Thursday, June 23, 2011

no, I'm not a machine

Years (and years and years) ago, I broke my finger in a step class at my upper east side gym. The room was jam-packed with frenetic, cardio-obsessed women. The teacher was more a drill sergeant than an aerobics instructor. 20 minutes into class I kicked my middle finger doing a repeater step and knew that something cracked. Pain washed over me. My finger swelled, throbbed, turned purple. But, I finished the class. The next day, my middle finger wrapped tightly in a splint, I was back at the gym. I modified by riding an exercise bike, but I wasn't backing down from my usual schedule. There was no way a fracture was interfering with my work out.

I can be really hard core.

It comes from my anorexic past. My body became something to be mastered, controlled. It bent to my will, no matter how insane or unhealthy or ridiculous my will was.

I'm realizing, this frustration at not being Wonder Woman stems from that very self-destructive place.

I'd thought I'd left that part of me firmly in my past. And for the most part I have. But, in extreme situations, it comes flooding back. Not the need to exercise until I can't walk. Not the starvation (I'm eating a vegan cookies and cream cupcake as I write this), not even the feeling fat part. But the profound disappointment in myself at not being able to control everything I want to is back front and center.

What's such a shame, what's pathetic really, is that it's keeping me from truly celebrating this amazing thing I've done. And I've done an amazing thing. Yesterday, as I felt more like myself than I have since before the surgery, I thought about writing out a total gold star post. Because, deep down, I'm so proud of myself. Or at least I must be. I haven't gotten to appreciation yet. I'm trapped in this darker place.

I've lost my center. I've lost the peace and calm and ease I had finally found after these last few tumultuous months. Today, at accupuncture, the first positive thing I've done for myself (besides nap), in a long time, Patsy looked me squared in the eye and said: you're not a machine. She stressed I can't expect to have gone through the major, big deal surgery I had and expect all to quickly go back to normal. Not only does my body have to heal from being cut open and hard core drugs, it has to create new pathways, learning to live one organ down.

That takes time.


Empathy and understanding.

None of those are easy for me when it comes to me. In fact, all the above go against who I've been for most of my adult life. But, before surgery there were glimmers of acceptance and letting go.


I can't see that from here. But I'm hoping I'll find there again.


  1. Oh it is so hard though. I have gone back and forth about whether I should say this or not because I don't want you to feel bad, but here goes: it took me almost six months to feel fully "normal" after my kidney surgery. And don't get me wrong, I wasn't down and out for that long, I just didn't have the same energy that I normally have, I tired more easily, etc.
    You are not a machine. I think sometimes that the way they can do these surgeries these days seems so much less invasive that we don't register how major they are.
    So I say all of this not to make you feel bad, (and I truly hope I did not) but just to say, be patient. You will get there. All the way there to those places you were at before. And the added benefit will be the knowledge that you helped your brother get there, too. Hugs.

  2. Oh sweetheart - thank you so much for saying so! Knowing I'm not alone really helps with recovery. And hearing that people do make it back to where there were gives me hope too. xoxo