We speed through our lives, driving ourselves into early graves to get to the next thing. We fly through life as if the best of our lives is always just out of reach and we must bolt towards it. I pushed this reality to the back of my mind until one day I collapsed.
Recently, I moved back in with my mother in New Jersey after deciding to completely change careers. Washington, D.C. offered little to no opportunities in screenwriting and production so I needed to move back as close to New York City as possible to get into the business.
After almost a year of smaller stomach pains that I ignored, attributing to overeating, a few weeks ago, my mother found me on the living room floor on my knees unable to stand.
I was taken to the ER, not knowing that a few hours later, I would be in the OR with portions of my small intestine and colon being removed due to endometriosis. As someone who has always had reasonably good health, this hit me like a ton of bricks. I did not know what to expect in recovery. I did not understand the extent to which I would need to slow down.
I didn't understand that in order to begin to live fully again, I would have to decrease speed and pay more attention.
It's a lesson I can look back and see that God was trying to teach me at least 3 different points in my adult life. This time, I got it. I had nothing but time to dig deeper, journaling and meditating to find just what this downtime is supposed to be teaching me.
1. Accept help.
The hardest thing for me was to accept that I couldn't even lift my own body or bathe myself for the first few weeks. I had to rely on nurses, CCTs, and family members. I didn't realize how prideful I was until I had to accept others' help on a larger scale than I ever have before. It doesn't point to weakness when you must rely on others, it shows your humanity. It's cliche but true, no one is an island and sometimes we can become arrogant in our ability to give and help others. So, it's paramount to living our best lives to learn how to receive help graciously and gratefully.
2. Find your own pace.
It is difficult to be in recovery in any capacity while trying to move at others' speeds. Social media advertising friends' accomplishments and escapades can do a number on us psychologically when we are in a state of stillness. We want to be doing more when we physically cannot or should not. Don't rush yourself to be doing more if you don't have the energy. Try not to obsess over what other people are doing, talking about, or posting. Focus on yourself, doctor's orders, and how you want to be on the other side of recovering.
3. Stop and listen for lessons.
What do you hear when you get quiet and listen? What adjustments have you wanted to make to your life but felt you never could because you had to keep moving? While you have the time, it's worth it to establish a daily practice of prayer or meditation to ensure you're where you need to be mentally and emotionally. One of the main lessons I'm learning during my recovery is to redefine success. I didn't notice until I had to sit still that I was defining success as constantly being in motion, constantly doing something, producing something. Am I no longer successful now that most of my attention goes to recovering from surgery?
Have I lost my value?
At first, I felt that way. Over the course of a couple of weeks journaling, sitting in silence, praying, and meditating, I recognized this was a major lesson God was trying to teach me. Movement is not most important; being present, grateful, and whole is.
While I was constantly traveling, mixing and mingling, talking, and creating, I lost sight of that truth and wrapped my worth in constant motion.
Stillness is a gift in how it offers us time and space to scoop up the bits of wisdom we leave on the table when we're typically rushing through life. There is no shame in taking that time to reevaluate and reemerge with new perspective and appreciation for life.
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