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.

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6 Comments on “Entering the Well: the Down Part of Healing

  1. Rest honey it will all be ok. You are perfect as you are. Just give over to being down and healing. You are mending. 🙏💞

  2. Yes, it is a time for rest and healing. And yes, you will feel better emotionally as your body continues to heal physically. Surgery is a big physical and energetic disruption. I’ve had several, and it’s hard to stay “up” when our body feels so down and so unfamiliar. Hard not to fear you’ll always feel like you do now. But you won’t. Just as your skin and legs and hips will feel different, as the scars will heal, so will the sense of being in the well change. Remember, too, that wells are filled w life giving water. Maybe sometimes we have to go down there to be replenished. Your post is beautifully written. Thank you fir sharing it. Sending lots of love. And a big dose of patience***

  3. Thank you, Donna. Thank you for the reminder . . . replenishment . . . yes. And I’m glad you enjoyed the writing! That means a lot. Love to you.

  4. I wish I wrote this. The ending is particularly moving. I feel it. I’m going to revisit this over and over.