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