For 14 months, I have been struggling with an ankle injury. It's been a long saga with many ups and downs. I've seen 5 orthopedic specialists and 4 physical therapists; undergone countless tests, including XRays, MRIs, bone scans, blood tests, etc.; worn a cast, brace, and all types of bandages; used a cane, crutches, and a wheelchair to get around. And the real kicker is that until last month, my doctors still could not diagnose what was actually wrong with my ankle. There were no answers for an entire year! The only thing that I knew for sure was that something was very wrong.
This whole ordeal has tested me in more ways than I'd like to admit. And, thankfully, it has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I've had a lot of time to reflect over the past year and I recently wrote the following:
This injury came at a pivotal moment. Only months before, when I was expecting to celebrate my 5 year anniversary of recovery from an eating disorder, I was instead battling a relapse. I had just changed my entire artistic practice, entered into performance art, and doubted my ability to succeed at this. I was keeping the busiest schedule I could in order to avoid being present. Life was passing me by and I was losing my grip on reality.
What made this time different than past relapses? I had a support system like never before. I took them for granted and often pushed them away but they didn't give up on me. On some level, I knew something was wrong and instead of denying it, I allowed myself to be vulnerable around them.
Just as soon as I got back on track with my recovery, I began to feel the creeping pain working its way into my ankle. When I finally started to acknowledge the extent of this injury, I went through the process of grieving: denial, anger, isolation, depression, all of it. I slowly realized I had two options:
Dwell on the things I had done wrong to injure myself in the first place and remain angry that my body had betrayed me, or
Surrender to the injury and learn the lessons it's trying to teach me
So I surrendered, I listened, I learned, and I continue to do each of these today as I heal. Here is the most important lesson I've learned from all of this:
Sometimes progress means taking three steps backwards so you have the chance to recommit to your path. The best thing to come out of this is that I have recommitted to recovery. Recovery from all self-harm behaviors no matter how subtle or dramatic. I've reaffirmed my confidence in my decision to choose to live and to recover. There have been so many parallels between recovering from this injury and from my eating disorder, truly too many to count. They have both caused me much mental and physical harm; wrecked relationships; caused my friends and family pain and suffering; created countless obstacles to overcome; and, at times, made it simply unbearable to live. But they have both taught me to love myself as I truly am, unconditionally; to honor my sense of self worth, to dedicate myself to spreading love and light; and live as the most authenticate version of myself. They've nearly killed me, and certainly created lifelong struggles yet I woiuldn't change a thing.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this amazing, excruciating and transformative journey. I am grateful for all of you.