When the Only Way Forward Is to Go Backward

“How are your legs doing?’ another friend asks, knowing that my (knock on wood) final procedures have now been completed.

I find it difficult to answer. The increase in pain and swelling that follows the procedures has now faded, but I am still months away from any improvement.

Because the only way to move the functioning of my legs forward is first to take a step (or several) backward.

The medical term for my diagnosis is venous insufficiency, which basically means that the veins that are responsible for carrying blood back to the heart from my legs aren’t doing their job. Veins rely on a series of valves which close tightly to prevent blood from flowing back down. My valves, instead of being secure doors slamming shut are slack and droopy curtains that do nothing to aid my blood in its battle against gravity to return to the heart. The result? Swollen, painful and tired legs.

The current pathways are faulty and cannot be repaired. There is no amount of exercise or lifestyle change that will provoke my veins to function as they should. The only solution is to remove the malfunctioning vessels and then to allow the body to grow new and healthy routes.

In the short-term, the problem is made worse. After all, minimally functioning veins are better than no veins at all. The swelling is more prominent, the pain and fatigue more pronounced. But in time, improvement is slowly found and optimal functioning is reached.

Backwards to go forwards.


Sometimes relationships develop their own faulty pathways. A suboptimal way of interacting or relating that is laid down out of habit or inattention. As a result, flow is interrupted and there is a backlog of negativity, leading to pain and the swelling of critical feelings.

And sometimes no amount of attention and exercises can modify those malfunctioning patterns. And the best thing to do is to strip them away and to start fresh, relaying new and ideally, healthier, connections.

Backwards to go forwards.

It seems a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But then again, how much of our suffering in life comes not from our situations, but from our resistance to them? Maybe instead of fighting against an obstacle, we can be better served by finding an alternate course.

Much like a zipper whose teeth are misaligned has to be backed up before it can continue on, a relationship on the wrong path has to be reversed and straightened before continuing. To attempt forward progress without proper alignment only serves to jam the zipper. Perhaps causing irreversible damage.

Instead, a deliberate and careful reversal of course along with careful attention can change the outcome, bringing the two halves together. And in alignment.

Backwards to go forwards.

Going backwards feels unnatural. Often it can be painful. We grow accustomed to the pathways we have developed and even malfunctioning connections feel better than the temporary absence of attachments.

It’s easy to panic, to lose faith in the intention and the process. To think that a step back is permanent and doomed to become an unstoppable landslide.

Which is why is so important to hold a long view. To accept some discomfort today in the belief that it will lead to a better tomorrow. To focus more on the rebuilding than on the dismantling. To trust that new pathways can be forged and with them, more understanding and compassion.

To believe that sometimes the only way forward is to go backward.

And to be grateful for the opportunity to try again.

Thank you for sharing!

15 thoughts on “When the Only Way Forward Is to Go Backward

  1. David & Laura Speer – United States – Were a Metro Detroit, Michigan, couple – second marriages for both of us – and we dream of retiring early to Travel the World. Follow us while we try and figure out to raise our kids, and save to retire. David is a Robot Programmer, Laura is a Medical Physicist. We put our kids before ourselves for years, saved and ate at home and now after years of all this sacrifice and raising our kids - we are closing in on empty nesting, and we realized we have the opportunity to retire earlier than most and follow our dreams to travel the world. How are we going to do this? Well we have a lot of ideas, but lets see how it works out. Our original retirement date was January 1, 2021. We are reviewing the option of working another 3 years but prefer to keep the 2021 date, either way we will be retired by 55 years old - still trying to figure out how, but working toward our goal everyday, while enjoying each other and our blended family. Follow us to see what happens. All images on this blog are copyright (c)
    Laura (I Can Do It) says:

    Don’t be surprised if an ex contacts you during this time, they seem to do that. Be strong. Prayers to you for quick healing.

      1. David & Laura Speer – United States – Were a Metro Detroit, Michigan, couple – second marriages for both of us – and we dream of retiring early to Travel the World. Follow us while we try and figure out to raise our kids, and save to retire. David is a Robot Programmer, Laura is a Medical Physicist. We put our kids before ourselves for years, saved and ate at home and now after years of all this sacrifice and raising our kids - we are closing in on empty nesting, and we realized we have the opportunity to retire earlier than most and follow our dreams to travel the world. How are we going to do this? Well we have a lot of ideas, but lets see how it works out. Our original retirement date was January 1, 2021. We are reviewing the option of working another 3 years but prefer to keep the 2021 date, either way we will be retired by 55 years old - still trying to figure out how, but working toward our goal everyday, while enjoying each other and our blended family. Follow us to see what happens. All images on this blog are copyright (c)
        Laura (I Can Do It) says:

        I just know my kids called my ex when I was sick and he came over and tried to work his way back into our lives (while we were separated but not divorced, and he was dating others of course). I also have a girlfriend that during her divorce her ex came over when she was sick to care for her, so it could happen.

  2. Mary Lou – I'm still here and loving it! Nostalgia isn't my all-time favorite past time. I like to live in the present and look forward. When you reach a certain point in life it's good to look back and review this journey with new eyes ~ in a different place in time. I've arrived at a place in my life where the experiences I've had are coming together to form a collage of beauty and strength. A time where I can put a little more time into my love for water color painting and writing. Creating this website allows me to share some of the expressions of my gratitude and amazement of where this journey has taken me. It's my hope that it will encourage others to share their own story through written word and art.
    Mary Lou says:

    Love how you connected the ‘blood flow’ problem with the ‘life flow’ problem! (BTW, I had EVLT too! Four years ago and it worked like a charm. New pathways 🙂 )
    https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/

    1. I hope it didn’t take 4 years to feel better!! Glad it helped you!!

      I’m hurting right now after really overdoing it during fall break. Apparently running 30 miles and hiking 15 in a week isn’t good when you’re still healing. Whoops! Lesson learned (again). Healing can’t be rushed.

      1. Mary Lou – I'm still here and loving it! Nostalgia isn't my all-time favorite past time. I like to live in the present and look forward. When you reach a certain point in life it's good to look back and review this journey with new eyes ~ in a different place in time. I've arrived at a place in my life where the experiences I've had are coming together to form a collage of beauty and strength. A time where I can put a little more time into my love for water color painting and writing. Creating this website allows me to share some of the expressions of my gratitude and amazement of where this journey has taken me. It's my hope that it will encourage others to share their own story through written word and art.
        Mary Lou says:

        Being active is the way to heal. I found standing in one place for a long time isn’t good at all. Just rest when your body tells you to. It gets better! 🙂

  3. I really like your ending, “be grateful for the opportunity to try again”. I chose to be happy as I too go back to move forward.

  4. A Familiar Stranger – Middlesbrough, North East England – My name is Matthew Williams, single father to two wonderful children, making it up as I go along. I am a blogger and author. I started my blog, Love, Laughter & Truth, in December 2015 as I attempted to make sense of my rollercoaster life following depression, divorce, and my introduction to the weird world of dating. My first book, Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating & Depression, was published in paperback by Sixth Element Publishing in December 2017, and is available to buy on Amazon. You can find my writing at https://lovelaughtertruthblog.com/ I hope to see you there!. Very best wishes Matthew
    Love, Laughter & Truth says:

    Great post again. I hope you feel better soon. The lessons you draw here ring so true and taking the long view is definitely something I need to try and focus on more as a way of dealing with disappointments.

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