I sat down to write a meditation on my latest health set-back — a stress-fractured fibula, fortified in a heavy-duty boot to match — but found myself at a loss for words.
I lead a pretty precarious and adventurous lifestyle, for a suburban-bred girl on the cusp of 21. In the past year alone, I’ve fractured my radial head (elbow) in Cambodia, ripped my Achilles in my right ankle, and sustained a dreadful back spasm after falling on ice at school. And now this? Another fractured foot and four weeks of sedentary solitude?
Stupid stupid stupid. It seems I’ve shot myself in the foot, for the third time in my lifetime. Why didn’t I get this checked out sooner? Why didn’t I notice the pain before?
I have been at war with my body for 7 years.
My mind has always been stronger than my muscles, my brain more fortified than my bones. Depression didn’t help, and neither did anxiety. Being bullied for my aptitude in the classroom took me down a peg, too. But anorexia is still the silent beast that lurks in my veins, catching me off my balance, off my game, even in those beautiful moments of mind-over-matter. I am no match for this matter, it seems.
I have been in a continual state of broken-ness for 7 years.
Broken foot. Broken hand. Broken finger. Pulled tendon. Broken finger (again). Bruised spine. Broken elbow. I’m sure I’m forgetting something in there.
I have tried to outrun, outlast, outsmart my opponent — but the bones beneath me have faltered every single time. I crack. I break like chinaware, like glass in window panes, like icicles shooting down from the sky to collide with the earth.
I am fragile and weak, and yet have wanted nothing more than to be seen as strong and beautiful all my life. And now, sitting here chained to a cast like an anchor for four weeks, I feel failed. Tethered back to a reality of my own doing, I am reminded in humble defeat how much farther I still have to trek to get this beast off my back.
I have always believed I could be whomever I wanted to be, to do whatever I wanted to do. I have believed in the power of self-reliance, of personal agency, to defeat the limitations and boundaries Society sets around us. And maybe I still do.
But I cannot deny my body any longer.
I’m literally cracking under the pressure I have put myself in, again and again. Maybe you are cracking too, and I wouldn’t be surprised. But I am here, physically breaking under the strain and weight of my own weightlessness and body image and inability to get in touch with my body.
I am not invincible. I am not unbroken. I am not strong enough or durable enough to withstand this blow-by-blow upon my body every single day I stand to fight. Or, more accurately, to run and hide from my own demons, from my past that makes me — and breaks me — who I am.
I wish I could see the end of this, for I thought I could see it, taste it touch it embrace it, for a few months.
Maybe I can’t do everything I’ve ever wanted and ever dreamed of doing on my own two feet, and maybe I have to concede in this battle of wills, for if my body is unwilling, how can I deny myself?
I am not healed, I am only beginning.
For now, I am forced to walk. I walk while the world rushes by me, in earnest haste to get wherever it is bodies must go to at 2:54 in the afternoon. I walk through rainstorms. I wait for elevators. For now, I have time to look up at the clocktowers and the hills and the sunshine streaming in through clouds of gray because for now I have the time. Time, and aggressive (forced upon) patience.
Perhaps, I needed this unfortunate ball-and-chain to slow down — to slow in more ways than one. My mind is quieter. My steps more deliberate. My body constrained by the limits of yet still my body. I am going as fast as I can, and that’s all I can do right now.
There is a lesson of gratitude and patience in here, manifested in all of the aches and pains and lopsided leanings. My body is and always has been my biggest interference — and maybe she is telling me something this time that I should really listen to.
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