Maybe everyone should break an ankle

I don’t even know if this is profound. Just some ramblings maybe. I had felt like these past three years had been a season directed towards something. I wasn’t sure what that something was. I’m still unsure what it is. I suppose we are constantly moving in a forward direction with some sort of objective but also not really knowing. Moment by moment, with every interaction, our plans can shift, our path can change. Sometimes we achieve our “end goal” only to realize that was a stop along the way. We desire more, we dream bigger, there’s never really a destination.

I kept believing that these past three years, where my husband and I continued to live a life of less and less, meant we would end up living like gypsies, in a tiny home, traveling the world. Maybe we would be long term campers, adventuring with only a tent and truck for our “home”. Was my future going to include mission trips and a minimal life in some third world country? Could we be moving to a tiny apartment in New York to pursue other business avenues? All these thoughts raced through my mind constantly. I’ve spent the past three years interpreting our situation and aligning it with different ideas I thought would be fun or make sense.

Here’s what I found: I was totally wrong. We just signed a lease on an apartment. We are not jet setting to Haiti. We turned down the New York offer. While we will always adventure, travel and camp, there’s no Airstream in our future (yet). All of these years of letting go, giving up, selling things, minimizing had accomplished two conscious things and I’m sure bunches of unconscious things that we will discover in the years to come.

The first thing that’s happened is I have become a less controlling, more laid back human. I don’t feel so emotionally attached to things or processes. My anxiety doesn’t increase thinking about things breaking or being ruined. The couch cushions don’t need to be perfect. My husband is allowed to load the dishwasher however he wants. The groceries can be put in the fridge in a hodge podge, disorganized way. My medical bill for $42k didn’t even freak me out. I have thus far, totally detached from my idea of what is valuable, what’s worth stressing over and what I should cherish.

The second, and even cooler thing to happen is that my husband and I have to furnish our new apartment. We have nothing but beds and clothes and our camping gear. We have to buy a couch, nightstands, kitchen items, trash cans and bathroom items. We have to decorate and coordinate things. We get to pick out a whole house full of items. All the things we sold or donated we need to replace. But this time, we get to do it together.

My husband and I didn’t live together before we were married and when we did say our vows, he moved into my house. It was totally furnished and everything was mine. We lived there for three years before we moved in with his grandma and then into our house sitting situation. I’m six years, we had never had a home together that was ours. We had never shopped for our things. Neither of us realized we had missed out on such a fun and intimate part of being married. We didn’t know the joy of picking out plates and dishes. We hadn’t shared in establishing our home and life together. It had always been my stuff or his stuff.

I think it’s interesting how we just transitioned into a life that made sense and didn’t see the lack in our decision. We never got to feel excited about sitting together on a couch that we handpicked. We didn’t know the happiness that came from discussing vacuum options. The investment that happens when you share in decisions. Its more than just buying things, it’s creating a foundation for a home to live in, to host people in, to feel proud of, to feel wrapped up and cozy in unity.

And all of this began when he broke his ankle three years ago…..

The power in words

Speak life. It’s a common phrase. There are tons of writers and speakers who discuss this topic. The whole “Law of Attraction” and other theories and books related. There are studies that show plants thriving when talked to daily. In biblical terms, there are an overwhelming amount of verses that reference the power in our words. Speaking life into others and conversely, speaking death over people.

Some people would say the whole subject is a joke. Admitting that there is strength in words but not maybe truly believing in how much depth. Some may say it’s all coincidence or serendipity. Christians believe it’s all part of being faithful to God and His goodness for their life. For most of my life, I had no stance on the topic. I never even gave it any thought.

My cognition became my words and my words became my truth. I believed I was a failure and so I often lacked the ability to succeed. I did not see goodness in my life so I manifested a lot of disappointment. My brain would repeat my liabilities and I would perform in a subpar manner. I would defeat myself before I even attempted things. I would quit in my heart and then my body would follow through with giving up.

