Honoring Your Pain, Avoiding Suffering: It’s Possible!
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with hip degeneration. This was actually my second hip deterioration, as my left hip was replaced in 2007. I realized I could see this second degenerative hip, this time on the right side, as either an ordeal or an experience. I chose the latter. I chose to go through this second hip degeneration as an explorer to see firsthand if the experience could be different by applying all that I have learned through life coaching.
Early on, I asked myself what I desired from this new adventure. I decided that I wanted to experience this hip degeneration as authentically as I could. That summed it up for me. I wasn’t asking that the process go quickly so I could get my replacement. In fact, I was trying not to be attached to any particular outcome of when the surgery would happen. I simply desired to have an authentic process.
While my process has not been perfect, I would say that it has been authentic and honest. When I was sad and grieving my loss of ability, I would allow myself time to feel that sadness. I mourned when my body let me know that the planned hiking vacation in the Lake District of England would not be in my best interest. Then I was able to cancel the vacation without any reservations or regrets. Allowing myself to feel this deep grief and not stuff it down into the cellar of unfelt emotions allowed me to move forward and avoid getting stuck in grief for months or even weeks on end.
Going through this process taught me so much. I learned to build a co-creative relationship with my body, which has made all the difference. Again, there are times when my body told me loud and clear that I was not paying attention and needed to be reined in. However, I allowed myself to be reined in. I allowed myself to not be perfect at this adventure. It was exactly that—an adventure—and it was full of trial and error.
What did I learn? I learned that our thoughts or limiting beliefs have tremendous impact on how much pain we feel. I realized that if I investigated my limiting beliefs, the pain I experienced was minimized. I also learned that pain is a form of communication from my body. Therefore, I learned to listen to the pain, experience its communication, and honor it. For example, if I was working out on the arc trainer and felt discomfort in my right knee, I did not ignore the pain. I acknowledged the pain and leaned into it. Sometimes, the discomfort would pass. Sometimes, it would not, which let me know that it was time to slow down, decrease the resistance, or end my work out on the arc trainer altogether. I would respond to the discomfort and if the pain dissolved, I felt that was my body saying, "You can continue on." If the pain did not dissolve, I felt that was my body saying, "Please stop."
I was so amazed by what I was discovering on my journey that I decided to submit a proposal to the American College of Sports Medicine. In fact, I gave my presentation at their national conference in April of 2014! I wanted to share my journey and my knowledge so that others could learn that they too could experience injury and illness with less suffering. There might be pain, but suffering is not a mandate for injury and illness. I have learned that suffering, just like wellness, is a choice we can make. I chose wellness!
When I went to my surgeon on February 4th for a check-up, I was not expecting his news. I was experiencing more pain than I had been months earlier, but I was still functioning pretty well: I was making choices that worked for me, and I did not view my life from a world of limitations but from one of choices. I was happy and not feeling as depressed as I had at the end of my first hip degeneration. To be clear, I received a good amount of support from phenomenal Certified Martha Beck life coaches to help keep me honest during this time. Naturally, I was shocked to learn that my hip had worsened to the point that it was bone on bone and I was a great candidate for hip replacement, which could happen in one month.
Hours later, I realized that I did it! I experienced my hip degeneration process as authentically as I could. I had grieved and had avoided depression because I allowed myself to feel the grief. So, I write this e-newsletter two days before my surgery date—this coaching stuff is real, and it works! I find myself full of gratitude today for having the opportunity to use this experience and my body as my own little lab to see what is possible. I am proud to say that experiencing injury and illness with minimal suffering is absolutely possible! You will all be receiving this after my hip has already been replaced and I have begun my new adventure of recovery and rehabilitation. I look forward to seeing you on the other side.
I recently discovered an organization called One Billion Rising. One Billion Rising is a campaign started by Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues and, from what I have discovered, the largest campaign in history to end violence toward women. Here is their website, where you can learn more.
Additionally, I am sharing with you this year’s V-Day video, which was choreographed by the award-winning Debbie Allen. This video helped me learn about their campaign. I hope you choose to support One Billion Rising!
I found this quote by Carlos Castaneda when I was putting my presentation "Living for the Long Haul" together for the American College of Sports Medicine’s national conference for practitioners. It seemed like a great piece to end my presentation, and it seems appropriate to share with all of you now as I prepare for my new hip.
Until next time,
Safe Space Life Coaching