My husband took the above picture the other night in our backyard. His ability to see beauty, even in the midst of growing darkness, is an inspiration and source of strength for me.
Several months ago, I put in for a week of leave during spring break. My plans were to spend it with my husband who enjoyed spring break every year as a teacher. We would also be celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary. Plans to exercise together as well as to plant new dogwood and cherry trees, some flowers and flowering bushes were on the agenda too. Our anniversary tradition is to buy a tree and plants for the yard. I also had the ambitious plans of painting my living room, kitchen, sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom as the hideous colors from the previous owners had offended my eyes long enough; thus, the reason I took an entire week off from work.
But, I blew out my knee(s) exercising and simultaneously blew all my plans to smithereens.
WARNING: irrational, emotionally-minded thoughts coming full speed below:
I tried to be balanced and strong and rational. And most days, I did pretty well. However, after about 13 weeks of being in pain and barely mobile, I started getting tired – tired of the pain and tired of being tired and unable to do anything except whence when I moved. However, I am very stubborn and I wanted to make my husband a nice dinner. I thought if I iced my knee(s) for a long time and used a stool to sit on, I could whip up a quiche. But I guess, it all got the best of me. I wobbled around, I got the dish out of the oven to check it, but I was distracted with my pain as well as by the modifications of movement. As a result, I ended up burning both of my hands. This is all it took to break the dam of emotions I was doing by best to barricade behind an iron wall of willful self-preservation. I just started crying. My burns weren’t that bad. I was crying about EVERYTHING. I’d had it. I was done! If I couldn’t bake a simple quiche, how the heck was I going to go back to work next week and how the heck was I going to deal with my jacked up knee(s), let alone my other issue(s) re: my chronic skin pain from toxins?!!! And, how was I going to be able to help anyone else? Maybe I just needed to quit my job. And, maybe I needed to quit writing and trying to do something with writing. After all, wasn’t 20 + years long enough to have tried valiantly to encourage others and “do something” with writing? Maybe I was wasting my time; maybe I wrote to just encourage myself and others and I failed miserably at both! Yep, it seemed to me that I just needed to quit and go crawl under a rock….
GOOD NEWS: Rationality is back below:
It remains amazing to me the way the mind and heart deceives so quickly and much more readily looks towards the catastrophic rather than towards a place of courage and resolve - to the mountainous obstacle rather than the Creator of the mountain. When chronic pain continues without answers or relief, coupled by, “There’s nothing that can be done; this is the way it will be; we can only treat the symptoms; there is no cure,” statements from specialists, and then a new acute injury leaves you barely mobile and in increasingly more pain, anger and sadness flood the heart, making the Titanic seem like a mere flower petal in a shallow puddle soon to be blown away to a new destination, carried by the delightful current of a fresh spring breeze!
I asked that God give me hope because I did reach a place of hopelessness that was horrifying and ridiculous and I got so angry at God, myself, and life itself. But, I hate being so angry; it pisses me off – just kidding. Well, not really. More rationally stated, chronic pain, combined with chronic anger, is beyond exhausting. Besides, I’d worked way too hard over the last 20 + years to get to a place of balance in my life instead of stuck in a place of chronic anger; I wasn’t about to backslide now!
What’s the answer? Digging deep and finding the courage of conviction is the answer. Convictions of perseverance, steadfastness, overcoming, committing to self-care and the greater good of others, considering those whom I love dearly and remembering that I am not a believer in quitting on those I love, and that I must cultivate and nurture love for myself if I plan to be able to give it out to others. I must “put on my gas mask and seal it first before I help anyone else with theirs”, a comment I tell the Veterans I work with all the time. I also can’t stand being a hypocrite. I can’t tell my friends, family or patients to do things I am not doing for myself.
This morning, in particular, I am vary thankful for my husband who was brave enough to jump out planes to protect our country and who remains a courageous encourager of my heart. He is able to be content in any situation, and he sees light and beauty regardless of the presence of the struggles of doubt and darkness.
So, in close, I am choosing to find the courage upon which my convictions are built – or said another way, I am choosing to get up and stand firmly on the foundational convictions that propel me to find the courage I need moment by moment, day by day, week by week and month by month.
And, I will commit to completing the next publication of Share & Co., The Optimal Response Initiative, Military Version, which up until this point has been a casualty of the war within my mind and my circumstances. I’m going to be a little dramatic and say, I will hold up and carry the flag and yell, “Victory!”, knowing full well that anything worth fighting for requires just that – a fight – a fight to the death of futile willfulness and self-preservation. Rather, it requires the courage of conviction to believe beyond suffering, chronic pain, and feelings of self-doubt – to a faith in something beyond self….where limitlessness lives!