It has taken me an entire week, 2 tear soaked moments in awkward places and a lot of feeling really, really, really low to finally have a sense of humor about today.
Today is one year since I had surgery on my hip. And, I knew it would be hard, because everything about this surgery has been hard, but I didn’t know it would be THIS hard. And I didn’t know it would be so RELENTLESS. I didn’t know. Which, in and of itself, is hard. Because I like to know. I like to have a plan and have it work out.
If you’ve never had a major injury or chronic pain or illness, all of this talk about the roller coaster and the struggle and the deep, complicated work that a person has to do to live in their body and live in the world when everything hurts, including the body and especially the world, can all seem a bit abstract. It can make you think things like:
Oh, poor thing.
I don’t know how she does it.
God, that’s terrible.
It can even make you feel scared, because you might have an inkling that perhaps this could happen to you. And, it sounds pretty awful. Or, it looks pretty sad.
And, I probably would have thought that way 10 years ago. I think I saw chronic pain or chronic injuries and thought they seemed terrible and complicated and thank goodness not my problem.
But this year, it is my problem. And, OH, what a journey through shit and storm this problem has been! Maybe even more so for me, because I have an irritating and uncanny ability to look IMMEDIATELY for the silver lining in a situation. Even when it is full blown shit sandwiches everywhere, I am just searching for that kernel of hope. I’m like an overgrown, mid-thirties cheerleader without any of the physical prowess or sparkle hair thingies.
Except, this year and this week, especially, I encountered, maybe for the first time in a very long time, what it feels like to really lose hope. And, lord, that has been worse than all of the pain and the medical bills and the conflicting opinions. Worse than the crutches in the rain with my two small kids. Worse than the looks from other parents at the playground. Worse than the laundry list of things I can no longer do. Worse than the time I can never get back or the plans I can never go back and keep.
Losing hope has been the worst.
And, I think I had to go there, and I had to get here, because it feels like the very bottom of a well that I have been slowly but steadily falling down, and I suspect there was no other way. Since, I have done my best and tried my hardest and showed up every step of the way with my head in the game and my game face on, and that has not always worked out the way I planned. So, this week I decided to give up my plan. I decided to give up. I said, Okay. I’m too tired. I decided to let go.
For several days, this really sucked.
Because what next? The part of me that wants to find meaning and find the answer and the solution and fix the problem and make a plan Z and turn it around and put my sparkle hair thingies in is NOT HAVING IT. That part of me sees letting go as DEATH.
In my case, as it turns out, letting go is not death. It is something else.
It is letting go of being in charge. It’s surrender. It’s saying: I do not have this, guys. I don’t have this, God. Jesus, take the wheel (and please take the kids’ bath time while you’re at it because you know how that goes). I don’t want to be a warrior. I don’t want to find the answer. I don’t want to lead my way out of this.
And, when I do that, I can see what is most difficult in this process. And, that is the loss of my identity that I keep reliving every time I tell myself that I’m closer to being where I used to be. More painful than my foot, ankle, hip and leg, is the reality that I can no longer define myself by what I am able to do. And how things were. And who I thought I was. Or, what I thought I was up to.
What is most painful, most difficult and most heartbreaking is that, in order to be led through this time, I must embrace the mystery of life, the miracle of grace and my own inherent, unshakeable value. And this value has no basis in my ability to do or keep up or put on a good face.
I am not in charge.
I don’t have the answers.
I don’t know what is next.
Somehow, the only way to find meaning in this year, in this body, in this world, is for me to stop deciding what I’m up to here, and to let the answers and the way come to me. I like to be a leader, but life wants to lead me. So, today, I am going to take a rest.
Maybe I have had it wrong all along, because I thought that I was good enough because I do good enough. Maybe I had it backward, that if I used my brain and my wits and my heart enough, I would be enough. Maybe I thought that I was getting somewhere because I was moving fast. Maybe I thought that I would get to God by BEING GREAT. Maybe I thought that being great meant looking good. Maybe I thought looking good meant being capable. Maybe I thought being capable meant never struggling in public for too long (I had to qualify that, because y’all know I know how to have a public breakdown).
Maybe it is time to listen more than I talk.
It has been a long year, and it has been a hard year. I knew every step of the way that it could be worse. I did not take my life for granted. But, I missed this piece. This is the piece that is easiest for me to miss. It is hardest for me to keep my eyes on.
This is the piece that says: You were born. You took a breath. You are here. Hallelujah. Carry on.
This love is unshakeable love, that says I can be an enough mother for my kids, even if I am aching and in pain. This love says that the universe really does have my back, that it’s moving me through and I am okay, no matter what life hands me, because I am here. Hallelujah. Carry on.
It has been a long year, and it has been a hard year. But, I was always going to live this year. I was always getting here.
So, I don’t know what’s next. I am not in charge. I have cried the tears and flicked off the sky above me enough to know that I am right where I am supposed to be, and I am going to take a minute and be here. No fighting. No kicking or screaming.
Unshakeable love. Being led to wherever I am next meant to go.