A couple of years ago, I started to really evaluate my brain and mouth and heart. I dug into the connection between the three, how I could influence myself and in turn my life by just believing in goodness. If I approached every situation with a positive attitude, my outcomes would surely be better than the alternative. If I see the worth in myself and others, I would always be hopeful and extend grace. And even when things don’t go as planned, I could still smile because no situation is all bad.

When I broke my ankle a little under six weeks ago, I made sure to begin speaking my healing over my body. In the emergency room, the night I broke it, my son called me distraught. He kept saying he was sorry and sounding sad and scared. I told him, “it’s ok, it’s going to be ok.” My husband looked at me and said, “we need to turn in one of our cars, we can’t afford them both” and I told him, “we will be fine, we will not make fearful decisions.” These statements are not because I am something special or a better human than others. I’ve just seen my God show up and I’ve seen the power in being faithful and full of hope.

When friends texted me about my surgery and my down time, I made sure to say I believed I would be miraculously healed. I specifically said I believed I would be healed faster than anyone from this injury. I constantly spoke all the positive things that I saw in this time of rest and recovery. I did not allow myself to become trapped in the fear and sadness. I know nothing productive is birthed from that space.

Yes, I felt and thought fearful and sad things at times. I am human and cannot control emotions or thoughts. But I refused to operate from that perspective. So here I am, five weeks and five days post surgery. I have two plates and nine screws in my ankle. I have scoured the internet for blogs and groups related to this type of impairment. I have asked people with similar injuries. I have looked up plenty of websites about bone healing and recovery times. I am not saying I am the fastest healing person to exist. How could I definitively know that? What I am saying is that I am being restored in a miraculous manner. I have range of motion and function that I cannot find in another who went through what I’ve gone through. I have not been emotional broken from this. My family has not been bankrupt by this. We will walk away from this more steadfast, more courageous and full of peace.

I am not bored

Today marks four weeks since my ORIF (open reduction internal fixation) to repair the three breaks in my ankle. I am one week out of my cast and three weeks away from the possibility of driving again.

The other day my husband asked me if I was going crazy yet. This question, along with many other inquiries about my “suffering” have become pretty common. Everyone assumes that this season of physical brokenness, no working and depending on others is enough to drive a person mad. To be honest, I would’ve assumed the same thing prior to this experience. If you told me I would be out of work, unable to lift weights, have to rely on people to leave my house and ask for help with simple tasks, I would have freaked out. The thought of that used to make me feel helpless and scared. I too felt sorry for someone going through something like this.

When my son was born, I was essentially a single mom. While his dad was around physically (sometimes), he was very absent emotionally and financially. I lived in a state with no family and almost no friends. I learned very quickly that I was going to need to be self sufficient for myself and for my son. I became the dad and mom, the provider, the cuddler and the disciplinarian. I worked as many jobs as I had to while also attending college. I loved feeling like I was taking care of business, that I was handling things, that I was in charge, that I had everything under control. I decided that I could not trust anyone to take care of me. If I wanted something done, I needed to do it. Delegating tasks only added to my frustration as I would go after others and redo whatever it was I had requested they do. Basically I was an island with a “no trespassing” sign up and my son was the only visitor allowed to stop by.

Six years ago, I married the love of my life. A man I trust. A man I believe will never truly let me down. Obviously he disappoints me when he says he will do chores around the house and forgets but I am talking about the real deep stuff. I know he will be faithful to me, I see his care for me, his heart for me and my son. I’ve seen him cry over my tears. I’ve heard him pray for me. I’ve seen him invest time and energy into our family. Yet somehow, I still kept a slight wall up. I still believed that I was separate from him in many ways. I still found myself trying to be the sole caregiver. Trying to take over everything. Trying to be the strong alpha and also the soft omega.

Growing up, I had many reasons to harden my heart. I felt a lifetime of betrayals before I even became an adult. Because of my lack of belief in others, I grew into an adult who made decisions that only solidified my thought process. I found myself in relationships with self-centered people who lied to me. I was a selfish and deceitful person so this shouldn’t have been shocking. I felt like the world was indifferent to my suffering. I felt undeserving of care and grace.

