-Brene Brown, Rising Strong via Kelle Hampton
Several months ago, I read an article written by a woman who survived cancer. She beautifully described the minutes, hours, weeks, months, and years she desperately struggled to survive. While I identify with many of her feelings and emotions, not until the last paragraph, the last few words, did I sit back in my chair and feel that tingle of whoa that’s me, that’s exactly how I feel.
That last paragraph told the story of the first year as a survivor of cancer. That last paragraph recounted the crushing self-doubt and defeat that so readily comes along with recovery. That first year is spent stubbornly searching for the person inside the survivor body. The person who once lived and breathed and felt joy and precious hope. The author said it was probably the hardest year of her journey with cancer. She was forced to recover from the fall.
And then today happened. I left to get my haircut, pick up a few things at a cute little market, and returned home. I lifted my body out of the car and into my chair and sighed a huge, I feel sorry for myself sigh, like I do when I am really feeling yucky. I, reluctantly, gathered my wallet, keys, phone, and purchases and started to head up my never ending hill. And when I am feeling all icky like this, that hill seems so huge and so daunting. I started up the hill and noticed a neighbor waiting for me at the top of the hill. This former rabbi stood, at least six feet tall with majestic grey hair and piercing blue eyes, waiting for me to reach the top. He offered to help, but I insisted this climb is good for me. He laughed. I stopped for a minute to say hello and we started a conversation. At some point during this brief encounter I heard him ask why I used a wheelchair. I cavalierly said, "I fell off of a horse and I am paralyzed.”
He said, as he looked right at me and pointed to me, “NO. No, part of your body is paralyzed, YOU are not paralyzed. I see you. I watch you. YOU are not paralyzed.”
I was never more grateful for my giant aviator sunglasses. They hid the tears until they streamed down my cheek. I looked at him, I easily smiled through these tears, completely caught off guard, and said, “Yes, you are right. You are right.”
And as I rode on the coat tails of his euphoric words, I wheeled inside and went straight to my mirror. I looked in my own eyes and I repeated, “YOU are not paralyzed. YOU are not paralyzed. YOU will get back up again. YOU will recover from your fall.”
I may be all messy and vulnerable lately and searching for where I am going and wondering how I will get there. But, I will be damned if the cynic and critic, living inside of me, beats out hope and tenacity. I recover. It’s what I do. It’s what we all do. Recovery is forgiveness, it’s grace, it’s a second or third or twenty-seventh chance. We are so fragile, but we are also so strong. And I say to all of you who are stuck on the floor, who doubt recovery and resurrection, the words from the rabbi who waits at the top of the giant hill...
“NO. No, part of your body is paralyzed, YOU are not paralyzed. I see you. I watch you. YOU are not paralyzed.”