Group Therapy Thursday: Acceptance

Since my surgery last June I’ve had a vision of life post hysterectomy.  I saw myself as a new woman, capable of doing anything I wanted with no fear of pain holding me back. 

Roughly eight weeks ago I started running C25K.  It was the best feeling and life was good.  I felt strong and hopeful.  Hopeful as in, ‘Hey; maybe there IS a runner inside of me somewhere. Maybe my back will work with me this time and as long as I take care of it (stretching before and after runs, and icing/heating when needed) then it will take care of me.   Dare I say that maybe, running could be a new and exciting chapter of my life.’  This seed has grown because of bloggers like Laura (LauraLivesLife) and Katie (Runs For Cookies) both of whom run and have, like me, lost and maintain a 100+ pound weight loss. 

I started reading Runs for Cookies well over a year ago.  I’ve watched Katie go from a woman who never thought she would enjoy running into a strong, courageous lover of the sport.  A few weeks ago Katie posted on her blog that she was holding a virtual 5K for her 31st birthday which is tomorrow.  Anyone could sign up and participate from wherever they were in the world (she even had a bib printed up for participants to wear – isn’t that clever?)  You didn’t have to run it, either.  She wanted to include everyone, including walkers.  The completion of my C25K program coincided with the race so I decided that I would sign up and run my first race ever, then post my milestone here on my blog.    

 

A couple of weeks ago my lower back started showing major signs of unhappiness.  I decided that I would simply work through it by using pain meds and doing more stretching, followed by more ice/heat compresses.  No big deal, I thought.  This time things will be different.  I can make this happen. 

Most of you who read my blog regularly know that I have degenerative disc disease, which is not really a disease but rather a fancy name for bad disc(s) in the back.  With diligence and care, I can go months with very little back pain, but when I had surgery last year, caring for my back took a backseat while I recovered.  With my recovery long and severed stomach muscles slowly healing, I’ve had to burden my back.  As a result I’ve pushed through – and let’s face it: ignored – the increasing pain over the past 7 months. 

No matter.  I can still do this

Last week shortly after my run I felt a stabbing pain shoot down my leg. By that evening my toes were completely numb and I was unable to sit or stand still; relief came only if I walked or lay on my side; not very helpful when one paints at an easel and writes at her computer for a living. 

My husband felt it was time to intervene.  He read me the following from a website: 

Over time, the water between the bad disc dries up and cannot absorbs the shock that comes from the repetitive pounding/jarring that occurs when running. 

‘By running, you’re doing more harm than good,’ he said.  I pretty much knew at that point that my running days were over ~ this time, most likely for good. 

You might be thinking right about now, “What’s so important about running, anyway?”

A great question.   This may sound silly but I guess that for me, I thought it might be a place where I could fit in. I’m not good at sports; running doesn’t require me to be. I’m introverted and quite shy (truly, I am!); running doesn’t put any pressure on me to interact with other people. Plus, I’ve always seen runners as strong individuals and admired their tenacity. Hey, I’ve lived in a college town all my life where EVERYBODY runs. Maybe I associate it with youth….hmm; I’m going to need to let that one marinate in my head for a bit.

Today’s group therapy is about acceptance.   I’ve been fighting the need to accept that running – even jogging, is bad for my current health.  For the past several weeks I’ve been doing everything in my power to ignore the obvious, and now I’m paying the price.

If I can let go of the idea that running is imperative to my health and actually focus on the reality of my well being (like the simple pleasure of sitting through a meal with little to no pain) only then will I be free to make other choices that’ll actually serve instead of hinder me. 

By the time you read this post, I will either be in the middle of or just finishing up my first appointment with an acupuncturist.  This is my first step in acceptance.  I will still be doing Katie’s 5K tomorrow, but not as a runner like I’d hoped.  Part of my acceptance will be following through with my plan to participate, but as a walker.  To repeat last week’s quote as it now pertains to me:

“When I release my death grip on control, I will gain a greater sense of accepting what is; only then can I make the decision to change.” 

