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What to do when life punches you in the gut

On August 14th, a bright & sunny day, I was crossing the street and I turned my ankle. I fell on my foot funny. It hurt, a lot.

It continued to hurt. The swelling didn’t really go down, even days later. After some prompting, we went to the doctor. The verdict: my foot was broken. (An avulsion fracture of the fifth metatarsal. In case you’re curious.)

I didn’t want to go to the doctor. We don’t have health insurance, and we’d just experienced our second-most hellish move ever (the first being when we moved down to Austin from Missouri), which seriously sapped our finances. And I most certainly did not want my foot to be broken.

I can’t do yoga. I can’t cross my legs to meditate. I can only barely, very clumsily, ride a bike, and we just went carless (and there’s not a bus stop in the immediate vicinity, which means we’ve been racking up car2go fees for lack of an alternative). Walking up stairs is an small ordeal (and we just moved to an apartment on the second floor; no elevators). My walking cast is bulky and heavy and slow and hard to move around in small spaces and generally, a big pain in the ass.

I don’t consider myself a stranger to pain; after all, I’ve had my nose pierced (and then subsequently almost ripped it out on accident), I’ve sat under a tattoo needle for two or three hours straight, and then there was last year when I was sick and in almost constant pain.Β Quite frankly, though? This sucks. It’s not always incredibly painful, but it always hurts. It’s messing with my sleep, which then messes with everything else; I have less energy, I’m more prone to mood swings, and I’m perpetually thatmuch closer to getting upset for a silly reason. The news that we were out of the ingredients for my nightly hot cocoa brought me to tears earlier this week.

Last but not least, it pisses me off that I need help from anyone. I’m like my mom, I can’t even enjoy being waited on; I’m just annoyed that I can’t do it myself.

Sometimes, life punches you in the gut.

You find out your significant other cheated on you or lied to you big time, you’re worried your marriage is falling apart, your marriage actually does fall apart and then you have to deal with the aftermath.

You get in a car wreck. Your child gets sick. Your parent gets sick. Your grandparent dies. Natural disaster strikes. Disaster, in general, decides to stop lurking around the corner and strikes.

Sometimes, more than one of these happens at once. I get it. I’ve been there. This whole year has been a rollercoaster of high highs and low lows – and I know I’m not the only one that’s been on that rollercoaster, not by a long shot.

More likely than not, part of the reason you went into business for yourself is because you wanted to be self-sufficient. You didn’t want to rely on anyone else for having fulfilling work to do, having pride in your work, or your income. And while that tenacity has served you well in other places, it’s likely that here it’s going to bite you in the ass. I get stubbornness, I do. But…

You’ve got to be kind to yourself.

And when you’re stressed out and angry and upset and frustrated and just trying to hold it together at any given moment, being kind to yourself is probably not very high on your list of priorities. That path leads to burnout and collapse.

You have to be able to open up to someone. You need to talk about it. Preferably, someone who isn’t going to judge you if you cry and yell and rage, because judgement is the last thing you need right now.

You need to not work as hard as you normally do, and stop kicking yourself about not getting enough work done. Take the day off. Make your office hours shorter.

Go outside, soak up some sun. Eat something nourishing – if not nourishing, then at least yummy. Smell the flowers and the sun and/or the autumn leaves (depending on where you’re at). Watch your favorite movie – the one with the happy ending. Hell, go find a funny cat video on Youtube and make yourself laugh for a few minutes.

(This is just as much me writing to myself, as it is me writing to you, by the way.)

If this is you right now:

Big hugs. Sending you love and mental chocolate from somewhere else in the trenches. You’re not alone.

If this isn’t you right now:

Think of a time when it was you. Remember if you were kind to yourself, or not, and how that affected things. No judging – just noticing. What will you do differently next time, if anything?

We all need support. That’s one of the reasons I’m so big on systems; the best systems are supportive. In fact, I consider that a key marker of a good system: it makes it as easy as possible for you to take care of yourself. With that in mind, what do you do to support yourself? How do you make sure you get the support you need?

17 Comments

  1. oh Michele, I am sooooo sorry this happened to you. Really big HUGS to u and lots of LIGHT+healing. Yes, actually I tore the acl+ meniscus in my knee, in yoga of all places ! Warrior pose, 3yrs ago. At any rate scooting up n’down stairs on my butt etc.,cane, physical therapy and still have to be careful. It does suck. And I love, your “the find a funny u tube video, cup o’tea,hang with ur peeps.” Gently, slow down. Somehow a gift embedded in it all.

    Reply

    • Yikes! I know knee injuries are nasty, I’m sorry you experienced that Callahan πŸ™ But yes…slowing down is SO IMPORTANT. I’ve really experienced that this last month or so and this week especially, and I fought against it at first but that’s unhealthy and honestly, it doesn’t really help anything either!

      Thank you for your comment & your sweet thoughts <3

      Reply

  2. Ouch!
    Wishing you healing and patience. I can identify with what you are talking about, I find it relatively easy to love and approve of myself when I’m strong and healthy. It’s a challenge when I’m vulnerable and needy, but of course, that’s when we need the love most!

    Reply

    • Thank you for your kind thoughts & your comment, Fran! It’s true what you say – the times when it’s hardest to give kindness & compassion are usually the times when it’s most vital.

      Reply

  3. I had a serious ankle injury once. Not only does it hurt, having your mobility impaired can make you feel helpless. It’s an opportunity to really appreciate our feet and the ability to walk.

    I love your advice to be kind to ourselves. Makes me think we should remember to be kind to others too… we don’t know what they may be struggling with.

    Reply

    • Oh yeah, I think feeling helpless is the most frustrating thing. Having to ask a stranger to open a door or help me with something is an intensely frustrating experience for me. I can tell you for sure, I’ll never take walking or skipping or doing yoga for granted again!

      As for being kind to others, it reminds me of that “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” quote. We never know what’s going on in someone elses’ life, so that cashier that seemed cranky is probably just preoccupied with her own things and it has nothing to do with you.

      Thanks for commenting, Linda πŸ™‚

      Reply

  4. Oh Michelle, I am *SO* sorry this happened to you! Give yourself permission to hurt and to be miserable. If you can’t do it now, when you need it, when CAN you?

    Sending you biiiig hugs, virtual chocolate, and lots of love m’dear.

    Reply

    • Thank you, Liz! <3 Big hugs back. I like your line about "if not now, then when can you?" - I hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes SO MUCH sense.

      Reply

  5. Ouch! I’m not the best with pain either, but I do find it helpful to be kind to my body and to give it kudos for knowing how to heal, e.g. “Thank you ankle for swelling to protect tender bits that are mending – you’re doing a good job!”

    Of course, this require much reminders to my brain and psyche who have been known to be auto-set to bully tone.

    Reply

    • Oh I love the idea of saying thank you to your body for healing! I think maybe I’ll start doing that at night before I go to sleep.

      Thank you for commenting, Jo! Also, I went to try and edit your Twitter username part of the comment, but I apparently can’t. Though it looks like you got to that already anyways. πŸ™‚

      Reply

  6. I’m so sorry about your foot. I’ve never had a broken bone so I can only imagine how frustrating it is to be limited in such a way. Your advice on how to deal is so spot on!

    Reply

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