I have entered the “danger zone” – the point in your recovery from a disease where you feel amazing; you feel like your old self again. Consequently, you want to jump right back into your old life and do all of the activities you used to do. The only problem is that while your mind is ready to move forward with your life at mock speed, your body might not be up for it yet. According to my functional medicine doctor, I am in the “danger zone” and I need to “throttle back.”
I’m hurt. And, it’s my fault.
When my second child was born, he ripped one of my pelvic floor muscles from the bone. We could not reattach the muscle, so now I have a weak link. Consequently, for the rest of my life, I’m supposed to do physical therapy exercises to build up the surrounding muscles. For years, I dutifully did my exercises, and I did improve. However, when I got really sick from an autoimmune disease roughly 17 months ago, I stopped exercising. I simply didn’t have the energy or the strength to keep up with it. My body hurt so badly that I could hardly sit. Exercising was the last thing on my mind.
Consequently, my muscles atrophied and my pelvis became “wobbly.” Two weeks ago, I did too much too soon. My pelvic floor wasn’t able to keep up. Now my entire pelvic bone has shifted and the surrounding muscles have gone into spasm – they locked up in an attempt to protect my body from further damage. Fortunately, it’s fixable. It’s just painful and frustrating. Honestly, I’m angry.
This disease stole my identity.
I used to hike up mountains, rock climb, and bike over logs and down steep cliffs. My identity was wrapped up in my physicality; My athletic accomplishments gave me a sense of self-worth. But, that feeling of being “good enough” was stolen from me when I got sick. In the blink of an eye, I went from being a competitive athlete to spending most of my time lying on the floor in pain.
This disease stole my independence.
I love my independence. Whatever the task, no matter the challenge, I can do it on my own. But, because of this disease, I had to start asking for help. I even had to rely on my husband to help me with daily chores. I felt like a burden.
This disease stole years of my life.
The worst part of this disease was having to tell my children – over and over – that I couldn’t play with them because I was too tired or in too much pain. For years, I watched their childhood from the sideline.
I’ve had enough.
I’m done with this disease. I’m done with the pain, done with the anger, done with the frustration, done with the disappointment, done with letting it steal time from my life, and I’m done even thinking about it.
I want my old life back.
I keep telling myself that this injury is just a minor set-back. It’s just a reminder that I need to continue my journey with humility – taking one baby step at a time. I just need to meet my body where it’s at, instead of pushing it to be where it was 8 years ago.
But, maybe there’s more to this lesson.
Clearly I’m on a new path. And, there has to be a reason. Perhaps there is something God wants to show me – something He couldn’t reveal while I was on my former path that was paved by my physicality. I don’t know the reasoning behind this fork in the road, and that’s okay. I trust that He will reveal the meaning when I’m ready. Until that moment arrives, I will remain grateful and indebted to Him.
God has given me a second chance at life.
He has reversed my disease, restored my independence, and given back the thing I wanted most – the ability to play with my children. In return, I made a promise to Him that I would do my best to never again take a single moment for granted. So, I will stop wallowing in my sorrow. I will stop holding on to the past, wishing I could have that life back. I will stop looking back with a sense of longing, as though my life is incomplete.
As I sit here, trying to let go of the past, I’m able to be present in the moment – for the first time in months. And, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude. I see my husband in the backyard pulling weeds to make room for my flowers to be planted; I see my children laughing as they create a water slide in the front yard; I see my dogs laying at my feet to keep me company as I write.
I’m surrounded by love.
Maybe I don’t want my old life back after all. Maybe I don’t need to live through my past. Maybe I don’t need to be the person I once was because that person didn’t get to wake up and see the smiling faces of her children, or feel the loving touch of her husband’s arms wrapped around her when she’s had a bad day. When I “throttle back” and allow myself to live in the moment, I realize that I’m not missing out on anything.
I have everything I’ve always wanted right in front of me.
Suddenly, not being able to hike or mountain bike doesn’t seem so important. I am on a new path now, and it may never cross with my old path. I’m learning to be okay with that. God knows that I long to climb mountains and to, once again, experience the accomplishment of biking over logs and through streams. He’s telling me that this is not the right season for those adventures.
But, I believe He will get me there – some day. And, if He doesn’t, then I trust He will bring new adventures into my life that will be even more fulfilling and more meaningful – like the current journey I’m on with my family.
So, I will remain steadfast in my faith and will continue doing the work that He has asked me to do. And, I will always remember that He gave me a second chance at life – not to do the things I want to do, but to do the things He has called me to do:
His agenda, not mine. His time, not mine. His way, not mine.