I have long believed that struggle teaches us things – that when we are broken and vulnerable, that is when we are more receptive to hearing our soul’s voice. So it has been with me over the past several months.
The adventure began with furniture moving and antique-getting jaunt to upstate New York. The hubber and I assisted my mother-in-law with downsizing her house in preparation for a move into an assisted living center. We flew into New York, helped move some of the furniture from the second story of the house and cleaned out the storage locker my husband had been paying on since moving to Nebraska (20+ years ago!). Then we drove a U-Haul from New York back to Nebraska for three days, unloaded the treasures into a storage unit and spent the next month and a half clearing stuff out of our house and having a garage sale to make room for the treasures.
My mind broke first: Anxiety attacks, complete and utter overwhelm, sheer exhaustion and begging for help. For the first time in my life, I had suicidal thoughts. Not a plan, but I wanted all of the emotional, mental and physical pain to stop. There were days that I was so exhausted and down that I did not eat anything. Yet there was so much to do and it was just my hubber and myself to do it.
Then my body broke: I experienced sciatic pain so bad that I could not independently lift my legs. So I returned to the chiropractor that had gotten me back on the road to mobility after our car accident several years ago.
Two months later, I landed on my back in the hospital with double pneumonia, enterovirus D68, bronchitis and the common cold. A total of a week of breathing treatments, medication, IVs, lack of sleep and an official diagnosis of asthma, for which I will be treated for the rest of my life. I felt that it was karma’s way of catching up with me for using smoking as a stress reliever. The truth was that the smoking was now – via asthma, pneumonia and breathing difficulties – becoming a major stressor.
I cried for hours on end each day, the skin check on the final admission (though done lovingly and supposedly part of protocol but not done the 1st two admissions of this pneumonia plan), brought major flashbacks of my traumatic lived experience.
When everything breaks, it only makes sense to pick up and examine the puzzle pieces and decide what fits and what doesn’t. Priorities shift shape and the magnificence that is us and the human spirit requires that we do that with love. We can’t hate ourselves into lasting change. We can’t punish or guilt ourselves to change. What do I know for sure? I need to give myself permission to love myself and to explore what that looks like through movement, through nutrition, with therapy and support and through expression. I cannot leave things unsaid and I don’t need to push through things that insult my soul. I can change direction without fear of retribution.
Lesson #1: If one has a pre-existing disability on one’s back, one should not be lifting heavy furniture. I now have 3 compressed vertebrae to the extent that my right leg is 2″ shorter than the left. Chiropractics are helping with that.
Lesson #2: Be adamant and b*%#@y if need be about what YOU need. Had I been more assertive, I would not have gone on this trip and injured myself further. I would have insisted that we fly out, hire a moving company and let the moving company deal with the mess. For all of the other medical costs, we could have afforded it.
Lesson #3: You have to believe YOU are worth fighting for. For years, I have fought for the rights of others. It is time to fight just as hard for myself.
I will continue and I will emerge, stronger than ever. Change is a gentle process and one that requires self-acceptance of the highest order. We cannot continue to wound ourselves with a lack of love. I will share the process in hope that it helps someone else to hold on and find the hope and maybe, just maybe, to know that he or she is ENOUGH.