“I can’t take it anymore!”
I said this internally in my own head, not out loud, as I looked at the ceiling over my bed, unable to even turn over because of pain.
I had torn my right hamstring right off my sits bone by doing a gymnastics move I hadn’t done in 25 years. I wanted to reverse time, go back and fix it. I wanted it to not have happened at all.
Now after surgery I had a full leg brace to make sure I didn’t move, and my right leg was sort of withered looking.
I had a huge scar from left to right the full width of my upper right thigh in the back under my butt cheek where they drilled the hamstring back into the bone and held it fast with two titanium pins.
This was the ninth day of lying on my back in bed. Every time I got up to go to the bathroom, it hurt horribly as I dragged myself there. I couldn’t put any weight on the right leg. I couldn’t sit on the seat (I had a huge thick cushion put on the toilet seat and still couldn’t).
At that moment of looking at the ceiling….again….
….I tried to turn over onto my stomach.
It hurt so much, but I was determined. I could get out of the bed, so surely I could turn over and lie on my stomach for once?
I tried and kept trying, and then finally flopped over like a block of wood getting turned over by a tiny ant. Or a fish lurching over on a boat deck.
Then on my stomach, I stared at the place the floor and the wall met. I had a great view of the carpet.
OK, here I am on my stomach at last. Now what.
I stared at the floor for about 30 minutes, and lay there feeling the relief of being off my back, and on to my stomach, and then eventually realized I needed to turn over on my back again if I wanted to anything besides stare at the wall.
Slow pushing, careful turning. Flop.
And then the thoughts broke through.
I can’t take this anymore. I’m trapped. I’ll never be the same. This is horrible. My life is over.
I did The Work.
I got to trade facilitation with a beautiful certified facilitator, so I could stay close to this process without jumping out and into Doomsville.
Is it true, you can’t take it anymore?
Are you absolutely sure? Can you know it’s not possible for you to “take this” anymore?
(Note the victim role, I am a very small potato and the world and reality are massively huge and all-powerful and I’ve lost).
No, it’s not true.
How do you react when you think you can’t take it anymore, and something very tough is happening?
Pictures of dying, declining, failing, never running again, never biking again, never getting up again. I see nothing good here. My sense of being this small ant in the universe is dreadful, sad, furious, self-piteous.
So who would I be without this story of oppression of the body, this injury being “bad”….and the thought that I can’t take it anymore?
I paused when doing this work for a long time to answer this question…imagining being unable to think this thought that I can’t take it.
I noticed how much reading I was doing (hands straight up overhead with long arms holding the book directly over my face), watching interesting videos, still teaching telecourses and working with clients. Still running the Year of Inquiry.
I noticed I didn’t think about my injury or even remember I was in bed when doing any of these things.
Without the thought….
….I’d be free, relaxed, navigating the next thing, the next thing. Watching life unfold around me, without the thought. Watching how things change, and how I’m not in charge.
I’d be aware of how truly having this thought was what was stressful, nothing else really.
Turning the thought around: I CAN take this anymore. I can’t take my THOUGHTS about this anymore.
This suddenly made me smile.
I began to wonder about this idea of “taking it”. Gross. It sounded so passive and violent. And yet, to consider the turnaround that I could take it, then it could mean something different–like I was capable of taking, and even transforming it.
Or, it wasn’t even “me” that would be transforming “it”, but instead something was taking this and working with it.
Plus I notice taking and giving are a paired type of energy, so there was something giving, and something taking, and energies flowing. I’m watching it all. I’m participating.
And then, as I did this work, I saw Stephen Hawking in my head.
He can’t turn over, and I don’t see him complaining.
In fact, he’s doing some kind of amazing life journey living an incredibly unexpected life with ALS and offering his unique genius in the world in the form of physics and philosophy and explaining it all to humanity.
I immediately found videos with his electronic mechanical voice (since he couldn’t even talk) and listened, mesmerized and overjoyed by his explanations of the universe and space.
He could take it. He could carry on. He could have a brilliant life full of passion without moving much at all.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.” ~ Stephen Hawking
My own illusion of failure, pain, decline, the need for a “working” body, death, injury was a grand illusion.
I can’t take it–not really. That could be a fun turnaround of joyful laughter, not depressing fear and self-pity. It’s not possible to “take” it. It was only my invention in that moment of suffering.
It wasn’t even true.
Thank you Dr. Hawking for your contribution to the world and to my turnaround. You were an inspiration to someone far away who you never met in real life.
By questioning my thoughts, I wound up with appreciation for my injured body.
Because of that incident, I quit my part time job completely to go full time with facilitating The Work, I learned how to do yoga instead of gymnastics, I learned more about astrophysics from someone who didn’t need to have a “working” body in order to be happy.
And that person was me.