It’s Not You, It’s Me

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Today marks exactly 6 months since I dislocated my knee on a seemingly boring day of family vacation to Belgium. The mechanical failure was both tiny and quiet (I calmly said “ambulance” repeatedly while falling to the ground in slow motion) and spectacularly monumental. Infinite PT, 3 different braces, 2 sets of crutches and a cadaver MCL allograft later, I can now drive a car again as of a week ago and today am *this* close to being able to walk with a normal gait once more.

At the outset, when we thought this was a 2-week annoyance, I believed the universe’s lesson here was “slow down”: read a book, take a breath. As the situation progressively revealed its severity (100% MCL tear, no way to recover on my own), I thought maybe this was a lesson in giving up control and accepting help. Needing help bathing, cooking, dressing or getting shoes off & on does humble you. Severely. (NOTE: endless thanks to my family, friends, health specialists and colleagues who jumped in to helped me get to this point).  

But at this moment, I think that the lesson from all this is…there isn’t a lesson. Yup. None. To quote my therapist “you don’t have to spin this into something positive – you can accept it as negative”. Sometimes life is truly random, statistically anomalous and without deeper meaning. So, now the question is one of character and the choice is mine for how to react to and whether I will grow from this event.

I can say I feel truly changed through this experience. I appreciate things I didn’t even notice 6 months ago. I am hyper-aware of my privilege – including and especially during the time I was bed-bound post surgery, but still able to earn money & stimulate my brain interacting with Showpad teams & customers. Being able to buy a wheelchair to get around while you can’t bear weight is a privilege. Having a family and personal network who could support me is also a huge privilege. I appreciate individual acts of empathy, service & compassion in a way I never did before. I can accept help (somewhat more) gracefully. I also appreciate the power of my body in a new way and regret the years I have spent speaking poorly towards it because of its size or shape.

I’m not yet at peace regarding my feelings about being the center of negative attention, but even noticing “gee, I’m not comfortable being the center of negative attention” has been its own awareness revelation. I used to love a spotlight & a mic, but being the object of pity for so long was one of the harder things for me to deal with even when I knew those sad faces came from love. I have felt the desire to blend into the background as “normal” in a way I have never before felt as a reaction to this.

During this period, I missed so many things that feed my soul (working out in groups, dance, spin, travel, volunteering, being alone), but can now truly see the role they play in my life and appreciate them as such. I also recognize that I need to come down from the soul “fast food” that was helping me escape & pass the time. I’m looking at you, Love Island.

Looking ahead to 2024, I don’t want to escape or pass the time, I want to be present. I want to keep my new eyes, gratitude and awareness even as I add back in some of the endeavors that I formerly thought defined me. I lost them for quite a while and well, I am still me – hopefully changed for the better and a lot more awake than before.

In Ghent with my amazing team the week before MCL reconstructive surgery. I'm hiding crutches behind me in this photo.Petting Zoo Oct 23

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