I broke myself...

In this month's newsletter, Pippa Best shares a recent journey through mental and physical health challenges:

...one that taught her the power of slowing down, sitting with and accepting the difficult feelings, being brave enough to ask for help, and accepting that we are all worthy of love.

Maybe it's a lesson you need right now too?

 

 

 

It's Summer. In the whirl of encroaching transitions and holidays, are you slowing down or speeding up? 

Personally, I'm in the midst of an unexpected slow down. I fought against it for a couple of days, and eventually realised that wasn't helping me in the slightest. So now, I'm trying acceptance... Some days I'm successful, some days I'm grumpy and frustrated.  Which is fine, that's just part of being human.

I was running across the road towards the sea, en route to a meeting.

I had my 'smart' yet still pretty sensible sandals on - flat cork heel, several straps. As I ran, my sandal twisted under my foot, my ankle twisted and my foot smashed down. I heard the crack. But I didn't have time to think about it, because I was already careering onwards across the pelican crossing, and my main focus at that point was trying to stay upright through the pain as the momentum threw me forward. I got across and managed to get my hands on the low prom wall. Thank goodness, because if I hadn't managed that, it would have been knees, wrists, face, the lot. 

Luckily, my husband was behind me. He, rather sensibly, hadn't chosen to run across the pelican crossing - but now he was. As I sat down to catch my breath, I looked down and realised that my foot was already swelling rapidly. Soon after that, I realised that there was no way I was walking home. A few hours at A&E later, I discovered I'd broken not just my foot but my ankle.

A wave made from glass

So now, here I am, foot propped up as often as possible, in this big black boot. The hardest bit has been not being able to get in the sea. And the second hardest, not being able to do anything else...!

But there have also been many many gifts.

Because sometimes, it's only when we slow down that we truly see how much we have. And what we actually need.

The love I have received has astounded me.

The visitors, the support, the kindness, the thoughtfulness.

The reminders of all that is good in the world.

Right now, the wider world can feel like a dark place sometimes - there is so much at threat, so many leaders making selfish divisive choices, so much to fear. 

And yet, slowing down, it's easier to see the light. And the hope.

It's still a challenge to receive, to accept all the help and love that is offered - that's part of the journey for me too. To simply sit and allow. To be open to the hands of kindness, instead of taking the 'safer' position of being the one always offering a hand.

So, I'm curious - where might you slow down right now? What help, love or kindness might you accept instead of avoid?

Because you are worthy of that, just as I am. You are worthy of meeting your needs - whatever they may be. Truth is, you might not even know what your needs are - until you pause. I didn't know that I needed this beautiful piece of sea glasswork from Abstract Lucas until it arrived. It wasn't just a stunning reminder of the sea to me - a work of art. It was evidence of love - that somehow, my presence in the world had had enough of a positive impact on someone else that they thought to reach out a hand. To send me this precious thing that they made.

light breaks through the clouds over the sea

It turns out that what I needed was a reminder to keep going, to trust that I was doing a decent job of life, even at my most grumpy, miserable and unproductive. 

Grumpy, miserable and unproductive because of a broken foot and ankle, but also because right now, I can't get into the sea - the place I'd found that eased all my problems whenever things got hard. An activity that always shifted my mood.

The sea was where I would go to get rid of the uncomfortable feelings and bad moods, to reconnect to joy, to empty my mind of the critical voice. And without it, here I am, sitting with all of that difficult stuff for a bit, without any easy escape.

In many ways, it's familiar. Because this is a situation that we often find ourselves in as we move through the many phases of motherhood. When we simply can't get what we need, for ourselves. When all the tools we'd previously used to hold ourselves together fall away. And all we have to fall back on - is ourselves...just as we are at our most exhausted and overstretched. And somehow, when this happens, we can't bring ourselves to ask for help. We don't believe that we need or deserve it - regardless of all that we're facing.

