It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog as I honestly haven’t felt propelled to in the slightest. But here we are reflecting a little on 2020 and the biggest takeaways.
When I reflect on 2020, it’s easy to hyper-focus on everything that went ‘wrong’ this year; there was a hell of a lot, including a pandemic that challenged everyone on a global scale.
Back in March, as the pandemic hit and I lost my freedom of movement and independence due to my broken ankle, I felt completely and utterly out of my depth. The physical and mental pain of these events were all-surrounding and even though I kept telling myself ‘day by day, you’ll get better; just get through each day and try your best’, I felt like I was slowly but surely swallowed by a morass of darkness. It all felt too much! Unable to move, far away from my family, and stripped of social interactions due to the pandemic, I felt incredibly lost, disconnected and like time was suddenly crawling along (which under normal circumstances would be amazing!).
During the initial weeks of my recovery, I was in constant pain, had trouble sleeping, and experienced flashbacks of the intense pain and sensation of my foot being detached from my body that made me incredibly anxious and sad. Once the docs gave me the ok to start weight-bearing (after 6 weeks), it was incredibly stressful and terrifying to actually stand on the foot that felt so foreign to me. To be honest, I feel torn saying I felt ‘post traumatic stress’ as I would never wish to compare it to more sever traumatising events experienced by other people, however, wrapping my head around the pain caused by the trauma and the myriad of emotions that followed (sadness, fear, frustration, lack of control and independence) was pretty hard.
Fast forward to the later part of the year as covid continued to change every aspect of life, I continued to adapt to my bionic ankle and started running after 95 days off, thanks to the incredible support from my physio Tyson at Movement Sports Clinic and Joel from RunUphill/SkiUphill. While I was yearning to run, it was again a very painful experience that triggered a lot of emotional baggage that left me feeling ‘broken’ once again and created an emotional ambivalence towards running. I love running, but I was literally scared of it and the mental exhaustion that came with it. Running itself felt unnatural and unrecognizable. If I didn’t consume copious amounts of sugar during a run, meltdowns and breakdowns were the new norm – and I didn’t like it. In fact, I was embarrassed and frustrated with myself for being so ‘close to the water’ and for not being able to better cope with the pain and discomfort. I kept pushing on as best as I could, trying to get back to my ‘normal’ life by racking up 100 km weeks and limping up and down mountains (25 new ones ticked off). It’s safe to say it has been a bumpy ride…
But 2020 has also come with some moments of profound growth, healing and joy which I would not have experienced and understood if it wasn’t in light of all these moments of hardship. I underwent a 2nd surgery to remove all the hardware in October, which has been a complete success and has helped tremendously in lifting the ‘fog’ and hopelessness, allowing me to heal and reconnect with my true self and my passion for movement. I’ve moved to a beautiful mountain community and experienced the unconditional support of an amazing human who has put up with the darker, duller, heavier version of myself. We have welcomed a little bunny from a pet shelter into our lives, who teaches me to enjoy the little moments in life again, and I’m ending off the year running and skiing and being cozied up in our new home in the mountains.
There is no doubt that everyone has been faced with challenges in one way or the other this year. It’s been a year of unravelling for all of us and my story of hardship is unique to me, of course, with my own experiences and takeaways. While I don’t believe that my story is special, I do hope that some of my takeaways may help others moving through difficult moments.
It’s ok not to be ok
Feel your feelings. The highs, but also the lows. Don’t just bury them and pretend they don’t exist. I’ve tried to disconnect myself from my emotional pain and put on a ‘happy’ face. Don’t get me wrong, I like to be happy but pushing aside sadness, frustration or any other emotion, thinking that it is somehow wrong or inadequate to feel this way doesn’t really help. These feelings will only grow stronger, and left me overwhelmed and believing that I couldn’t cope. Allowing yourself not to feel ok involves accepting all feelings and thoughts, and sitting with them (and learning from them) until they pass. And they will!
Nothing is permanent. Everything changes. People, emotions, circumstances and experiences come and go and this constant flow of change is both good and bad. Impermanence and the loss that comes with it is a strong reminder of how precious life is. Coming face-to-face with the fragility of my own body and the lives of so many people around the world isn’t comfortable or pleasant, but it’s an opportunity to awaken from a false believe that we have all the time in the world.
Move your body
Move your body in which ever way feels good to you. While our brain is the master controller, movement can affect the way we think and feel. During my recovery, I often was too exhausted to control my thoughts or look at a situation from another angle, but simply moving my body often rescued me by improving my mood and helping me cope with stress and anxiety. So, go for a walk in the sunshine, dance to your favourite music or do a sweaty workout to get those endorphins moving 😉
Acknowledge how far you’ve come
We often take what we have for granted (until we lose it). In our fast-paced environment, our racing, busy mind always focuses on what’s “next”… Getting caught up looking at where we should be, where we aren’t and where others are in comparison, we forget to take a step back and acknowledge where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. While the challenges we’ve all inevitably gone through won’t simply disappear with a new year, seeing how far we’ve come and what we were capable of enduring will give us greater resilience, strength and insight, a better perspective and remind us to be grateful for everything we have.