So back to the original question, “am I going stir crazy yet?” and the answer is an abounding no. I am not bored. I am not even close to frustrated. I don’t even understand how I was functioning before. My schedule was overflowing with things before I broke my ankle. A typical day included an hour of Crossfit, two hours of roller derby practice, five or six hours of massage, some house cleaning and chores, maybe some errands and grocery shopping and sometimes (not every day), a shower.

In the past four week, I have spent hours writing, resting, spending time with my husband and family and friends. And not time doing activities but time spent talking, truly engaging, growing closer to the people I care about. I have had countless moments of true helplessness where I humbled myself and allowed others to care for me. I have found peace with the calm. I am not counting down the moments til I can fill my schedule back up. I am embracing this time of healing. This season of physical brokenness that revealed an internal fracturing of my spirit. I am watching my bones and body heal as I sense my heart also going along on this restoration journey.

I think it’s easy to focus our eyes on the end goal. To anticipate the moment when our suffering is over and we can resume our existence. But life didn’t stop when I broke my ankle. Vitality doesn’t stop in the suffering. Life is always happening and I don’t want to miss a single moment. I’m more alive now than I’ve ever been.

Wise investments

My whole life I have been a social person. I was one of those kids who was “friends” with everyone in school. I didn’t have one set squad as they call it now (I’m old and I don’t even remember what we called it back then). I also had non existent self esteem so I found myself quickly conforming to others behaviors and interest in order to fit in. I became a professional chameleon.

In my late teens and into my twenties, my identity was so lost in others that I had no personal dreams or goals. I was just doing whatever and I didn’t even know it. I had no idea who was using me, who I could trust, who I was using and who was a real friend. I am sure people tried to be true and genuine with me but I imagine I pushed them away or ran from them. Authenticity was terrifying.

In 2007, I became a licensed massage therapist. I loved being around people, sharing in their lives and being able to help them feel better. It quickly became apparent to me that I was more than a body worker. I found clients sharing their deepest hurts and fears with me. Asking me to help them pick out their engagement ring for their soon to be fiancĂ©. I got to know them and their families intimately. I became someone that a lot of them depended on for advice and counsel. I found myself spending time outside of appointments pouring into them, their interests, their dreams. I found myself caught up in hundreds of people’s lives.

For the longest time, I felt happy to do that. My life was way more comfortable belonging to others. I didn’t mind troubleshooting other peoples issues. If my brain was full of complicated scenarios and commitments, there was no time to be with myself. I didn’t have to unpack my life if I was busy diagnosing other relationships flaws. I found a sense of joy in investing in other people.

When I became a believer, I continued serving others and for a long time it was motivated by the same thought process: I am less than and insignificant so I will serve those around me. When asked about my own dreams, I still had none. I justified my continued behavior by telling myself how much of a servant Jesus was. I believed that I could live my whole life neglecting myself and pleasing others and in return, I would be a “good Christian”.

In 2015, I attended an event titled a Wisdom Conference. It was three days of teaching full of attitudes and lessons about being a wise human, about behaving from a place of knowing your value. On the second day, during my alone prayer time, I told God I needed him to have the speaker call out specific things for me. I asked for things that no one would know about me. I asked for a combination of things that was unique and deeply painful but that I knew needed healed. I knew I couldn’t shift my behavior without these beliefs being removed.

That evening, at the last session, the speaker started to close out with a call for members of the audience who sensed they needed some relief from embedded thoughts and actions. He began to call out one thing and then another, and then another and my breath stopped for a moment. He spoke all the things I had asked to be spoken. He called my brokenness out just as I had needed. I began to cry, (well bawl). The time that passed is unknown to me but it felt like an eternity and an instant simultaneously. And ok, if you don’t believe in God, that’s fine. I’m sure we’ve all heard voices in our head or sensed things that we’ve chalked up to intuition or our inner self. I will call this dialogue as coming from God because that’s who I think spoke to me. I clearly heard, “you don’t have to serve like you’ve been. You are free from that. You can serve from a place of true joy”.

