The Blessing of a Broken Foot?
In Wendy Mogel’s book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, she postulates that skinned knees, like other childhood rites of passage are not only OK, but are also healthy and positive experiences for a child to have in order to learn resilience and grow into an adult who can tolerate the emotional ups and downs of life. These are sagacious thoughts that make helicopter moms all over the world even just a little bit more anxious.
As an adult, however, when injured, one wonders, “Where is the lesson? What good is there to receive from this experience? What could I possibly learn from the pain and inconvenience? “
Four weeks ago, I was rushing to grab my daughter’s bathing suit from her drawer upstairs, which she had forgotten that morning. Purse in one hand, huge bag of popcorn in the other (God forbid I forget a snack on the way to swim practice), I raced to get it all done and still pick up the kiddos in time. In my panic and rush, I slipped on a step and tumbled down the full flight of stairs breaking my foot and ankle landing in a mess of popcorn. Of course my first thought was, “Crap, now I’m going to have to pick up all this popcorn.”
I remember heading down the stairs into the kitchen (crawling maybe?) in shock – shaking, nauseous and with chills not knowing the extent of the damage. It was only when I realized that I couldn’t bear weight on my left foot, that I knew it was more serious. Again, my first thought was of a workshop I was to give that evening, just two hours later. I texted my friend to borrow her crutches, which she had from a recent foot surgery, so I could still give the talk. Seriously? That talk was my priority? Next, I called my babysitter who agreed to come over and pick up the kids for me. And finally, with prodding and strong-arming, my friend came over with crutches in hand and “forced” me to go to the ER with her.
In my disarray and shock, not knowing the full extent of the accident, I wondered how I would continue my business, which was starting to thrive, and how I would take care of my three children and myself at the same time. I also panicked that I would not be able to exercise for who knows how long. I texted my trainer hoping for advice as to how to exercise with a broken foot only to get a text back saying “Be patient and learn from your experience. Suffering is our Greatest Teacher” I basically wanted to practice a kickboxing class on him with my new boot after hearing that. Again, what could I possibly learn from this?
It wasn’t until a few weeks into the healing process that I finally figured out what the lesson is. It’s the very thing that I coach my clients to do all the time. SLOW DOWN! Be more mindful. Don’t try to “do it all.” No matter how much you want to do so. I’m not going to lie, these past four weeks have been excruciating at times – hobbling to get places, having less energy and lugging a boot around with me wherever I go has been annoying at best, painful at worst. But I have slowed down. My community, friends and family have chipped in. I am still in business and my kids are fed. It’s OK not to exercise for a few weeks and truly let my body heal. It’s actually been nice having the extra time to myself and not at the gym!
Just as children, our hurts, wounds and boo-boos give us the armor and immunity to thrive as adults and soldier on through tough times – the lessons continue when these wounds happen as adults. How we respond to an incident like this rather than react to it can make all the difference in how you perceive it, and deal with it.
I am choosing to learn from this experience rather than feel sorry for myself or play victim. I marvel at the fact that I wasn’t hurt much worse and so grateful that I can still drive (since it’s my left foot.) I will heal and life will go on.
I’m allowing myself to accept generosity, love, food, carpool offers and company from others which for many, including myself, is often hard to do in a “go it alone’ type of culture we live in. There are many gifts to receive in the accepting of those gifts from others.
These lessons are not enough, of course, to wish broken feet upon anyone but learning has been done. Indeed, in the wise words of American Idol pop star Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” And stronger I know I will be.
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