Healing Piece by Piece
As a Massage Therapist for the past nine years, I have worked with many people during their various paths to recovery, and have provided support and bodywork while clients have nursed themselves back to health. While I have previously sustained my own aches and pains, none was so life altering as my recent car accident, when I was given the opportunity to heal myself.
Among my scrapes and dings, was my first ever broken bone - my clavicle which snapped in two due to force from the seat belt, and it was very fortunate that my vehicle sustained the rest of the brunt of impact. Due to both of these occurrences, as a massage therapist I couldn’t work, and I certainly couldn’t drive anywhere. The sudden reality of both a loss of income and a loss of independence hit hard. I languished in feelings of self-deprecation, remorse, and woe for a solid two weeks. One negative thought, any memory of the evening, or a caring call or text from a friend, and I would burst into sobs, and my dog would always curl up next to me with some intuitive knowing that I needed her.
It was easy to become overwhelmed with my new situation and become almost paralyzed with fear. I imagined my new solo massage business slowly becoming obsolete, as one by one, I had to turn down clients’ requests. I imagined my arm never recovering, my house being repo-ed, my boyfriend leaving me for someone whose arm worked, and even my dog leaving me for a mom who could drive her to her favorite walking spots. It didn’t take me long to discover that this type of mindset was not healing.
My reduction in mobility and varying ability forced me to make a couple changes. Healing is not just a single planned endeavor, and it was not just my bone that was broken. I had much to come to terms with emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and needed to start focusing on what I could do, how I was going to learn from this lesson, and what changes I wanted to create. My boyfriend’s tattoo from 14 years ago scribbled out an apt reminder: Life Goes On. It peered out at me from his right deltoid, a daily reminder to pick myself up.
I chose to start with the physical. In order for my body to absorb maximum nutrients and concentrate on mending it’s structure, I embarked on a 40-day nutritional cleanse, which was a combination of supplemental green drinks, high quality proteins, and a variety of fibers and other cleansing materials. I refrained from alcohol, coffee and all soft drinks, and hunkered down in full rest mode.
Along with this, I called upon my wonderful social network for help, something I am not always comfortable doing. But these past two months have given me the opportunity to reach out to my friends, my family, and my boyfriend, all of whom have been there in these recent trying times with advice, visits, comfort, a ride, a hug, a funny text, or even a simple repeated, “Keep Your Head Up.” With the support of my loved ones, the days did not feel so overwhelming. I have learned how truly invaluable it is to Ask for Help. It in fact does not make you weak, and I feel stronger in my relationships than ever. There is excitement in the vulnerability of saying, “I need help” and so much love when the response is, “I will be there.” “What can I do?” and “We’re a team.”
For my mental and emotional health, Luna and I went on daily walks and I allowed myself to succumb to bouts of tearful release. Somehow my problems seemed much more manageable after a nice wet sob. It wasn’t simply my bone that had to reset. I drew on three main concepts when my mind or heart was hurting: Adaptation, Gratitude, Patience.
Number One, I had to adapt. Luna and I couldn’t go to our same walking spots, I couldn’t go to the gym, and I couldn’t work, but there were things I could do. We found new walking adventures that were closer to home, I spent time on marketing from the house and other ways to strengthen my business, like work on my blog piece. I played with art projects and read lots of books, my latest favorite being The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. I enjoyed many visits from family and the fact that I was actually free to spend time with them.
Secondly, anytime I felt sick to my stomach with what had happened, I took a moment to feel Gratitude. I wrote a letter to Toyota to thank them for their fantastic crash testing department and for hiring employees who did stand-up work when they allowed the 2011 Corolla to roll out of the factory. I took a moment to thank the Universe for letting me walk away from a vehicle accident with a solitary broken bone. And every day I feel grateful that no one else was involved. I feel grateful for every single friend and family member who has been there for me, for not judging me, and for endless support shown by giving me rides, buying me lunch, and asking me what I need. No matter how terrible I am feeling, this sense of Gratitude is always what I can rely on to bring on a sense of calm.
Last, the ability to practice Patience has been critical. Anyone who knows me will immediately laugh, knowing that patience is my most defective virtue. These past few months have provided me with ample chances to begin to learn the art of Patience. There was no way I was going to rush the regrowth of my bone, or hasten the Universe’s plan for my recovery. Every day I continue to sit back, accept, and trust that my life will come back together with time.
Piece by piece, you put your life back together. I am not the same person as before this major of an event, nor do I want to be. I still struggle with fears that my business will not be as successful, that my arm won’t move as fluidly, that the mess I created will not completely go away. I continue to feel grateful for the small steps that I’ve taken - getting the OK from the ortho-surgeon to begin working again, beginning to fill my schedule again, slowly but surely, and attending my first day at my new job at HealthSport.
I don’t venture to say I am completely healed, but it is a precious, ongoing journey that I am fortunate to be on. Indeed, Life Goes On.