January has passed, and in my spirit, I feel as if 2022 has already been a long year. On December 14th I sustained an injury to my left shin that left a baseball sized hematoma that is impinging on the two muscles that enable the ankle to move, leaving me unable to walk without crutches. It took almost 4 weeks for my medical team to realize the urgency in reducing the hematoma and freeing the muscles to my ankle. I was referred to physical therapy and their sense of urgency was encouraging—I can now see a shorter horizon to regaining my ability to walk again with ease.

Before December 14th, I was focused on the holidays, staying safe from COVID, and taking time to rejuvenate and get ready for 2022. After December 14th, my focus totally shifted to survival, and I had to ask for help to do everything. Living alone on the third floor and with a dog, I couldn’t walk my dog or go outside because I would have to walk up and down three flights of steps. I also had to cancel all my Christmas plans. Within 24 hours, my entire focus shifted. Not only was I dependent on others to help me with day-to-day living, I had no idea how long it would take to heal. I was making some progress after starting physical therapy, then I tested positive for COVID on January 18th and was in isolation and very sick.

As I write this, I am on the mend and reflecting back on what I learned over these last two months. First, I am aware that how I viewed this situation impacted my response to it. When in pain, feeling vulnerable and in need of help, it was easy to feel sorry for myself or to be stoic and not allow others to help. I was programmed early in life to be stoic and figure it out myself, but in this situation, there was no way I could do that. I needed help, and I had to learn to receive it. With each kindness given by someone, I found myself feeling enriched and nourished. Gratitude arose and friendships strengthened. I became more honest with myself about what I needed, and each gift from someone was received with abundant gratitude. My neighbor took my dog, Lucky, every night for 5 weeks, to walk him at night and then in the morning. One of my Living School colleagues delivered a bag full of hand-selected meals for me. Several members of my church community went grocery shopping and picked up medications at the pharmacy. I received notes and cards, and one individual gave me an envelope to open for 7 days with an inspirational message. Mary Anne called me daily and asked, “What do you need?” All in all, what I found is that my community and heart expanded during these 2 months—an unexpected gift that I would never have expected nor seen if I had hunkered down and refused to admit I needed help.

Second, knowing when to advocate for yourself is a learned skill. As an Enneagram Nine, my programming was to not be a bother, to not impose myself on others, and to not be seen as needy. This resulted in a very high tolerance level for pain (waiting it out) and a strong ability to discount my body’s need for attention. As I sat at the end of week 3 unable to walk, I could feel the anger rising in me that no one was listening to me about the seriousness of the injury. Exploring the anger, I heard a part of me ask, “Why don’t you fight for yourself? It is time to get in there and fight for yourself!” That is the power of anger for this Nine. If I sit with it long enough, my truth emerges, and I know exactly what I need to do. As Helen Palmer, my Enneagram teacher, said years ago, “Anger is the path to self-remembering.” It sure has been for me, and I was reminded that only I can advocate for myself.

Lastly, while these past 2 months have felt like an eternity coupled with the last 2 years of COVID, keeping a longer view of one’s life helps to put difficult times into perspective. That doesn’t mean that you discount these times or invalidate what you have experienced and are experiencing, but it does help to know that “this, too, shall pass.” While this sounds cliche, I have been reminded of the truth of this statement over my lifetime.

I’m still dealing with my leg issue, and that will continue until it heals. I am doing all I can to progress the healing, and now it is up to my body to do its job. I can’t rush it or will it to be over. What I can do is keep my heart open and continue to stay connected to my community, listen more closely to what is going on for me in the moment, and be honest with myself and others as to what I need and how they can help. Hardest of all, I can be patient with my body and remember that, in time, “This, too, shall pass.”

A final note—as January ended, I craved the turning of the year ritual, and so I decided I would celebrate my New Year’s with the Chinese/Lunar New Year which occurred on February 1. On January 31, I ordered Chinese food, settled in to bring in the New Year, had a glass of wine to welcome it in, and woke up on my New Year’s Day feeling lighter and ready to enter 2022. On February 15th, I will participate in the Lantern Festival which marks the end of the New Year celebrations. These intentional acts have helped me mark an ending and a beginning, which I now realize is so important when facing into and moving out of challenging times.

Well, that’s my story. We’d love to hear the lessons you have learned during a challenging time. Please share them with us on our Facebook page.

Theresa Gale