What did you learn to accept this week? 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

**This is our last official exercise of this month’s HL Challenge.  For our last week together we’ll continue our focus on 31 Days of Gratitude and meet back here one last time next Thursday to discuss the past month.  It will be your time to share the good and the bad of the challenge and what, if anything, you’ll be taking with you as part of the experience.  We’ll wrap up our meeting with photos of your gratitude jar (if you’d like to send them to me, I’d be most happy to post them here) and pick our favorite Gratitude Moment of the Month. 

So, it’s a date?  See you back here next Thursday Smile

21 thoughts on “Group Therapy Thursday: Acceptance

  1. Greg (Transformed and Scaled)

    Sorry to hear that your running is at an end, Ellen. I’ve been there, and it’s not fun. Just as I was getting into racing, my knees started acting up, and they’ve just never felt right since. Even a few hundred meters of jogging makes them sore now, so I’ve been forced to accept that I can’t do it anymore. A friend, a big time runner, is having problems with his foot and might be looking at the same scenario. You’ll find something else, I hope. Maybe your cycling? Take care.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Greg, I’m sorry to ear that you’ve been having problems, too. It puts things into perspective for me, a bit. I’ve always categorized you as artist, father, husband, all-out good person – who also happens to run. So, maybe I’m just putting too much pressure on the sport as a whole. There are other things that define me as well (and could in the future without runner being one of them). Thanks for that. So good to have you back ;)

      Reply
  2. tree peters

    wow. i’m really inspired by how you handled all that and worked through it. And as usual, yeah for a loving husband who knows when to speak up.
    I’ve longed for the feeling I *imagine* running to be…. but can’t physically do it at this point and probably not ever.
    I’m aiming for cycling for the open road and moving forward feeling.
    I’m so proud of you for making the best of all this and for taking care of your body above your desire to power through it.
    I’ll post later on my new little blog-ette…

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I’m not sure I’d call it inspiring. If you’d seen me 2 weeks ago forcing my body to do something it didn’t want to, you would have been less inspired, believe me. I think an intervention was in order, actually….lol
      It has been helpful to read other peoples take on how they view themselves because I don’t see you, him or her as a runner/jogger/yogi/whatever sport first – all of the other great qualities about my friends here shine through long before I add ‘runner’ to the list. I need to give myself the same courtesy, I guess.

      Reply
  3. Beth

    How about walking Ellen…can you still be a walker?? Your dogs would appreciate it :) I know you will find something else to take runnings place…you have to because your healthy back is very important. And as passionate as you get about things I know you will find something you will feel as equally passionate about to replace it!
    I had a hard time with your exercise this week about acceptance…I just couldn’t think of anything I needed to accept :) The one thing I kept coming up with was something that I didn’t want to accept, and that is that magnet in my couch that draws and attracts my butt to it every night…I don’t want to accept the fact that I AM A COUCH POTATO! As soon as I get home from work I love to sit and watch TV. I reluctantly get up to fix and eat supper, but that couch just keeps on whispering my name when I am gone. I guess I could say I have accepted that is what I am, and I am really trying NOT to be. With both my girls not at home anymore, I don’t have sporting events or plays or school things to keep me busy in the evenings and get my butt up. Now, I have NO reason to get up, but I am trying to find things to force me up…even if it is going back into work and doing things. My name is Beth, and I am a couch potato.

    Reply
  4. Lisa Stalsworth

    I want to run too! My desire to run is because I see other people, like Katie, who hated it that now enjoy running plus I want my body to look like that of a runner, so doesn’t that mean I need to run? But I really hate running, and I just don’t think my body is made for running.
    So, I’ll walk real fast and be happy with that. Heck, you can participate in 5k’s, half marathons and some whole marathons walking. And Katie said you can run or walk, just as long as you complete 3.1 miles on that day.
    I’m with you on accepting that you can’t do everything, but you can be really good at some things!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Yes, Lisa! Exactly. Another thing I need to accept is that my life is unique and should not duplicate someone else. I see how much fun running can be and want to be part of it, but walking is nothing to be ashamed of or sad about. Acceptance – even with silly things, can still sometimes take a bit of time to soak in. But you’re right; we can walk and the main thing is that we’ll be getting some exercise and supporting someone we both admire. Thanks for your comment :)

      Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      No worries, Carrie. Life has a way of doing things like that. I’m sorry you’re having back pain, too. Totally sucks! Feel better soon. xo

      Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Thank you for the confidence boost, Karen. You should have seen the mental anguish I was putting myself through BEFORE I came to this conclusion however. Vicious cycle in action. Some answers don’t come as quickly as others, though. No more bellyaching. This is life!

