“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”-Brene Brown
Life is filled with so many amazing moments. There is so much to celebrate, so much to be grateful for, so much to live for and to share with others. Yet again, life has a way of reminding us that moments of pain and suffering exist, they’re inevitable, they are a part of life.
Society encourages us to share the wins, the highs, to glorify the good moments. When it comes to the hard moments of life, we are taught to tuck them away, to toughen up and suck up the pain and the hurt we may feel. But why?
We, perhaps, don’t realize or don’t like to admit the goodness that comes out of sitting with the hard realities of life, with opening up, being able to talk and be vulnerable. I insist that it´s not only okay to talk about the hard, it´s a necessary process to heal.
My Husband’s Injury
Last year, October of 2019, my husband tore his patella tendon while playing his favorite sport, basketball. During a game with friends, he heard a loud pop and suddenly fell to the ground. He soon realized his knee had given out and was in excruciating pain. He had hurt himself many times before playing basketball so at first, I didn´t think it was anything serious.
We made the trip to the urgent care to get a better understanding of how serious his injury truly was. Within a matter of hours, we went from thinking (or hoping) it was something minor to later finding out surgery was necessary and the recovery up ahead would be a long one. Boy, were we unprepared. How were we going to work things out? The stairs….how would he get around the house? What about work? What did all this mean for our family? Well, we were going to find out.
My husband had surgery on October 9th, 2019. It was a short procedure but the recovery was something else. The first few nights were the hardest. I had never seen my husband in such pain. I felt helpless and useless as there was no way I could make his pain go away. The days were long and the nights even longer but nonetheless, it seemed we were getting through them….he was getting through them.
The Hard Moments
As the days passed, there were times I had to encourage my husband to get out of bed. There was no motivation, no desire whatsoever. For what? He would ask. Not being able to move around without assistance or his crutches, being in constant physical pain and to top it all off, he was concerned he would not be able to provide for his family during this time. He shared with me that the hardest part of the recovery wasn’t necessarily the physical aspect of it but the mental and emotional part. It was hard for him to sit and rest while thoughts of despair, failure, and anxiety filled his mind. He felt trapped.
My husband has always been a master of hiding his emotions which often made it difficult to know how he was dealing with this situation. On the outside, he was gaining mobility little by little, the pain was decreasing and he was making progress. There was a part of him still hurting and I needed to pull that out of him. The guilt, the shame, the misery was trying consume him on the inside. I tried to comfort him and encourage him to be vulnerable, something that in men, is not embraced.
With time, he found comfort in expressing his emotions. He not only was sharing his mental, emotional and physical progress with me but also with those friends who stuck around, who checked in and who I believe, understood the importance of being present to listen and care. I knew those individuals meant the world to my husband, they made him feel seen and heard even during a time when he felt alone.
Climbing The Mountain
The recovery time gave my husband the opportunity to reconnect to the life he believed he was taking for granted. He revisited ideas, dreams and goals that had been tucked away. My husband was inspired to put together a book club for men, a space where they could talk not only about the book but also about their lives; the good, the bad and the messy middle. He was surprised to find out he wasn’t the only one needing such space.
Recently, my husband’s book club buddies and him decided to go on a hike to Lory State Park. It seemed quite daring for someone with a knee injury but he took on the challenge. Climbing the mountain was hard but the real test was coming down the snowy terrain, pushing his knee to its limits. It was an amazing win, the effort and dedication to get to the top was like no other. I watched and listened as friends and family congratulated him. Pride and joy filled my heart knowing that he had overcome so much to get to that point.
My husband has continued to heal physically, emotionally and mentally but I have to say that it’s mainly due to his willingness to sit, to talk and embrace even the bad that life throws our way.
Life is a series of ups and downs, there’s no denying that! In a world that encourages and glorifies the highs, the triumphs, the goodness, let’s be brave and vulnerable to also share the low and hard moments.
It’s not only okay to talk about the hard, it’s necessary in order to heal and move forward. It reminds us we are not alone in our journeys.