“What if it ain’t okay? How are you going to handle it?”
I sat in the crowded movie theater yesterday and listened as my favorite movie character of ALL time, Rocky Balboa, said those words to his godson, and boxing protege, Adonis Creed. Adonis, who had just become a new father, was having to face the reality that his newborn daughter may be deaf.
My whole life I have been a Rocky fan. Perhaps it is the rise of the underdog. Maybe its the thrill of the fight that ensues. But whatever the reason, in each and every movie, there always comes a lesson that leaves me thinking and feeling inspired.
When I agreed to write about my journey as I recover from my torn fascia, I made the promise to be real…even if things got ugly. I just never dreamed that when I made that agreement, the ugly would come so quickly.
Last week I had an amazing hike, and made some great strides into getting back to where I want to be. After gaining some much needed confidence, I made plans to hike today and finish a section of the Smokies in my quest to hike every trail in the GSMNP. The hike is just 12 miles with around 3000 feet in elevation gain and loss. While before my injury this would have seemed like a fairly easy hike, now recovering from such a painful and deep injury, it was a MAJOR deal. After last weeks success, I was feeling fairly strong.
But then came Thursday. One of my hiking companions got a better offer and decided to back out of our hike. The act wasn’t a major deal, but suddenly I started questioning that maybe perhaps she knew I wasn’t ready. Perhaps she didn’t want to be a part of my epic failure.
Can we say paranoid?
While I knew this was NOT the case, I suddenly began to question whether taking on such a hike was good idea. For the next three days I wrestled with what to do. What if I couldn’t make it? What if I got up the mountain and something happened and I had to once again hike several miles in mind-blowing pain? I honestly don’t think I could muster enough strength to do that again.
This conversation was a constant for three straight days. Then this morning, I awoke at 12:30 am in a full battle with a panic attack. I was anxious, nervous, and inconsolable. My mind was going a thousand different directions and I could not control it, which was a little freaky to me. For the next four hours I pleaded with God and my own mind. Finally at 4:30 I texted my best friend and bailed on the hike.
I gave up.
Then I started thinking about the conversation between Rocky and Adonis.
Adonis, was facing a ton of uncertainty with the difficulties of raising a special needs child and the looming failure of the fight he had just fought in the boxing ring. It was all overwhelming. When Rocky asked how he was coping, he responded with the simple response, “It will be okay.”
Isn’t that how we always answer when we want to ignore the challenges in front of us? Instead of dealing with it, we push it so far down we hope it disappears. Then we convince ourselves all will be okay. It’s just what we do.
But Rocky knew that the issue at hand might have a negative outcome. He knew that Adonis had to be prepared to travel a road that could possibly become even more treacherous and unstable.
For the past couple of months as I have fought to recover, I’ve been convincing myself that it’s okay. That I’M okay. When I injured my other foot two years ago the recovery was so easy and effortless, but this fascia tear, it is a whole different beast. There are days I feel like I could hike twenty miles, and then there are days I struggle to walk from kitchen to the dining room table.
I went into the recovery and therapy process thinking it would be like last time. My doctor, therapist, family, and friends, all tried to remind me that this injury was more severe than before. This time I didn’t just have physical hurdles to jump over, but mental ones as well. But I convinced myself despite everything that happened, I was okay. That I would bounce back quick and hard.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
This is hard. This is painful. And this scary.
With each small victory comes the realization, that this mountain I am climbing is incredibly steep and long. I am learning that I have limits, and weaknesses that weren’t there three months ago. I am also learning that it is okay for me not to be okay. That I need other people to help me and push me. Pretending that everything is fine and that I am fine, is not getting me anywhere.
So today was a bad day. Today fear won. Tomorrow may not be okay either, but I will face it. I may not know what lies ahead, and there could be more hurdles left for me to climb over, but I do know the One who holds tomorrow and that is where I chose to place my hope and and from where I will draw my strength. I don’t have to be okay, I just have to trust.
This is real life friends. We learn not just from our victories, but also our setbacks. Maybe someone reading this needs to know they are not alone. That the journey that lies before them is not as scary and looming as it seems. That it is okay to not be okay.