February 11

HOPE MONTH: DAY 11: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” ― Barack Obama

When I write this date in the early morning, it stops my heart for a moment. It will always do that, I suppose. Not as hurtful as it once was, but it is the anniversary of the morning when my husband died. That has never left me.

This quote could have been the thing I knew instinctively to do when that occurred. I spent so much time just “doing” for a while. I did not know how to sit with it for a few months, so I kept going. I worked out, I hiked, I did a lot of service. Then my fractured neck broke more fully, and I could not “DO” anything. I could not sit for more than 20 or 30 minutes, so I would get up and pace. I could not drive or lift or lay down. I could only walk very slowly for a few minutes, then rest. It was painful and I would cry and scream and pace and sit and get up and do more. My arms were pretty useless, so I would try to be with my dogs, but they hurt me.

I remember wanting to “DO” things again. I was told I might not ever recover any further than what I was doing. For several months, this was all I had. The best service I could perform was to sit and talk with my sponsees and friends…then we would pace together. I got to manifest a lot of good stuff in that time with these people. And I had hope, because I refused to give up, even when doctors told me I could never do a lot of things again. I did not allow that. I researched alternative therapies and diet. I began to lay on the floor and move my legs and arms a bit more each day. And I got to feel what that sadness was I could not allow when Jose first died.

Such a gift, even though I did not know it. Then, one day, I was giving myself some Reiki and I was able to lift my right arm high enough to put it on my neck. And I could pet my dogs, who were so lonely also. They lost their person too, and then me as well. So, I could be with them a bit more.

And now I could cook food and clean my home. Yay! And my diet got better as I could now walk in the market when my neighbor gave me a ride there. About 3 months in, and I could lay down for more than an hour and sleep. I love sleep!

And I worked with some other folks I met who were crippled like me and I began to go out and show them the things I had learned. And, just like recovery, what I needed to learn was what I got to teach. I found a yoga therapist who gave me good skills in moving my body in more mindful ways and how to breathe into pain rather than fighting it. And I began to heal. Six months in, I enrolled in school and began to do that.

Before I knew it, I was doing regular walking again, driving a car, all the stuff they said would not be possible. It took a long time, always with a neck brace on, and then it was gone as well. For a couple of years, I had to curtail a great deal of my regular activity. Today, it is possible for me to do most things, although I will not have great upper body strength again. I have learned to let that go, along with some of the things I no longer risk doing. Riding motorcycles, surfing…a few other things I once enjoyed. Nearly every day, I write a gratitude letter to my healthy body and thank it for showing me how to care for it more carefully and finding a path to greater health. I was not appreciative, and it taught me how to be that. I am happy and grateful when I can drive on a road trip, when I can move my arms and type. I can sleep and lay down…so many things. I focus on what I have, never on what I lost. The same thing with the heart-stopping realization that my husband’s death anniversary is here. I wrote 3 pages of things that I love about what he brought to my life, rather than crying because he left. I am so eternally blessed that he stepped into my life and changed it all. What a gift he brought and continues to bring! I hope I remember to open his gifts every day…

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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