Halfway through May, I fractured my leg. I was in the midst of one of those rah-rah-challenge-yourself! military-themed obstacle course runs when I slipped at an odd angle off a wooden barricade and came down on a knee that would no longer work. Medics came, debated my status, then hauled me off the course in a jostling, too-small golf cart. I cried, then laughed, then cried again, wiping mud all over my face. God, it had been a month.

I had relapsed, more than once. Things at home weren’t good, to put it mildly. I thought I’d reached the basement floor, personal crisis-wise, but let me tell you, a painful injury can really send the elevator to brand-new unexplored subterranean levels.

Pity parties do nothing but intensify the suck, of course, but they’re impossible to avoid altogether, aren’t they? You can try your best, but inevitably you’ll wander in, crumpled name tag in hand: HI, MY NAME IS WHOMP.

Recovery was slow. For a while it took so incredibly long to do the most basic tasks, it’s hard to even remember now as I move with ease throughout my days, taking it all for granted again. Like a nightmare, and I know, could I be any more melodramatic, but that’s the best way I can describe it: a crazy inside-out version of real life where a trip to the bathroom suddenly became a grueling Ironman competition.

It felt like there were probably lessons to be learned. Time to spend being grateful for all I had and the temporary nature of my injury. Humbled by the experience of having no choice but to accept help, or even more challenging, ask for it. Prodded from my tight-lipped default thanks to my hinged robo-brace: people talked to me all the time, either out of curiosity or because they had a knee story of their own. It was living on the opposite side of the planet for a while and I cannot say I came out of it a better person but maybe my perspective opened up a bit. I understood, like marrow-deep, the grounding gift of one day at a time. One breath at a time, if need be.

I wish I could tell you that my story went like this: I spent some time in the weeds, and it made me stronger and ready to take on the world with real long-time sobriety. But I haven’t written that story yet. My story is frustrating, a book you want to throw at the wall. Jesus, get your shit together. I get sick of my story too, believe me, and I know the head-shaking disbelief that comes when the plot circles back on itself yet again.

A while back, a counselor gave me a copy of this poem. I keep it nearby, I read it at least once a week. It gives me hope, even when I feel hopeless.

portia nelson poem

My leg is mostly fine now. Not completely back to normal, but maybe a new normal. Sometimes it flares up, it’s untrustworthy, a wobbling system error and I don’t know why. Other times I feel steady, capable and balanced: I’ve got this. Maybe this is how it is now. Or maybe it just needs more time, one day after another.


21 Responses to “MRI”

  1. Kristi on October 11th, 2016 10:03 am

    Thanks for the poem. I so fucking needed it today. I wish you had someone who wrote for you the way you write for all of us. You would have a new clarity. Peace to you.

  2. Jennifer W. on October 11th, 2016 10:03 am

    oh, recovery is hard. I agree. It’s been a couple years now for me and there are days when all I want to do is not feel. And alcohol totally works for that. And is my go-to coping mechanism — along with sarcasm. I’m a treat, let me tell you.
    I hear all the time at meetings that it gets easier. I emphatically disagree. I just think we get a bit better each time at handling the shit that comes our way. Or we can get better at it. Sometimes, I think “I got this!” and feel positive and good and like I got my shit together. Other days, like this past few days I feel like…not only do I not have my shit together, but I’m not even sure what my shit is, where it is, how to handle it and very much without hope. And it’s then that I remember how good alcohol tastes, how good it feels at first…The aftermath is fucked up, but the immediate relief is….a relief.
    Anywho…I’m blithering.
    I just wanted to agree that recovery is hard. And for now, I’ll just keep on keeping on. And I hope you can, too!

  3. Roseann on October 11th, 2016 10:08 am

    As someone that is teetering between 3 and 4 on the daily, thank you for your words.

  4. Amy B on October 11th, 2016 10:09 am

    No one is sick of your story. You’ve got this.

  5. Pete on October 11th, 2016 10:28 am

    Glad you notifications are working again, I missed reading your posts.

  6. Jo on October 11th, 2016 11:21 am

    Thank you for the poem. I need to stop walking down that street.

    Only because i’m currently re-watching it – Wolf Hall. If you haven’t seen it, give it a go.

  7. LP on October 11th, 2016 4:17 pm

    Long time lurker and HUGE fan of your writing and story. Thanks for keepin’ it real. Sending love your way – hoping you can wrap yourself in the softness, cuddliest, most loving blanket of self compassion. Your post reminded me to do that for myself.

  8. Rach on October 11th, 2016 5:14 pm

    So glad you’re writing here again. I’ve missed you. And I’m rooting for you.

  9. Sharon on October 11th, 2016 5:16 pm

    My husband currently has a similar story. It has been hard on our family and it is helpful to hear someone else’s perspective.

  10. LP on October 11th, 2016 5:20 pm
  11. alexa on October 12th, 2016 5:11 am

    I’m sorry about your legs and the struggles you face. I just wanted to say I’ve been reading for a very long long time and I’m always so happy to see All & Sundry pop up in my blog reader. I really enjoy your writing and wonder about you during the long quieter periods. It’s so god to hear from you.

  12. Mary Clare on October 12th, 2016 6:47 am

    Linda, Thanks for sharing your struggles and stories. I can relate to falling in my own version of the hole and the frustration. All the best to you and yours!

  13. Erica on October 12th, 2016 11:09 am

    I’m really glad you are back

  14. camille on October 12th, 2016 2:44 pm

    Word, Amy B: No one is sick of your story. You’ve got this.

  15. independence day quotes on October 13th, 2016 10:40 am

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to
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  16. Kristin on October 13th, 2016 4:32 pm

    I’m not sick of your story either. I started tearing up reading this. I don’t know why. But just know I am praying for you!

  17. joaaanna on October 13th, 2016 9:43 pm

    I am so glad to read your writing again. Do you know how good you are? Like, really, really good.

    You can delete/ignore/whatever I’m about to ask/say. Have you ever heard or tried SMART Recovery? Self-improvement, science-y, non-Jeezusy alternative to 12 Step Programs. My husband has now been sober for a little over a year with the help of this program. I bet there is a meeting somewhere in your area, if not, my husband found the chat forums, online support and speakers incredibly helpful. He was a high-functioning alcoholic for almost 30 years. He ran like hell from AA. This program appealed to his rational, fact based, common sense personality. Hope I’m not overstepping any boundaries by commenting on your post with this info. I have found the program incredibly helpful for me as a family member of an addict and for parts of my life that could use some improvement.

    Always on your side and cheering you on.

  18. Jamie on October 15th, 2016 12:41 pm

    Welcome back. And back again. And back after that. We’re still here for you and I am (selfishly) thrilled that you are writing here, as I always learn something from your posts. Wishing you the best as always.

  19. Mary on October 16th, 2016 3:17 am

    My therapists shares this with us pretty regularly and asks us to gauge what line of the poem we are in. I think it’s a perfect metaphor for what recovery feels like most of the time. And I have totally not managed to choose a different street yet, but I live for the possibility.

  20. AmyQ on October 18th, 2016 5:27 am

    Round and round…. eventually it will stop. I believe this enough for both of us:). Xooo

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