In that moment, the things I had needed changed in my heart and brain immediately disappeared. I no longer needed to submit to others as if a slave. I would still put others before me in many ways but not because I had to, not to earn their love or friendship, but to show them Jesus. I would finally be able to give joyfully but still know my place in the world. I could see my value and it wasn’t increased by my deeds or decreased by my lack of giving. I was finally free to dream!

Fast forward to current day (cause what does all this have to do with anything)? The transition from bondage to freedom has been interesting. I have begun to protect myself from unsafe relationships, limit interactions with people who want to use me or be untrue to me. I will still be kind to them or do things for them, but I have learned to protect my heart and I haven’t since felt indebted to them. And as my work has now been removed from my life, my gym relationships have been hindered by my inability to workout and I have been at home, unable to really serve anyone, I find my vision even clearer.

Instead of chasing after things that make me feel less than, I choose to pursue things that have real world impact. I will replace empty conversations with authentic vulnerability. I will go out of my way for people who appreciate me and have gratitude even if they cannot reciprocate in action. I will put my family first, my husband above all, because what good are hundreds of friends if my marriage is suffering. And sometimes I will feel sad or hurt because relationships aren’t perfect but I will hold on tightly to that voice who affirmed me back at that conference and I will invest wisely.

Redemption

This past weekend was the home opener for Ohio Roller Derby. Had I not broken my ankle, it would’ve been my return to derby, my first bout back. I had no idea what I would feel like attending the game, watching everyone play and not being able to participate. I know when I played derby before, from 2007-2012, it would have made me crazy and angry and jealous to sit on the sidelines. I couldn’t even handle being on the bench and sitting out one play. Back then, I truly believed I was valuable in every moment and if others didn’t agree, then they were in the wrong and just didn’t know what was best.

Wow….. who was that person? So full of pride and ego. That attitude led me to leave my league full of unhappy feelings and with a trail of hurt teammates. I said a bunch of things that came from a place of control and contempt. I was so unaware of myself that I didn’t even see what I was doing. I believed I had good intentions but I saw years later what was really going on. Yes, I loved my team and league. Yes, I wanted us to be successful. But because my feelings were leading me and I was selfish, I know my words came out wrong.

When I rejoined Ohio Roller Derby this past year, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted back. I was worried that maybe I couldn’t be forgiven. I wasn’t sure what had been said after I left and I had no idea how much I had negatively impacted my team, my friends. I felt uneasy for a while, encountering people who had been with the league since I left. People who knew me back then. Wondering if they really were smiling inside about my return or if that was a facade and deep down they wanted me gone.

Here’s what I’ve found, and it’s beyond surprising: none of those things happened. No one treated me poorly. Everyone was kind. I was able to apologize to people and ask for forgiveness. I didn’t even know I needed that and you never know how remorse will be received.

Redemption is an interesting thing because often times you don’t know you need it until you have it. I didn’t consciously feel like I needed to redeem myself to the league but I quickly found myself yearning for that and realized that my return was less about skating and more about reconciliation. I love skating and I love derby but more than any of that, I am eternally grateful for the chance to make things right.

I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. I will probably mention that in a lot of my posts because it’s just so true. I used to be so selfish and wanted to promote myself above all others. I was quick to speak, careless with my words and self righteous when confronted. I couldn’t celebrate others successes because I was too busy critiquing them or feeling envious.

As I’ve processed this whole experience, breaking my ankle playing derby, missing the home opener, knowing I’m going to miss the whole season, I’ve found peace easily with the circumstances. I’m not as upset as I would’ve been in years past because this wasn’t even about me. This whole thing that I thought initially was me returning to a sport I adore was really about the new me being a part of a team, truly being happy for others and joyfully humbling myself. I am obviously sad to not skate but my unhappy feelings are quickly overtaken by the pride I felt watching my teammates play and by the joy I feel knowing that I will not be remembered for my harsh words or controlling nature.

The changing of the seasons

Have you ever thought it would be nice to just start over from the exact moment you are at right now? Take all the life experiences and knowledge you have now and start things fresh? Not redo your life, but be your current age and just erase all the “bad” things in your life and refresh? A new job, new friends, maybe keep some of the old friends, but just begin anew. At times I’ve thought it would be easier to just pack up and move, to run away from my life. Who I am now is so radically different than who I used to think I was. And sometimes, because that old me creeps in, I make old me decisions. Inevitably, I wish I could take them back.

