Entering the Well: the Down Part of Healing
I have to admit it’s been hard to write. Each morning for the last week, I’ve wanted to make a cheery post about how amazing it is to walk, how much stronger I am already, what a difference a week makes, how grateful I am. All of that is true and it’s not the whole picture.
I’m weaning off the pain medication and some hours of the day are really hard to get through. I lie down and grit my teeth until the alarm goes off and I can finally take that pill.
I’ve developed skin sensitivity along my outer thigh and hip. Just the sensation of my pants moving along my leg, or the weight of the comforter, is agony. I emailed my surgeon yesterday to ask about it, and he said to massage the area to start to desensitize the hyped-up nerve endings. I started doing that yesterday. I had some blood come out of a swollen part of my incision this morning as I pressed around it. That scared me.
I’ve been down for a couple of days now, like, really down. I want to think it’s a normal part of the healing process. It’s almost 3 weeks post surgery and the initial excitement to be through it and the willpower to keep moving and be a good patient is turning into fatigue and a waning of joy like water going down a drain. I’m an empty tub.
It’s tempting to fill the tub with thoughts about why this is happening, what I’m doing wrong, fears about my skin and incision, or even platitudes like this too shall pass, or one day at a time, or slow and steady wins the race. There’s something in me that so resists being empty. Gutted. Down.
Part of it is that when I was little and lonely, I made a decision to keep moving because as long as I’m doing something I won’t drown in the well of despair that caused the decision to keep moving in the first place. As a consequence, I’ve kept it moving basically my whole life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve given myself space to grieve, I’ve loved and felt a whole range of feelings. I haven’t been numb this whole time.
But while moving from one task to another, I piled more on my plate than I would ever be able to complete. This way I would never land in a feeling of completion or fulfillment. I think a part of me has known intuitively that the other side of fulfillment is emptiness, the wide-mouthed well there where it’s always been. To avoid falling in, I’ve largely stayed on this side of fulfillment by keeping myself perpetually in yearning. I love yearning. It’s such a rich place to hang out. It’s good food for poems and creativity in general. But as wonderful as it is, it’s not the whole cycle.
Maybe what I’m feeling is the permission to go into the well and stay there for a while. Maybe it’s the exhaustion of resisting it for so long. Maybe this need for a new hip was a communication from my body that now is the time to slow down, sink in, and fall through the well to a new ground of being where I so feel my connection with God that it fills up the loneliness that almost engulfed me as a child.
For now I don’t know much beyond I’m tired and scared that my incision could be infected. I want to be held. The sun feels good on my shoulder. I’m tired of trying to be good, tired of a life spent running from loneliness, tired of trying to prove myself the right person worthy of love. I don’t have the energy anymore. I’m chest deep and sinking. All I want to do right now is rest.