This morning, it was cold. Not like middle-of-Canadian-winter cold, but like “Hey, it’s not summer anymore” cold. And my ankle hurt.
This is nothing new, my ankle pain. Almost ten years ago now, I was living and performing in Los Angeles. I injured my ankle that May, but to keep from losing my visa, I kept dancing on it. By November, I couldn’t walk anymore, got shipped home, spent many months in a cast, and a year recuperating. Now, a decade later, my ankle is the first thing to know when it gets cold outside.
It’s funny, how we react to pain. My instinct with my ankle was to ignore it, to pretend like it wasn’t happening, to push through it and hope it would work itself out.
If I had just stopped, paid attention to my pain, and worked through it while it was still a minor injury, I could have saved myself a lot of time, hassle and, well, pain.
The same pattern has played out in many areas of my life. I ignored my eating disorder for years. I blew through treatment with the mentality that so long as I gained weight, that meant I was recovered. I didn’t follow up with therapists, because it got in the way of my school schedule. I ignored what was underneath the eating disorder, and ran from the pain. And I relapsed. Again and again.
If I had taken the time to stop and look at the pain that caused my eating disorder all those years ago, maybe I’d have saved myself years of suffering. Who knows where I’d have been by now?
I try not to regret the things that I’ve done (or not done) in my past, because they’ve made me who I am today. That being said, I’m sure as hell not going to waste any more time running from my pain.
Nowadays, I treat my ankle differently. I’m the girl who wears legwarmers in yoga class to make sure it doesn’t get too cold. I’ve become a fan of woolly socks. Pointe shoes are a thing of my past.
I treat my emotional pain differently, too. Instead of ignoring it and muscling through, I allow myself to feel the pain and to work through it. Working through the pain, I’ve discovered, is the only way to get to the other side.
Are you a “muscle through-er”, or a “let it out-er”? I know the whole stiff upper lip thing seems like the strong way to deal, but I’ve found more strength in working through things than by pretending they don’t exist. How can you start treating your pain with a little more kindness?