My body has waged war on me.
Now, there is nothing serious afoot. Please withhold flowers and singing cookiegrams (although I would graciously take them). I understand that I am probably encroaching on clickbait-style headlines with that start (was this fake news? I don’t know), but sometimes you have to grab them by the cojones and reel them in. Get the eyeballs focused. Feed the soul fire.
The tally so far: Bad back. Partially strained calf. Plantar Fasciitis. Ankle issues. And now a hand/wrist deal which makes turning a doorknob (or any other Higher Power? Just kidding. Don’t email me) a painful experience. I’m iced up more than a spring break daiquiri. I have more wraps and bandages on me than a catastrophe movie extra. It’s frustrating and it makes we want to howl at the moon (but with my luck, I would damage my vocal chords and pull a jaw muscle).
My injuries have halted my running for the last month or so. I can ride my bike, which I am grateful for, but biking is just transportation for me. It’s not “real” exercise, that is, it doesn’t give me the satisfaction of a good sweat and a washing of the brain that I am often in need of. The lack of running has been affecting my mental health and it has brought me down into the tiny dark spaces where my self-pity pokes me with a stick, wanting to play catch for a while.
I am limited in my alternatives. I don’t swim. I don’t enjoy the gym or yoga. I don’t have the time nor the compulsion to go to any sort of class like spinning, pig tossing or ballet. I don’t have room in my house for a bike trainer or elliptical machine. It’s like the universe has been testing me to see what I will come up with instead. But what I have realized is that what I have been doing a lot of is fighting and resisting this all. Shadow boxing my view of myself and the world has been my new cardio.
I also haven’t been practicing acceptance.
We hear the word acceptance a lot in recovery and spiritual circles. The serenity prayer asks us to have the courage to accept the things we cannot change. Many texts and speakers of faith and spirituality speak on acceptance as a way of overcoming and as a way to forgiveness. It took me time to understand acceptance. I thought it was just a way of shrugging my shoulders and saying “oh well” like a part-time Best Buy employee about to go on break. That it was yet another way to be walked over and to acquiesce to others and to be a weak-assed wuss. Acceptance is not at all what I thought.
Acceptance is the choice to see things as they truly are, to see the positives in it, and the gain a peaceful state of mind. I cannot change the past nor the present, but I can accept it. It doesn’t mean I condone or particularly like what happened or is happening, but it means that I understand it to be what it is. I am not engaged in trying to warp my view or other’s views to conform to my ego’s idea of how the world should be. It’s the knowledge that there is so much out of my control, but it’s how I react to those things which determine my level of happiness.
So accepting something isn’t the same as lying on the ground and letting people walk over you. There are times when I need to take action against something, to enforce personal boundaries, or to let someone have a piece of my mind (hopefully the part that makes me want to eat a box of donuts in one shot – I can do without that). Acceptance is not being a bystander while other suffer knowing we are able to help. Acceptance is not withholding ourselves to others.
So in the case of my ailing body, I fought the idea that I could be injured. How dare I get hurt? I am special, don’t you know? And why don’t all those other runners get hurt? Why is it only me? I started to resent others and their healthy streaks. My ego chirped away, telling me that I’m weak, that I shouldn’t have started my health kick in the first place, and why not just just shut up and sit down and eat tacos like it’s an Olympic sport? My pride piped up, telling me that I will fall down again soon, and that I will look stupid starting up my running yet again for the 15th time. So let’s just see how high we can make that scale number go, shall we, tubby?
What has helped me is to practice more acceptance. I have had to accept many things here: that I’m not as young as I used to be and my body is changing; that I don’t do anything preventative like strength training or stretching and that makes a difference to people my age; that I discount the hard work that others do and that it doesn’t always come as easy to others as I think it does. I have had to understand that I have a long way to go in my life, and that I need to figure out how to keep the mind-body-spirit connection going. Not doing so dishonours this new second life of mine given to me in recovery. It also drives me and my family batty when I get grumpy.
I love what Eckhart Tolle says about acceptance: “Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” The idea of living life as if I had chosen it is trippy and groovy. So I have to act as if I chose to lose my job? I have to act as if I chose to get into an accident? I have to act as if I chose to get arrested? Well my little pumpkin, that’s quite a stretch. But having done this before, I can say that it works. It really does.
When I accept (and again, I may not like what has happened, but that’s not the point), I gain freedom. When I understand that there is probably a reason for whatever it is that bothers me, then I see things differently. When I stop raging against the machine, then I save my energy for more important and positive things. It’s not easy, but it works. It gives me a deeper understanding of myself and also deepens my connection with the Creator.
So I have been accepting that I may not be able to run the way I want to. That I may not run another marathon. That I may have to stick to short runs and keep it that way forevermore. And that has taken the pressure off of me. It’s been a big help. I also am accepting that I may have to investigate the very activities I claim to hate – like stretching and swimming. My acceptance to my situation has opened me up to other suggestions, one of which was Nordic walking. I had never considered this option, but before I knew it, I had a pair of poles in my hands and have gone out once so far. It’s different, and I am not sure what to think of it right now, but I will be going again. Who knows, it may be my “thing”. But it only came from acceptance. It was opening my mind to alternatives which brought me to it.
There is a very well known excerpt from a story called “Acceptance is the Key”, found in the Big Book, which is:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”
My acceptance of being an alcoholic brought me to the realization that I didn’t have to live that life any more. My acceptance of it was literally the first step to a new way of living. I have to practice that acceptance daily. It keeps me on the path. It shuts up the voice which occasionally whispers “hey, a beer would be good right about now, eh?” Acceptance keeps me in humility. The moment I accepted that I could never drink again, a new path was created for me. One which I walk to this day.
Even if I am Nordic walking it.