Sprained

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If I ever hear one more person say, “Just get over it,” I am going to scream.

Loudly.

I’m warning you now so that you have time to buy earplugs.

I have a little story, an analogy (I know, shocking!), to help the getoverers understand why there are some things you don’t just simply get over. Feel free to share this with anyone who tells you to get over it. And then scream if needed.

Fifteen years ago, during my first winter in Atlanta, I slipped on ice while taking the garbage out to the apartment dumpster and sprained my ankle in the process. Since I’m a Type A personality, it was a Type A sprain, bad enough that the physical therapist I worked for at the time added me to the therapy rotation. Rehab was pretty intense for the first few months. For the next year or so, the injury was always on my mind due to chronic pain and instability. I wore a brace of some sort for most of that time.

As time went by, the injury became less apparent and the brace went into a drawer. But the injury is still there. Every time I take a balance pose in yoga on that side, I have to focus to keep the ankle from collapsing. Whenever my mileage increases with running, I develop biomechanical issues on that side because my hip has to compensate for the wobblyness of the ankle. And, the worst part, is that my ankle is prone to further injury. It’s as though it carries a memory of the trauma in the soft tissue and becomes damaged again with only minor assault.

I haven’t let my ankle slow me down. I wear high heels. I run marathons. I master balance poses in yoga. The vast majority of people in my life don’t even know that the whispers of an old injury lie beneath the scarless skin.

But even though I can still live a full life, I can’t simply get over the injury and pretend it never happened. It’s there. A part of me. I don’t have to give in to it yet I also have to accept that it exists and that it occasionally needs attention or support. The structure of that ankle has been changed. Permanently.

But even though I still limp sometimes, I can still kick ass. And that’s even better than simply getting over it.

Because it shows that I can take a licking and keep on ticking.

It shows that I refuse to turn my traumas into liabilities and limitations.

It shows that accepting weakness is a part of strength.

It shows that even though there are some things you don’t just get over, you don’t have to let them hold you back.

Here are the lessons I’ve learned from my ankle (who’s currently sobbing after a spill on a wet kitchen floor last week) and how they apply to “getting over” divorce:

Rehabilitation  The early and intensive rehabilitation on the ankle was critical and I am so thankful that I had the assistance of an expert. If those interventions had not occurred, it would have been a much slower healing process. In divorce, don’t be too shy or proud to call in the professionals in the beginning. Make taking care of yourself your job. It will pay dividends in the future.

Support At the beginning, my ankle was too weak to go unsupported. If I tried to walk without a brace, it would fold over and re-injure the damaged tissue. Yet I couldn’t cast it forever or it would never grow strong enough to stand on its own. It’s okay to wrap yourself in protective bandages after divorce yet make sure you remove them when ready. Struggle is what makes you strong.

Adaptation Once I realized that my ankle would always be weaker, I worked to strengthen the surrounding muscles. I learned what kind of shoes aggravated the injury and I avoided them. I became more aware of activities that were risky for re-injury and I added support or used caution. After divorce, your circumstances will change. Change with them.

Acceptance I could spend my days cursing my injured ankle. But honestly? I don’t even really think about it. It just is. It doesn’t stop me yet it also doesn’t allow itself to be ignored. But now addressing its needs is second nature. And that’s how divorce is too. It’s there. It doesn’t have to stop you yet it also will need attention at times. And that’s okay.   So next time somebody tells you to just get over it, tell them a little story about the little ankle that could. And then show them that you can still kick ass.

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15 thoughts on “Sprained

  1. In life if you don’t adapt, you die. No-one can tell you how to feel or for how long.
    You take it at your own pace, “Because it shows that I can take a licking and keep on ticking.” 🙂 That will be the result when you are ready. 😀

  2. Love the sprained ankle analogy; particularly since I used to sprain my ankles all the time as a kid – but I kept sprinting and the ankles eventually became stronger, more stable. 🙂 Anyhow, your story reminds me of some of the leftover crap I deal with now, at 40, from battling breast cancer in my late twenties and early thirties. Subtle reminders (scars, nerve damage, radiation side effects) are still present, and they can be frustrating at times, but they’ve never held me back and never will! 😉

  3. Love it! I have not had anyone tell me to get over it. I am considering my response if someone did……..I’m feeling it would be a negative response, maybe. Maybe not I have responded so differently to some things than I ever thought I would. You can’t fix stupid or insensitivity.

  4. Excellent analogy. Thanks so much for writing this. I’ve been there and done that, and have had to deal with people who are insensitive and/or ignorant of the way things are. There is a book titled “The Body Remembers” about how the body (and therefore the brain) remembers any deep trauma. (Like divorce!!)
    And you’re right. Even though we may not welcome the struggle, it is through surviving and maturing that we gain wisdom, and then we’re that much stronger for the next challenge.

    1. It is SO the body that remembers. When I saw my ex at a festival last year, my mind was really okay. The body? Anything but. I felt literally sick for almost 24 hours, trembling, nauseous, etc. I have also found that when I get anxious, it easier to treat the body first and let the mind follow.

      I love seeing how Cesar Millan uses this. He intentionally will place the dog’s head, tail or ears to mimic the desired behavior. And it works.

      Thanks for sharing the book:)

  5. I tore my ankle so bad that I have a twelve inch scar from where it was graphed and found you analogy interesting and although I would agree to an extent, there is the reality of one day putting a specific event in the past away.

    I came across your website during one of the evening that spouse have dealing with an adulterous spouse who was well on her way to using the sex in an effort to provoke me to abandon the marriage, family so she could coral the income she made and stashed during my years changing diapers and being a stay at home. I noticed your blog and story because it seemed as ugly as the one I was dealing with. I am fortunate to not be dewing with a divorce as the woman who I marriages who went to great lengths to set her self up well and divorce me was diagnosed terminal and died last year.

    Although my ankle had an ugly scar from surgery and the bone and tendons are misshapen and extremely sensitive, I rarely speak of it, have not reason, I know the scar is there, but just keep walking while avoiding objects and people who would irrigate that injury. I do believe there comes a time that the past is the past and now and the future is all that matters. There does come a time when one says, “it is over, it is dead, move on.” Injuries teaches one to watch and take care of ones bodies and it is a sad fact that too often people can cause injuries which are on the same level.

  6. Awesome analogy- thank you for sharing. I too sprained my ankle 16 years ago and while I don’t think about it daily, the scar tissue remains… and when I can’t do a particular bend or squat the way I want… I remember and am easier on myself as a result.

    1. Yup. It’s one of those things you don’t always think about yet it is impossible to forget all of the time.

      Think they’ll ever have ankle replacement surgery? Quick and painless, of course:)

  7. We never, ever get over injuries. Never. Whether those injuries are physical or otherwise. People who don’t understand that each and every injury leaves a calling card are cretins. My body is criss-crossed with scars, well over 300 stitches, well over 30 surgeries, two strokes that we know of, 50 grand mal seizures that we know of; the list goes on and on. The list of fall out from the injuries, well some are above of course and some are not. Those are just the physical, nevermind what it did to my emotional and spiritual. Recently I saw a meme:

    Just because I am strong enough to handle the pain doesn’t mean I deserve it.

    It is true. The other truth is, we either learn to work within and through our new realities or we crawl into our bed and stay there. While this might be tempting (it is), it is no way to live life. I cry every single time I am not doing what I should be doing to get passed the physical pain and back to the gym. The analogy you have used, too true. You inspire.

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