All I want for Christmas is…surgery
This year for Christmas, I hope for a new and improved right wrist.
The fall that broke my wrist in 2016 left me with daily pain and difficulty with the wrist attached to my dominant right hand. At least I’ve had a good excuse for my lousy penmanship! More importantly, in order to walk more than a few steps I need to use a cane in my right hand to balance out my damaged left leg. And of course I need both hands to propel my wheelchair. In other words, my right wrist is the linchpin to all of my independent mobility. Now it will have actual pins.
On Monday, December 23rd, an esteemed hand surgeon (you don’t want a greenhorn on their first rodeo) will perform the delicate and critical surgery to repair my wrist and ultimately heal the pain I’ve felt for the last three years. But first it has to hurt more.
Sometimes we have to hurt in order to heal.
I can’t even pretend to be wise here, but I do know from experience that in order to heal – whether it’s physical or mental – it sometimes has to hurt a whole lot more first. This applies equally to people and to organizations. Think of the company that has to radically downsize their workforce in order to become commercially healthy. Or the individual who has suffered quietly alone with depression, anxiety, or grief because they are afraid to be discovered as anything other than “merry and bright.”
It hurts to share our frailties, but it can also heal.
At the beginning of December, I attended the International Association of Fairs and Expositions annual convention in San Antonio, TX. One night at dinner, nerve pain shot randomly, rapidly and intensely up my left leg. I became frantic and barely remember forcing myself to smile and make polite small talk with people as I struggled to escape to my room as quickly as possible. Through the kindness of a small group of friends, I was cared for until I finally fell asleep. But I felt embarrassed. Deflated. Small.
It’s more fun to be the superhero than the weak alter ego. But that isn’t real.
We don’t want people to see our soft underbelly – unless you’re my dog, Belle. If she even remotely likes you, she wants you to see her soft underbelly as much as possible and rub it for hours. But I digress…. We don’t want people to see our vulnerabilities, our true humanity. We want to present a public image perfectly under our control.
Meanwhile, back in San Antonio –– I woke up the next morning with my leg better and my ego healed of pretension. The pain was a gift. My friends now see and understand me more genuinely and I trust them more deeply. It’s not a bad thing for people to occasionally see us fall down, make mistakes, suffer and even cry. Healthy relationships with others and with ourselves happen when we connect at the level of real humanity, not a pantomime of perfect people.
Be real and allow space for others to do the same.
To be honest, I’d far prefer to talk about resilience as if it’s a lesson that I learned many years ago and only had to learn once. But that just isn’t the case. This Christmas I have a chance to learn some more. What about you? There’s usually something painful about holiday family gatherings. That could give you an opportunity to practice. Just remember, although holiday mayhem may hurt a bit, it can heal hearts if you stay open to what really matters.
Consider it a gift worth wishing for.
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