This feeling takes me back to those months without sleep, without any concept of 'me time'. To months when I couldn't drink a glass of wine to help me wind down (actually, I'm still in that now too - my peri-menopausal body seems to have decided that's not a good idea either). The months when there wasn't space to numb my fears with coffee and cake, or an exercise class, or shopping, or a night out, or whatever it was that used to help me get through. Before we were stopped by life, our bodies, motherhood, or a personal choice.

young girl smiles as she tends to her mother's feet

Rather annoyingly (especially while you're in it), it's a truism that these crappy months, of course, usually turn out to be the (painful) making of us.

When we can't get away from the discomfort and pain, and simply have to be present with our messy vulnerable imperfect selves.

When we simply have to find a way through, whatever it takes. To sink into what remains of our resilience and find our courage. Courage to reach on - and reach out.

These are the times - the "getting through it somehow" times - when we find the sea within ourselves.  (Or the wine or the cake, depending on how it goes...!)

When we are in the thick of it, we can only find ourselves in the pause. In allowing a moment of feeling it all. A moment of being vulnerable and admitting we need help - because our usual strategies aren't working any more. And what I've learnt so beautifully since I broke myself... is that people really want to help. How I managed to forget that - when so much of my life is built around my desire to help and care for other people, I don't know.

So if you need that reminder today - to brave the pause - to feel it all - and then, to ask for help - I hope this letter touches you as all these kindnesses have touched me. Because there are people who love you, and want to help. And truly, deep down, you are not broken. And nor am I.

Can you pause for a moment, remind yourself of that, and ask yourself what you truly need?

And though all these things may be what you need sometimes: cake, wine, sea. What you need right now might simply be love.  And there is often so much more of that around than we think. Maybe we just have to admit that we need it. Maybe we need to actively look for it.  Maybe we need to show it to ourselves. Whatever it is that you need right now, know that I am sending you so much love - that what you do matters - that you are appreciated, and whole, and enough.

And if you need more love today, message us and we will send you some extra.

Because you, broken or not, are totally worthy of it,

Sea Soul Blessings

May you PAUSE
 
Each visit to the sea opens space for respite and contemplation. A chance to be present in the pause. A movement away from overwhelm towards peace.
A wash of stillness to guide your movement forward. 
 
May you find the quiet moment.
May you take all the breaths you need.
May you have time to consider.
May you know the pause as progress.


Find more Sea Soul Blessings at www.seasoulblessings.com (they make a perfect gift for sea-lovers and anyone in need of an extra boost...)

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Comments

Broken

I feel for you so much, I broke my foot 3 weeks ago and am struggling so much, can't believe how life changing it is, just showering, cooking, cleaning and not to mention not being able to swim and go for walks (which kept depression at bay) .... your words are beautiful and I hope I can get a bit of your positivity (at the moment I'm in a very dark place)

Sending you love

Oh Mandy, yes - it is so hard. I really feel for you too. To be unable to access the tools that usually help us to move through life is such a challenge - to be constantly needing and accepting help - to be in pain, tired and frustrated - immobile and feeling inadequate. I am, mostly, learning to be extremely compassionate towards myself through this - luckily for me, this is a practice I've been working on for the past few years because I've always had a very loud critical internal voice, so now I'm really getting to put it to the test (if you're interested in this, take a look at Kristin Neff's website: selfcompassion.org - she has some free exercises and meditations there, which are a good place to start.) I'm trying not to criticise myself for the frustration, anger, grumpiness, sadness, guilt, all the shadow stuff I feel through this - and simply to accept that sometimes all of us feel these things. These feelings are part of being human - and in many ways they actually connect us to others rather than mark us apart. I keep having to stop myself from doing 'productive' things, and just accept that now isn't the time - that it's OK to feed the kids toast again, to sit down again, because this isn't forever, it's just for now. And it will get better, I promise. Sending you so much love - and some encouragement to reach out and ask for help from those around you. We have nothing to lose by doing that, and a lot to gain - if we can just allow ourselves to accept and receive it. This will pass xxx

Broken

Thanks for sweet words, I know it will all be a distant memory one day ... can I ask what kind of break you have and what the doctor has told you to do ? I'm always interested in any tips I can get from fellow brokens XXXXXX

not told me much...

