I have written before about how hard it is for me to sit still these days. I love taking long walks, doing yoga, just generally moving. And while I’ve been trying to cultivate more intentional stillness in my life, life had other plans: forced stillness.
Oh, how badly I handle having my independence stripped away. This week, I’ve been dealing with knee pain that has left me crying on the couch because the act of walking is too painful to be justified except in extreme need. And I have been cranky.
It’s amazing what we take for granted when our bodies are well and whole. Making our own dinner. Getting the mail. Running to the corner store for a snack. Taking out the trash. All of these things felt suddenly painful and difficult as my knee seemed poised to snap out of position with every step.
Yesterday, I went to the doctor and got an official diagnosis on my knee. It turns out, nothing is ripped or torn or broken at all–it’s just patellofemeral pain syndrome, aka “runner’s knee.” The downside is there’s no quick, easy fix (there never is, is there?). The upside is, hey, I have an injury that literally has “runner’s” in the name, so I guess that makes me even more super officially a runner!
It’s amazing what our brains will do to us. All of my fears that something more serious was wrong caused me to baby the knee while walking, much more than I needed to. Once I confirmed there was no deep, underlying brokenness and forced myself to start walking as normally as I could, the pain started to back off. Between walking funny and just generally focusing on how horrible and terrible it was that my knee was hurting, I spent days making the situation way worse than it needed to be.
Now that I know for sure what’s wrong, the healing process can begin–physical therapy, strengthening exercises for my hips and quads, and “listening to my body” for when it’ll be okay to run again.
The couch days weren’t all bad, though I grumbled plenty through them. I spent the sunny, summer weekend mostly inside on the couch. I watched several videos in an online learning community I subscribe to but had fallen behind in. I watched a movie with my roommate, and several episodes of The Office with my boyfriend. And yet, I wanted to be running. I wanted to be taking walks and playing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. I wanted to spend more time packing and getting ready for my move.
Sometimes, life and your body don’t give a bother about what you want. And I’m still learning how to adapt and be okay with that.
On Sunday, my boyfriend’s friends went to see Spiderman: Far From Home and Andy came with me since I couldn’t go to the park or do any of the normal stuff we’d do on a sunny Sunday. I love Spiderman, so I was happy to do something fun with my day, but at the same time, I was infuriated to be at my favorite mall walking mall and not even have it in me to do a single Wizards Unite lap to grab energy from Inns before the movie.
It is so easy to focus on the negatives, on what I can’t do in this moment because of a super common running injury. I’m of two minds about this.
On the one hand, there’s something to be said about the idea of “toxic positivity.” That’s the term for the overly positive, #filter way we often present ourselves in life and especially on social media. It tacitly reinforces the belief that everything has to have a silver lining, that you should always look on the bright side and never show people when you’re sad or struggling.
While I don’t think it’s productive to complain too often and do like to look for positives, we can’t do these things all the time and shove our true feelings way deep down. Trust me, I’m from Ohio–I know bottling up your negative feelings to make everyone else feel comfortable. I also know what happens to you long term when you do.
I believe we have to let ourselves be angry sometimes, that some things in life do just suck and you have to feel those feelings and find healthy ways to get that anger out. Otherwise, it’s all just brewing inside of you, bringing you down and building to an inevitable explosion that, more likely than not, will cause a lot more damage.
As it so often does, I think for me this comes down to balance. To being able to say yes, I’m frustrated and yes, I’m mad. To get in my car and say a few curse words and let myself shout it out. But to also look for how I can make the most of this time, how I can blend it in with my goal to find more intentional stillness. Just because I have to slow down right now doesn’t mean some of that time can’t be intentional, after all.