Since I am going to be out tonight, I thought that I would bring you another guest post by a very special lady, Jaya. She had the same injury that I have and she has helped me immensely with advice, comfort, and some very wise words throughout this entire process. And I hope that you enjoy what she has to share and maybe learn a little bit as well!
In the meantime, check out my girl’s blog Faith Food & Fitness for an amazing and heart felt post that I couldn’t agree more with, an amazing giveaway from my favorite Chocolate Covered friend, and also this awesome giveaway by the lovely Jessica at Healthy Exposures.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a re-cap of today. Until then, have a great weekend!
Traveling Without Moving
I certainly won’t be the first, last or best to say it, but when we think of ourselves as bodies who can do, rather than souls who born to be, we are limited to only the places and experiences that our vessels can facilitate. Sure, what I do is influence by who I am (and vice versa) but as someone wise for his age reminded me, “I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for.” I didn’t come by this lesson while out for a run, on the news or in a book. I came by this lesson when injury compelled me to seek some wisdom in my body, when all other sources of wisdom (traditional medicine, science, literature) just weren’t delivering for me.
Why don’t I back up a bit and tell you a bit about myself…
I’ve competed at various levels in my sport and for many years, identified myself and my worth under its guise. For about 15 years, I’ve trained judiciously in the gym, on the track, in the pool, on the turf – whatever it took to set new personal bests with each subsequent workout and season. But it was never as simple as coming and going; somewhere amidst all of my passion and enthusiasm for my sport was a need to overcome what I perceived to be deficiencies. I believed that I was required to work harder than everyone else, to feed myself with strictness and rigidity, to stay “on plan” in order to bridge that gap between me and (seemingly) everyone else. When metrics for fitness testing told me I was there, it made no difference. I just continued to push. I learned to turn myself into a dictator: mind dictating to body. It was a fear that I would stray or lose control (since I believed I was incapable of healthy balance and undeserving of reward and relaxation) that eventually replaced my lust for life and sport. Unfortunately, this type of mentality took hold of my life as a whole and these beliefs and practices (and my ironically unproductive perfectionism) turned on me. I left university in the middle of the semester, quit my coaching position and left my premier league team to move back home and get some help. I was so tied to the “doing” as a lifeline for my “being” that I just didn’t know how to be me outside what I did. After lots of valuable counseling and healing, I returned to my sport and my life resumed. I cautiously began to try and use my new tools and eventually found myself in a much better mind space. But then, something quite unexpected happened: being an athlete just wasn’t giving me what I needed anymore. Suddenly, I craved stillness, slowness. I craved long walks, swims, yoga and meditation in my living room, on a park bench or in my mind. Wouldn’t you know, the universe, in its infinite wisdom, agreed and decided to hand me an epic injury in the middle of the university season, just weeks before nationals. So there it was: the conclusion of my competitive sports career. Not as I had planned or hoped for, but it was what it was.
Like Jess, I discovered that I had a stress fracture in my pubic ramus – not a common injury in my sport, but in retrospect, having run a half marathon and regular shorter races during each of my “off” seasons, I decided that I had unknowingly made a real candidate of myself! Knowing the prognosis (2-4 months of complete rest) I droopily realized that I got exactly what I had hoped for: stillness and slowness. It didn’t come delivered in the romantic and dreamy way that I’d imagined, but there it was. The rest of the story can be easily summed up: I spent 2 months on crutches, one month weaning myself from them, and finally, another 3ish months just practicing the stillness that my body and the physician had prescribed. After showing little/no improvement at the 4 month mark, I took it upon myself to find some empowerment. It was just too easy to feel sorry for myself and to imagine all of the things I might be doing if I were healthier. I realized that everything I had achieved in school, sport, love and life had nothing to do with my body. As my very wise friend reminded me, injury simply cannot touch the very best of who we are. Remembering this, I felt the dictator s l o w l y pack its bags and suddenly the knowledge in my body took over. It told me when to eat, how much to move and when it needed rest. I found joy in the things I had (with varying degrees of willingness) sacrificed for sport: my marriage, slow mornings, leisurely cooking, and more time than I imagined possible to commit to my studies. With the 20 hours each week that I used to commit to training and sport, I suddenly had a part-time job worth of life to live!
I’d like to believe that this is part of the reason why my next appointment showed some progress. It was only when I began to see how liberated I became through this injury that I stopped struggling against it. As I’ve said in the past, when you stop resisting, you disempower the struggle. When you disempower the struggle, there can only be peace. Who could imagine that I would love my body most after 6 months of no exercise? This is what it took for me to appreciate the sophistication and wisdom of my body and its ability to steer me clear in the right direction, when I put it in the driver’s seat. I’ve never felt more at home in my body, and it came as a surprise to me that after years of being told to be harder, stronger and faster, I discovered the best of who I am in – you guessed it – stillness and slowness. People talk a lot about not taking movement for granted, but in a society so taken with constant motion, I’m aiming to move forward with my rehabilitation without ever forgetting what I gained from injury: learning to travel without moving.
Thanks so much to Jessica for sharing her experience, honesty and delicious meals with us and for this opportunity to share my own story.