Lanterns: The Tao of a Broken Foot: Life Lessons from an Injured Control Freak


The Tao of a Broken Foot: Life Lessons from an Injured Control Freak

Replaying the night I broke my foot, I still shake my head in disbelief.  I was at a Friendsgiving party the night before Turkey Day.  Sick with a lingering cold, I mustered up the energy to throw on a flannel and head out to enjoy the evening with friends.  Always the fashionista, I had to wear my new 5-inch thigh high boots because my nickname is "Diva."  How could I dare disappoint the imaginary fans in my head by wearing flats?  Perish the thought!  Off to the party I went in my uncomfortable, ridiculous, fashionable footwear that made me strut like Beyonce and fall like a newborn calf on ice skates. 

Someone accidentally let the dog out and the frightened pup that didn't enjoy a house full of strangers, and he bolted down the street.  Being the biggest dog person on the planet, I didn't hesitate to go out and search for the dog in the dark, cold night in my ridiculous, but chic boots.  I took ten steps and hit a pothole with my left foot and tumbled to the ground.  I heard a snap and I knew this was bad.  I could only utter the sound "ugh" knowing in my gut that I really stepped in it this time, no pun intended.   

A fractured cuboid bone has forced me to dig deep and find my inner Zen.  I'm a control freak used to going 95 MPH at all times.  As I literally sit and convalesce, I am forced to ponder the lessons I have learned in the last two weeks, and I'm all too happy to share my broken foot wisdom.  

 I would be lying if I didn't come clean and admit that I had a bit of a pity party the first couple of days into my recovery.  I'm the consummate Type-A perfectionist who loves to work and never slows down.  I’m scheduled to the minute, and I micro-manage every second of those minutes.  Being forced to miss work, the gym, social engagements, opportunities, and the like is a fate worse than death for someone of my ilk.  With a personality being a study in duality, my spiritual side took over the control-freak.  Challenging as it was, I was forced to take an introspective look and ask, "What is the lesson I am supposed to learn in this challenge?"  In the quiet, I found some answers.  

1)  Things don't happen TO you; they happen FOR you:  Being off your feet with an active mind is dangerous as it forces one to be honest with themselves.  I couldn't hide behind a veneer of busyness anymore; I was burying some emotional pain and I needed to make peace.  I had gone through a recent personal loss and it still hurt.  I did what most people do; I dealt with the emotional pain by keeping myself too busy to feel bad.  Now I was forced to make peace with that void and it wasn't pretty; I couldn't escape the negative, pessimistic emotions by working out or going out.  I just had to deal. 

After crying an ocean of tears, I developed the philosophy, "Things don't happen TO you; they happen FOR you".  My broken foot happened FOR me so that I would make amends with what was really broken in my body: my heart.  That loss didn't happen TO me; it happened FOR me because it had run its course and if it was to bring me to my destiny, God would not have helped it to end. I am applying this philosophy to all of my disappointments and it has truly helped me to heal. 

2)  It's all on God's time and not our own:  My orthopedist is a good-looking man.  I am not trying to get a date out of my doctor's appointments, but I'm visually enjoying my twice-a-week ultrasounds and wrapping of my foot.  Doctor Dreamy also has a no-nonsense attitude and doesn't have time for my denial.  On the first visit, the doctor said, "you're going to be out of commission for 6 weeks."  I replied, "So we're going to take it week-by-week and hopefully by next week I can walk on it and be back to work and light gym, right?"  He laughed and his piercing green eyes looked into mine and said, "I'm not playing your game. I said 6 weeks.  You're under house arrest until January, or unless you have a miraculous ability to heal bone."  I have felt just as the doctor described: "under house arrest."   

Throughout the entirety of my life, I've been trying to make life happen on my terms, in my time.  As a result, I haven't achieved most of the dreams placed in my heart.  Fighting God's timing is futile; He has reasons for timing events that we could never understand. Our earthly minds want what we want when we want it!  Swimming upstream against the current is the fastest way to get nowhere and that's how I had been existing in some areas of my life.  The goals in my life where I just relaxed, let go, and adopted a "go with the flow" attitude have manifested with little effort.  Who knows where I would be had I only trusted in the natural rhythm of life and not fought it every step of the way?   

The process of healing a bone takes time and my own efforts will not make the process go any faster.  Bone heals in four distinct stages and cannot be rushed.  I can help my healing by eating lots of protein and taking Calcium with Vitamin D; but there's no mysterious shortcut to building bone.  As a broken bone knits together in its own time, so do my hopes and dreams.  I can take productive action to work towards what I want, but ultimately God decides when it is the right time for those dreams to spring to life.  Sometimes you just need to trust and let life work its own brand of magic.  It all works out for the best in the end. 

3) Accept Kindness: As an independent woman, I've trained myself to never need help.  Not only am I dreadful at asking for help, I am even worse at receiving it.  Having taught children for over 20 years, I was the one that thousands of children have sought out for help throughout the years.  If they needed me to explain a concept, I helped.  If they needed a friendly ear because they were having a problem, I helped.  If they needed lunch money, I helped.  Now I was the one that needed help with just about everything you could imagine: getting up and down the stairs on crutches, showering, getting my medicine from the pharmacy, making coffee.  I needed help with everything and it was humbling to ask for and receive it. 

The second day of my broken foot hostage situation, I decided to feed the dog on my own.  Using a knee scooter, I peddled into the kitchen to prepare her meal and wiped out reaching for a dish.  I pulled the dish, the dog food, and the scooter on top of myself and needed to call for reinforcements.  I couldn't fake being the "strong, independent woman;" I had to accept help.  

Political punditry is inherently a negative discipline.  I pretty much fight, debate, and fend off Internet trolls on a daily basis.  It was nice to see the best in people being laid up off my feet. Most people are genuinely kind and offered help, support, and encouragement.  Family and friends brought over groceries, drove me to doctor's appointments, and entertained me when boredom would creep in making me feel isolated.  Now I'm learning how to do tasks on my own, but, I am better at asking for help and have learned my limitations.  My view of people has shifted for the better, and I learned you aren’t weak if you need a helping hand.

Two weeks down and four weeks left in my ugly orthotic boot, but I have gained perspective and wisdom.  I know it’s just a broken foot and not a terminal disease, even though I acted like the world was ending for a couple of days.  Life is funny; if you don’t learn the lessons you’re supposed to learn, life will MAKE you learn them no matter how much control you have over your every move. 

So, slow down, feel the yucky feelings to process them, go with the flow, and recognize most people are good-hearted.  See you on the dance floor in four weeks!

Written by Traci Belmonte

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