense (well, hardly ever), and I know how to work with those feelings when they do surface.
I'm not recovered. I am recovering, just like an alcoholic who stops drinking but knows s/he is only one drink away from relapse. It is a process that requires daily attention and intention, this living joyfully stuff. If I don't work with my body and my foot, I will relapse into laziness and pain. If I don't work with my mind, I will relapse into old, long-practiced behaviors.
I like where I am too much to stop working on this recovery thing.