      Reply
  5. didi

    Yoga, swimming, and cycling are all wayyyyyy lovelier sports than running in my opinion- and don’t you enjoy all three of them? This pretty much sums up my feelings about running right here-
    http://www.active.com/women/Articles/The-6-Grossest-Things-About-Running
    When I was living in Sarasota I thought about taking up running. Why? Eh, mostly because lots of people I knew said it was a good way to lose weight. Deep down I knew that I absolutely loathed running. I love all kinds of physical activity, bun forcing my body to run doesn’t appeal to me. The thing is though- when I really started talking to the runners that I knew who participated in actual racing events- it was pretty clear that they didn’t actually like running either. Running caused them cramps, and joint pain, and it made them vomit. There were pulled muscles, and sprains, and other fun side effects as well. What they liked was jogging, but they were proud that they could endure the stress and physical torment of long runs. It’s like the pride that comes from getting through boot camp- nobody loves to do that shit, but people are happy that they made it through and didn’t die. ;) Now, I am sure there are folk who legitimately enjoy running, but there are SOOOOO many other wonderful activities that you still have to look forward to. Yoga, to me, is a billion times cooler than being able to run. The grace, flexibility, discipline, and total muscle control that it takes to hold some of those advanced poses- now THAT is really something to aspire to. AND it doesn’t have all the negative side effects for your body that running does.

    Here is my acceptance post : http://driftwoodandsealingwax.blogspot.com/2013/01/acceptance.html

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Didi, I always admire your candor. And thank you for always knowing what to say. xo
      I’m late in reading posts but am headed to yours right now…..

      Reply
  6. Hanlie

    I know what you mean with regards to running – it seems like everybody’s doing it! I’ve entertained these visions of me running when I’m lean and fit, but realistically I know it will probably not be my thing. Still, it sucks to have the choice taken away as in your case. Great job with accepting it.

    Here’s my post for this week’s challenge. http://www.hblewett.com/blog/2013/01/26/accepting/

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Well, I’m accepting the fact that this is just something I need to work around. I’m coming to terms with it, though I suspect that part of it is just being told I can’t do something – it makes me want to do it that much more.
      Hanlie, I cannot get in to read your post. If you wouldn’t mind sending along the password, I’d love to read it. xo

      Reply
  7. Brandi

    It seems that Thursdays are turning out to be very long days for me! I have also been a bit sick this week and am plagued with the worst sinus infection that I have ever experienced. So much pressure that the entire right side of my face is in so much pain! I feel like my head is just swimming around…
    With that said I did post about Acceptance and wanted to share that with ya..

    http://faithfitnessandlaughter.com/2013/01/23/burpees-must-die/

    I want to be able to accept who I am at this very moment. Don’t get me wrong, I want more and want to grow and change, but I want to be ok with the person that I am. :)

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I couldn’t have said this any better, Brandi. Exactly my point as well. I hope you are feeling better by now. Take good care of yourself!

      Reply
  8. Katie @ Runs for Cookies

    I’m so sorry about your back! That would be SO very frustrating knowing that you want to run but can’t, and that there is nothing you can do about it. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I was told that I can’t run anymore, because I rely on it so much for my weight maintenance. Anyway, there is really no point to this comment, I just wanted to say that I am sorry for what you’re going through :(

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Thank you, Katie. I am getting over it and trying to put things into perspective. I just need to find something else I can be good at that I enjoy doing, that also happens to burn a ton of calories! Gotta be something else like that, right? lol

      Reply
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