What do you do when you’ve grieved the death of something? When you’ve spent years getting over that fact that you’ve lost something? When you have finally gotten over the fact that it’s never coming back, and you’ve successfully moved on?
What do you do if there’s suddenly a possibility that that thing could come back?
As a child, I was super active. I was always climbing trees and exploring forests. I played on the basketball and volleyball teams at my school, I ran track, and I was the only girl on the middle-school baseball team. I was just as good, if not better, than the boys.
I wanted to join an actual baseball team, and the only reason I didn’t was because at the time my parents were assistant pastors, and baseball games would have been on Sundays.
I was a 12 year old who woke up early and went for runs in the morning.
I craved it. I loved it. It was just a part of my life.
But then I was diagnosed with cancer. I was told that chemo would be hard. That it would take a toll on my body. But if I could bare with it, if I could fight through it and make it to the other side, that I could go right back to my life.
I remember those words: “… Back to your life…”
It was those words that I stuck to. Those words that helped me get through it.
I spent 2 years with zero energy, lying down, too sick and weak to move. I lost almost all my muscle mass. But that was part of the deal. I was weak, and had almost no muscle left, but I would be able to work back up to where I was before.
But in January of 2012, I was diagnosed with Osteonecrosis, or Bone Death.
One of the steroids I had been on as part of the chemo regimen, had been killing the bones in my joints. It had affected my shoulder, my elbow and both of my knees.
My doctors stopped that steroid as soon as the Bone Death was diagnosed. But it would take two years for the steroid to wear off, and for what was left of my bones to re-harden. But what had died and collapsed would never regrow. (short of a miracle)
But probably the most traumatic part of this particular ordeal, was that the doctor I saw about this condition, said I should be in a wheel chair for the rest of my life. That any impact could seriously injure me, and that I was looking at a life of replacements and inactivity. And that any chance I had had about returning to an active lifestyle was dead.
Imagine, if you can, being a 14 year old, going through cancer. And then the one thing you have been holding on to this whole time, the one thing keeping you going, has just been violently ripped out from under you.
What are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to take that? How are you supposed to move on from that?
Thankfully we switched from a geriatric doctor to a pediatric doctor. Who realized that young people don’t want a sedentary life. But I still needed to be careful. That I was probably looking at replacements in the future. But that I still had a lot of life left to live, and I should live it how I wanted to.
But that didn’t change the fact that any impact would still injure my joints. That I would need replacements in the future, and it was only a matter of sooner versus later. It didn’t change the fact that I still was not allowed to run.
I spent YEARS getting over all of this. I gave up hope that I would ever be active again. I avoided thinking about it and escaped into Netflix.
I hated it. I hated being weak. I hated feeling weak. And that turned into a hatred for exercising. I hated feeling how little I could do, how short a time I could last, how little energy I had. So I avoided exercising at all costs. It just wouldn’t be in my life anymore.
I went to counselling, and processed and grieved the loss. I moved past it.
And in that time, I instead turned towards art. (And that was and is still a whole journey upon itself.)
I lost activity, but I gained creativity.
I still go to therapy pretty regularly. There was the whole situation with burning-out, and rediscovering myself. I’m currently making my way through Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.
But now I’m dealing with something new.
Something is making it’s way up from the depths of everything I have pushed down and buried. Something is aching to be felt again. Something in me is yearning for movement, and resistance, and energy, and strength. Something in me is pleading, begging to be active again.
And I don’t know what to do with this. I’ve spent so long grieving that part of my life. I’ve avoided thinking about it so much, I’ve put so much effort into finding another avenue for my energies.
And I just don’t know what to do. Part of me still hates exercising because it makes me feel my weakness. But I don’t know how long that part of me will remain resisting.
But my biggest struggle with all this is, how can you dare to hope for something that you’ve grieved and gotten over? How can I fulfill this yearning? How can I do this? Do I dare? Do I dare hope to be active again?
I’m scared that if I let myself hope again, if I let activity back into my life, I will just get let down again.
That something I do will break me and that I will just end up in pain for the rest of my life, or stuck in a wheelchair. That if I let this back into my life, that it will just be ripped away again.
I’m terrified that if I start exercising, that I will get those bursts of energy I used to get as a kid, bursts of energy that were only satiated by immediately, as fast as I could, sprinting! And that I won’t be able to act on them.
I’m already so terrified of hurting myself, that if I fall, my whole body suddenly, and violently tenses, just anticipating the impact. It’s such a strong PTSD reaction, that my brain shuts off, and I black out the whole fall. I just suddenly end up on the floor, absolutely exhausted and in pain. (This is how I broke my foot falling down 1 stair)
So what am I supposed to do?
I’m trying. I’m starting slow. I can walk, and I can do push-ups on a counter, and I can do sit ups.
But how far do I dare let myself go?
How do you let something back into your life that you’ve already grieved and let go?