Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with unexpected pain so strong you nearly cry at the thought of getting out of bed?
Maybe that was a bit too specific …
I started a new exercise program a few weeks ago with my partner. We’d been talking about doing this program for months, and the time was finally here (we use the Centr app, in case you’re curious).
We did the first workout on a Monday and it was oppresively intense - we both expected to be exhausted, but this was far beyond that (especially since we both workout consistently + my partner was in the Marines).
The next day, we were a bit sore and decided to take the day off before continuing the program …
Then I woke up that Tuesday evening at midnight and howled in pain as I tried to get to the bathroom to pee. My left foot was swollen with nearly every muscle throbbing with pain. I made it back to bed + totally unloaded.
I started bawling about the pain, about how I ruined our workout plans, about how I had no idea what was wrong or how to fix it … it was an overwhelming flood of emotion that I’d been trying to hold back while tossing and turning for the past two hours.
My partner, the gem that he is, hugged me, helped me take deep breaths, got me some pain reliever to take, and held my hand as the tears subsided and the exhaustion overtook me and I passed out.
And I had some of the best sleep I’ve had in months. The emotional release of crying (which is something I’ve avoided as much as humanly possible in my 37 years - yes, I go to therapy) was exactly what my body needed. Yeah, my foot still hurt (it took the rest of the week for it to heal), but it was healing … and changes needed to be made.
Having some foot pain for an entire week may not sound like much until it happens to you and your entire life shifts: everything takes longer to do; you track how often you can take pain reliever; you track how long you’ve iced it and until you ice it again; you can’t exercise AT ALL; you can’t take walks outside; you can’t take walks inside; and if you’re a recovering perfectionist workaholic like me, you feel pretty damn useless in most situations.
We’ve made the determination that the format of that specific exercise program is not for us … and that I needed new workout shoes (which is likely what led to the injury in the first place, along with overuse).
In the past … even just 5 years ago … I would be proverbially ripping a limb off about being a failure, weak, pathetic, terrible person, terrible partner … and it gets a lot darker from there.
Thanks to numerous factors that I could write an entire book about (oh wait, I am), after my initial disappointment about the setback, my years of watching/memorizing Mythbusters episodes came back to me. “Every result is a result,” Adam Savage once said.
Whether or not you like the outcome of any decision or choice you make, there will be an outcome.
How you REACT to that outcome - whether a choice/decision was my directly by you or not - is the benchmark of your progress to becoming a compassionate person. In particular, being compassionate to yourself can be the hardest thing you ever do.
Every result is a result.
Every mistake is a lesson.
Every no is a yes to something better.
Perhaps, as we age, being forced to slow down feels more detrimental than ever before … as we slowly take one step each day toward our inevitable end.
We like to feel as in control as possible, but deep down, we know we control so very little - our decisions being one of the few things on that list.
But even our decisions are influenced by our past, our friends, our family, our experiences, our beliefs, our pain, and all the other emotions that flood our brains + bodies when faced with a choice.
For me, this January has been one of the slowest starts to a year I’ve ever had - and it’s the one I’m most grateful for.
Along with the foot injury, I received a promotion at work last month that comes with more money (woo) and more responsibility (also woo - I’m weird like that).
However, as with many good things, the transition to the new role won’t fully happen until the end of February. Until then, I’m slowly relinquishing my old responsibilities and taking on new ones - attending different meetings, working with different team members, and starting to make bigger decisions that will impact our team and our customers.
Normally, I’m a “hit the ground running” type of person, but this year, this new role, this foot injury have all reminded me to slow down, savor the moment, and most importantly, to be intentional about what I choose to do with my time and my skills.
I hope 2022 is also the year where you are less reactive (unless it’s COVID-related, then we’re all in the same boat!) and more proactive about who, what, where, when, and why your time is used.
This leads me to the last topic of this edition … children.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I’ve been reading “The Baby Decision: How to Make the Most Important Decision of Your Life” by Merle Bombardieri MSW, LICSW since the beginning of 2022.
This is a topic that has, for lack of a better phrase, followed me around for over 20 years. The society we live in is VERY focused on those who can have babies SHOULD have babies (and depending on what country you live in, it may be even more intense than it is here in the States).
My default choice has been to not have kids. Ever.
I made this choice when I was in elementary school, and again in middle school, and again in high school, and again in college, and numerous times since then.
I’m 37 now, and my “fertile” years are ticking by. Some might be worried about that. Me? I’m just ready for it to be over (*cue awkward laugh*).
But what happens when you marry a partner, a cis man, who has ALWAYS wanted to be a father?
The situation gets messy, that’s what happens.
To spare you the last 17 and a half years of our relationship, we’re both at the point where a final decision needs to be made - we’ll either have 1 child within the next 3-4 years, or we’re staying childfree.
You can guess what he wants versus what I want.
Enter “The Baby Decision” book …
With the help of our therapist, we’re working through the exercises in the book, with the goal of making a decision sometime this year.
If the idea of making such a big decision “sometime this year” makes you queasy, join the club.
It took me an entire month to get through the book, particularly Chapter 2, which is filled with numerous reflective exercises to help you uncover your preferences, your hang-ups, and your misconceptions.
I’m the big reader in the family, so it is taking my husband a bit longer, but he is diligently doing it, which means a lot to me.
Now that I’m done with the book, the urge to make a final decision and let the topic die is looming around me … but that’s not going to happen.
This is a topic we’ve come back to countless times in our relationship (remember, we’re pushing 2 decades here!). It wouldn’t surprise me if it took us until at least the Summer to make a decision.
But the process is started. And it will continue until we can come to a mutual decision that, in some way, benefits us both.
You can expect me to return to this topic over the coming months, so this is planting the initial seeds (pun intended).
In many ways, 2022 has already become the year of slow: slow decisions, slow healing, slow growth … and maybe that’s exactly what we all need right now.