I did it! No, I did not improve my time at CrossFit, manage to lift a heavier weight or suddenly develop the legs I always wanted. I finally figured out how to get out of my own way.
After writing my last blog, I decided to address, head on, my fears related to injury and exercise. I closed my eyes, took several long, deep breaths, and began meditating. I brought my focus to my lower back, where I usually experience pain and injury and asked, “What is it that I carry here?”
My imagination soon took me to being 15 years old. I was on a Sea Scouts white water rafting trip in Wisconsin. It was raining that day, so we decided to drive into town and roam about. On our way back, the 16-year old driver decided to show off and speed up. I remember being scared and begging her to slow down. I was in the front passenger seat. Three other girls were sitting in the back. In 1983, there were no laws regarding wearing seatbelts. None of us wore them.
The car swerved slightly off I-55, a small highway road in the middle of nowhere, onto the gravel. As the driver cut her wheel sharply to the left, the wheels locked as we hydroplaned across the road. Thankfully, no other cars were coming from the opposite direction. Thankfully, a tree stopped our car from cruising over the cliff and into the Wolff River. No so thankfully, the tree hit my door, pushing me into the driver and forcing the car to roll over, until it was upside-down.
I pulled myself out of the car. I stood outside of the car and looked down at myself trapped under the car. I told the person in the car, along with the other girls, to get out because it could blow up, and to get at least 30 feet away from the car. (Apparently, according to the others, I did yell those words out loud). Everyone managed to get out.
I walked about 30 feet. Then collapsed in pain in the middle of the road. I couldn’t move. People came. Rafters heard the collision. Another car stopped to help. I lay in the middle of the road. Small drops of rain falling into my eyes. I felt trapped in a body that couldn’t move. “Am I paralyzed?” I wondered.
More people came. The other girls were okay. “You are going to be okay,” a woman said to me as she leaned over. “Am I?” I asked myself. Tears mixed in with raindrops spilled down my face.
I looked over at the car. I saw myself still standing by the car, looking lost and scared.
The paramedics then came and took me away in a stretcher. I lay in the emergency room for hours. X-rays showed only a broken right big toe. A big gash on my foot was stitched up.
I was driven home. A 3-hour drive, I think. Was it the next day? I can’t recall. We went to see the mangled car first. It was completely totaled. “How did anyone survive?” I wondered.
The next three months were a blur. I slept in my parent’s bed mostly. My mom helped me turn over at night. It was so painful. I didn’t complain, even though there was not a single place on my body that was not bruised. I was bruised, not broken.
But wasn’t I?
That girl…She was still standing by the car when I was taken in the stretcher. She never came back. Even though I did not break any bones except for my big toe, I was broken on the inside.
I thought that perhaps I needed to retrieve that girl and bring her back, like Shaman’s do when they reintegrate parts of the soul that are lost through trauma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul_retrieval).
So I went to her, to the girl still standing by the mangled car. I asked her why she stayed back. She answered, “I don’t want to get hurt again. It’s easier not to go back. I don’t mean being hurt by another car, but by people. I’m tired of not being good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, and smart enough.”
I was not surprised to hear those words. After all, most teenagers, especially girls feel this way. So I told her that I understood, but life was pretty good now. I told her about my life, how much love and validation I had…especially how much love. I asked her if she would be willing to come back. I said, “Life is pretty awesome now. You don’t take yourself so seriously anymore, unless of course you get in your own way when you are working out. I promise, you’ll have a lot more fun now.”
She came back. She walked right into my body and we became one. It felt really good.
I took several deep breaths, and brought my awareness back to my body, sitting in the chair. I felt good.
I opened my eyes and I decided right then and there to keep to my promise. The next day at CrossFit, I walked in with enthusiasm and lacking self-consciousness. My friend Faith even caught on and reminded me not to let my ego get in the way and have fun.
And boy did I. I worked out hard and loved every minute. I took my time, paid attention to my form and only lifted the weight that my body felt comfortable lifting. It felt great as endorphins coursed through my brain and body.
Look at that. Who knew that getting out of my own way meant actually stepping back into myself?
What does this mean for you? How often do you find your fears, worries or doubts getting in your way of success, progress or happiness?
If you can, try to think or meditate about a time in your life that you may have “lost” a part of yourself. Ask yourself “why?” and perhaps imagine yourself coming back to being whole.
Wisdom traditions say that we were born “whole;” that circumstances in life that lead to hardship and hurt cause parts of us, or our souls, to die or be lost; and that being whole means accepting and loving all parts of ourselves. Even more so, when we accept all parts of ourselves, we inevitably accept others, making us kinder and more connected to them, to ourselves and to the larger universe that we exist in.
Ultimately, this is what makes us more resilient.