I had hip arthroscopy 5 days ago to repair a labral tear that was seriously impinging my hip and my ability to practice yoga and generally move without pain. I was actually excited to have the surgery as my hip has been painful and restrictive for almost 2 years now. I was also so grateful that I live in a place where arthroscopic surgery is possible and I wouldn’t have to subject myself to major invasive surgery. I’m healthy and fit, I meditate daily, I have good habits. This should be a piece of cake.
The surgery went well. My hip already feels less painful than prior to the surgery. I have crutches and have been told that I can’t do any weight-bearing whatsoever on the leg for 2-3 weeks and after that only partial weight-bearing for some time. I had plans to read, relax and enjoy my new home.
Turns out I am a terrible patient. Recovery is much harder than I anticipated. Hobbling around on crutches while trying to figure out how to get my coffee cup from the counter to the couch without spilling the coffee or dropping a crutch nearly brings me to tears. What the heck? I manage to read about 4 pages of anything before needing a nap for an hour or more. I think about going to the bathroom for an hour before I actually muster the energy to get there. I tried to organize my calendar… let’s just say it wasn’t a good idea.
So maybe I will listen to what everyone tells me to do and rest.
Only my mind tells me “there is so much to do, you could be exploring deepening meditation practices, breath techniques, or studying.” Yes, I think. I should be doing those things. Only these simple practices that seemed joyful to me only a few days ago now appear daunting, exhausting even. My superpowers have petered out.
I am faced with confronting the obvious. Though I have recognized and dealt with these patterns in the past, there are still layers, still learning.
You see I was raised by my well-meaning and hard-working parents to believe that if you can you must. Those who ‘do’ succeed. Those who are lazy do not. I think this is a common belief system ingrained in the minds of many of us. I have confronted this many times before and fully recognize that my self-worth isn’t tied up in doing and I am pretty comfortable with who I am. So why then, the resistance? I suppose it’s because we never arrive. There are many levels of knowing and just when you think you’ve arrived something will come along and humble you. I am currently humbled.
I was recently at an indigenous peace pipe ceremony where we offered prayers. My prayer was to expand my level of compassion so that I might be of greater service to the world,
It’s true you should be careful what you wish for.
What is arising for me is that I don’t think I’ve really ever had much compassion for myself when it comes to healing. Like every human being, I have been through a lot. An abusive marriage, two divorces, raising a child through addiction, loss, grief, betrayal, and a whole array of other challenges. I always found a way to rise, to make my way forward with positivity. I have grown and have gratitude for each of my experiences. But there is one thing I have never given myself; Grace.
My hip is sending me a message loud and clear. If you want to heal you must sit still, relax, sleep, breathe, and just be. Healing occurs with time, patience, and grace. No amount of wishing, hoping, and force is going to make my hip heal any faster. In fact, I could harm myself if I push too hard. Giving myself space for grace is the only thing that will help.
I am almost moved to tears by this. Not because of the meds (I stopped them yesterday), but because I have given so little grace in my life. I can always see what I and others should do and have had great success helping myself and others out of difficult situations and into more fulfilling lives, but I have never just given grace for healing, absorbing, contemplation, and simply being. I don’t think I’ve been very good at letting it be.
This pains me greatly not because I need so much grace but because I’ve unknowingly withheld it from others. When I think about it I believe we are all recovering from something.
My parents lost a child, my sister, when I was just 5 months old. My son lost the future he dreamed of when opiates stole his life, a sweet friend of mine just lost the unborn baby she hadn’t even told the world about, another friend lost her father to covid. I have friends who have lost businesses to disputes or misunderstandings, lost freedom and mobility because of an unexpected injury, lost hope because of an illness, lost faith because of rejection. We’ve all lost. We’ve all suffered.
As I recover from surgery, my family, friends, and work team have extended me so much grace. “Take some time for yourself, you deserve it”, ” Rest, you are catching up on ten years worth of missed rest”, “Take your time, you need to heal.”
So much patience and grace for what is seen. I am so grateful.
Where I can do better is to remember that everyone is recovering from something and most of it is unseen. They grapple with navigating the world after rejection, self-doubt, loss, grief, and change with whatever “crutch” has been presented while they try not to spill their coffee or their tears. Everyone is doing the best they can. The struggle with my physical healing is a lesson in remembering.
We can’t pretend to know what others are suffering but one thing we can do is meet everyone with the patience and grace that we extend to those that we know are healing. What would be possible if we treated everyone with the patience, kindness, and grace that we offer to someone recovering from surgery?
I know I have been guilty of impatience, too much action and even forcing things at times. Perhaps my lesson here goes far beyond giving myself grace. I know that I cannot give others what I don’t have for myself.
Grace it is.
I am off to take a nap now.