A year and a half ago, I fell down a spiral staircase.
It happened at a time when I was running away from myself. Trying to act like I was okay when really I wasn’t. It had been 10 months since I found out about my husband’s affair, and I just wanted to be normal and happy like everybody else.
When you’re reeling in the depths of despair and humiliation, it’s much easier to try and shut it all out. To act like you’re impenetrable. To put on a smile. You don’t want people to worry. You don’t want people to feel sorry for you. You just want to go back to being like everyone else. You want to act like it never even happened in the first place.
For me this manifested in a variety of ways. I wanted to be in a new relationship. I wanted to move into a new role at work. I wanted to do all the things that everyone else was doing - traveling, going out with friends, laughing, building a successful career. I wanted to do all the things I thought would make me happy and whole again.
As it turns out, it’s much easier to run towards other things when the only thing you need to be running towards is yourself. I was pushing myself so hard and over-exerting so much energy in the wrong direction that I became literally (and figuratively) out of balance.
I fell down those stairs with such force that I fractured my tailbone in two places, dislocated it entirely and tore most of the surrounding ligaments. Here I had been running on overdrive trying to control the situation, when the universe decided to fix it for me.
Instead of going out on dates I was laid up in bed. Instead of focusing on work I was just trying to figure out how to sit comfortably. Instead of traveling I was stuck home in tears. I couldn’t drive long distances. I couldn’t even sit on a couch comfortably. It was too painful to go anywhere. Too painful to do all the things everyone else was doing.
I believe that things happen for a reason. And while it wasn’t the universe that literally struck me down, I do believe that my energy and focus was so out of balance that I needed a wake up call. I was over-exerted in the wrong direction. I wasn’t paying attention to myself and what I really needed. I was focused on anything and everything else but that.
The lesson I needed to learn was to slow down. To allow myself time to grieve and time to heal. To acknowledge the pain I was going through without trying to ignore it or push it down. To not rush the process. To learn to sit in the hurt. To find acceptance and love for myself at a time when I had never felt so defeated.
A year and a half later and I am still recovering from that fall. It has been the most difficult and painful physical injury I have ever had to deal with. Much like my divorce has been the most difficult and painful emotional injury I have ever had to deal with. I've learned that things like this take a substantial amount of time to heal from. And that it's okay when things don't heal as fast as you want them to.
I still get nervous when I go down a steep set of stairs. And I still cling onto the handrails in fear of falling again. But I know now that it’s okay to fall. It’s okay to lose your balance sometimes. What matters more is that you keep getting back up. That you don’t judge yourself for not being where you want to be. That you find strength in your own turmoil. And that you learn to value those humbling moments when you realize you need to move in a different direction.