Hello again! I haven't really been given any tips other than start to put weight on it as soon as I can, which I'm doing now... I broke the bottom of my fibula (luckily not weight bearing), and cracked the fifth metatarsal, chipped the fourth, and had some other fracture across the top which they were originally worried about, but after several tests and extra X-rays decided wasn't going to need pins and an operation - yay! And yes, we're healing already aren't we - time is passing slowly but surely <3

foot

How are you healing this week ? do you feel you are on the mend, do you get much pain ?

Broken foot

Sorry me again .... I just saw your holiday on instagram and am so impressed with your walking on crutches and how far you are going ... does your foot swell at the end of it all and do you ever weight bare on it ?

Hello!

Hi Mandy, thanks for your patience - I'm back from holiday now but sharing the stories on instagram now I'm back - that epic walk was about five weeks into the boot-wearing, so getting close to being due to take the boot off - which will be later this week, fingers crossed, to see if I can walk without it, woop woop! I have been resting A LOT in between efforts, and taking it slowly, stopping whenever I need to, and yes, raising it often in between as it does swell. I am weight bearing now, was down to one crutch but used two for safety on the rocky paths, and now I'm home I'm walking about without a crutch, in a very wonky way! How are you doing?

Broken foot

Hi Pippa
How did you go with your foot, are you out of your boot yet ?

Broken foot

So glad you had a lovely holiday, such a great effort with your injury ... did you get to take your boot off ?
I was told to weight bare in my boot this week and he wants me ditch my crutches so I'm very wonky too, did you wear a raised shoe on your other foot to even you up ? Been told I will need some sensible running shoes to transition back into shoes (not looking forward to that with nice dresses)
Lots of swelling here too and a lot of pain when I've been on it for a while, apparently 5th metatarsals can take a while to heal, just want to be back to normal, very challenging mentally ... can you let me know how you go coming out of your boot ? Always good to hear fellow brokens journey xxxx

Catching up

Hi Mandy - I've finally got my boot off, and it's surprisingly hard to adapt, not the easy fix I was hoping for - but things are improving every day - so although I think rehab will probably take some time, I'm also back in the sea, little bit by little bit, which feels great! I'm going gently, and just noticing what seems to feel OK and what is too much - still having to raise the foot quite often when I do too much, and ice it occasionally - but I haven't really had any expert physio input yet, so I'm hoping to get some in person guidance soon on whether or not I'm doing the right thing. I went up to London this week, and the combination of heat and walking there resulted in a lot of swelling (and yes I'm in the dodgy hiking trainers and dress combo too...!), I also carried one crutch most of the time and used that when it got too much (and also to explain to commuters why I was so slow...) but it seems so much better again today and I've been back in the lovely cold sea, which has helped. How are you doing? xxx

Catching up

So glad you are having your sea swims again, I can't wait to do that ...
I'm out of my boot as of yesterday (never wan't to hear velcro again if I can help it) ... I've just been walking around the house in bare feet and socks but feels so good to walk on 2 feet, doctor said expect pain and swelling and elevate when needed ...I haven't purchased any proper shoes yet so need to do that before I can take on the great outdoors ... I saw a PT at my fracture clinic and she said to just practice walking backwards and forwards, do ankle rolls and side to side movements and to balance on broken foot (not sure about that one but I can manage it ) I've kept my one crutch for the same reason as you .... happy healing hopefully we will be back to normal soon, keep me posted on what your physio says and thanks so much for your recovery info not much out there in information and really not that many people with a broken foot to talk to, although I do find myself now looking for anyone with a limp or boot and having a lot of envy for anyone walking normally (who would have thought huh) xxxx

How are you doing?

Hi Mandy, I was just thinking about you and wondering how you were doing? I'm making pretty good progress I think, and using tape to keep the ankle in place, getting in the sea lots, and weight bearing as much as I can - I'm going to try yoga for the first time tomorrow... eek! xx

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