When I tell people I’m an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs test, they’re shocked to hear that I’m introverted. Heck, when I took the test, it kinda surprised me. I suppose when you spend years and years partying and on drugs, it’s easy to seem to be or be outgoing. When you’re so detached from your true self, that you just get lost in your surroundings. Sure, I will be a hype girl on stage for a DJ, yes, I will take those pills even though I don’t know what they are, sure I will boldly talk to strangers and make friends everywhere I go, and yes, I will attend every social gathering and stay out all night day after day. Until I grew up, not just in age, but in maturity. Until I realized that all those things were ways to avoid my real life. Until I woke up one day and saw my value and decided I wanted more for myself and for my son.

The journey to becoming my true self has been interesting and it’s by far not over. I imagine it’s an adventure I will hike along until I die. I will constantly be learning new things about myself and what really makes me come alive.

A week before I broke my ankle, I ended up in the ER with debilitating back spasms. A week prior to that, I somehow split jerked a barbell into my nose and a few weeks prior to that, I ended up in urgent care with moderate but fairly unenjoyable back spasms. My body was trying to tell me something. I wasn’t being true to myself. I wasn’t feeding the calm within me. I filled every moment of my day with exercise and work and activity and ignored the now clear signs: it was too much.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. In some strange way, I believe I needed to break my ankle or have something dramatic stop me because I was caught up and somewhat detached. I was going along, moving through my life but not really intentional or connected to myself. That may be a strange concept but humor me. I found myself spending less time at home, less time with family, less time at church, less time in silence, less time with worship, less time with prayer. All the things that I know feed me, nurture me, grow me and ultimately satisfy me, I had replaced with externally satisfying but surely less meaningful distractions. Now, I’m not saying that working out or playing a sport are meaningless but when they begin to take the place of more fundamentally important things, to me, that’s an issue.

Enter in the calm of sitting in a hospital bed alone for hours every day. I never turned on the TV. I just sat for three days. I wasn’t bored. I wasn’t miserable except for the pain in my ankle. I was full. It was the calm I’d been needing. The serenity I didn’t even know I wanted (I’m sure the pain meds helped a bit). All I’ve done for the last 10 days is think and pray and worship (and watch a bit of HGTV). I’ve written and talked to friends and sat in silence waiting for my Creators words. I am grateful for this time to reflect, to accept grace from others and to tap back into who I am. I do not know what this year will look like. It will look very different from what I thought previously. I do however know that it will be good.

This is not my ankle

If you told me I’d feel this way with surgery and hardware, it would’ve been hard for me to truly comprehend the notion. I can feel the screws in my ankle. I can feel the pressure of my muscles trying to figure out what this foreign body is inside me. The tightness, the discomfort, the throbbing. I know it will fade over time. I know my body will eventually surrender. I know this whole experience will become less and less clear as the years go by.

But the hardware, the screws, the plates, those are mine forever. My ankle feels like a stranger. I don’t know this ankle. I don’t trust this ankle. I don’t even like this ankle at all. I move my left ankle in every direction possible and it’s smooth and reliable. It makes me smile. That’s my body. My functional, strong body. Then, I turn my gaze to the stump of a right ankle and I feel anger and disgust.

I know I’m not paralyzed. I know my injury is so small compared to others. I know I will go through all the phases of grief and one day, transition into acceptance or maybe even appreciation but for now, I’m no where close. Future thinking is always dangerous. Getting caught up in the endless possibilities becomes torturous. Maybe I will be the exception and my healing will restore me back to my old self. Maybe I will be better and stronger and find a deep sense of gratitude for this break. Maybe I will never be the same, never skate again, never run a race again. I try to stop all those thoughts from consuming me. Nothing good comes from focusing on things I can’t control.

For now, I will mediate between myself and my ankle, try to keep the peace and not feel so betrayed.