Back in 2017, it took me almost a year to figure out what was wrong with my hip. I had assumed the pain was a pulled muscle. I rested, stretched, used warm compresses, saw a couple chiropractors and sought physical therapy.
An X-ray revealed advanced arthritis, the surgeon stated I was too young to be a candidate for a hip replacement so alternative therapies were recommended. I had PRP and stem cell therapy (with my own stem cells painfully extracted from bone) at great financial cost, which took months to recover from with very little success. I had maybe eight weeks of relief from the pain after almost 10 months of recovery.
Soon after my husband died I requested a Cortizone shot in order to be able to continue walking. It was all I could consider at the time.
After a year, the Cortizon began to wear off as I emerged from the dissociation I had suffered from the shock and trauma of loss. I began having a very difficult time walking more than the length of a city block.
When trying to survive traumatic loss and grief, and depression there’s a simple list of “to do‘s”:
As I began to lose my ability to walk I became more and more depressed, beyond the grief, and became motivated to begin the process of scheduling the necessary surgery. More than several medical professionals recommended I see a specialist out of town. That goal began a process of paperwork, referrals, appeals and jumping through so many hoops. It took almost 9 months.
The first actual obstacle to get past wasn’t the paperwork or the fear of surgery, but the reality of knowing my beloved husband would not be driving me to the hospital nor would he physically be there with me. He was so loving and caring toward me I always felt completely safe with him as my advocate. This reality had delayed my ability to even consider this necessary surgery the first year after his passing.
The distraction of paperwork and scheduling appointments allowed me to push that reality aside and just do the next thing that was in front of me in order to get scheduled.
Now I’m here.
Thankfully I am seeing a counselor on a weekly basis for my grief and trauma. And thankfully I’m no longer dissociating after more than a year of not feeling like I was living on this planet or in this time period or even believing that my own life was mine, unable to discern if I had just imagined it all.
She began EMDR therapy with me a few weeks ago. This particular therapist is compassionately invested in her work, enjoys what she does, brings a lot of extra to her clients and I’m so incredibly grateful for her. I had heard positive things about EMDR, but I really didn’t know what it was.
She had me watch a video which explained it and then took me carefully through the steps of imagining a safe place with all of my senses. We went through what felt like a layering of sensory feelings in order to ground myself in a safe place which I can access when being triggered instead of freezing.
As I saw the ocean, felt the sand and my husband's embrace, smelled the salt air , tasted the drink of water and heard the crashing waves, she took notes and waited to make sure I still felt safe. I went to that place over and over again each time sensing more and more. It was a bit like dreaming, because my own mind was leading me without a narrative being forced. The full experience became my husband and the land embracing me. She asked me to choose a word or phrase to describe this place and to use as an anchor.
The next step was to explore my anxiety regarding my surgery. I remembered my husband being by my side as I came close to death with a miscarriage and how afraid I was that I wouldn’t be here for my children. I stated my fear of being alone, of abandoning my children and not having my husband physically with me.
I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of near death experiences in the past year. I have found great comfort and peace with what my husband is experiencing now from the many stories shared. I was just reading an author who had experienced angels and spirits around her dying mother. She has experienced this many times and created a simple visual in her book. To my surprise, she describes the same formation of angels and spirits surrounding individuals in surgery, in the same shape as my envisioned embrace.
As I was led through the EMDR therapy holding both my fear about surgery and being in a safe place, it was like a movie unfolded before me. I was on that beach, safe, leaning against my husband, and sensing everything around me.
The only thing that will go into surgery with me is -me. I’ll be stripped naked. But I have been intentional about having his ashes inked into my skin so he would be with me.
As I imagined being on that beach, my lion came and encircled us and we smiled at him and felt safe. Then I was on the surgery table, in the middle of the cove of safety and angels encircling me. The lion came and laid down next to me, put his paw on my heart, turned around and looked at my husband who was touching his back to let him know he was taking care of me.
My husband knows this lion, I introduced them on our last day together. My heart had made him come to life on Holy Saturday, Christ in the in-between.
The lion wrapped his tail around me, protecting me with memories and beauty and majesty, while ocean waves of light and energy drifted over me.
I am safe.
I am not alone.
It’s going to be ok.
I began painting this vision and I thought about how miraculous it is that we are made up of water. That the same water that has always been moves inside us. Then I saw angels holding our honeymoon shell, pouring salt water into my veins to help me survive. That’s been their job, pouring love and life into us, an IV drip of divinity.
I listen to one of the most calming voices in my life, a therapist who has brought peace and rest to me in recent weeks. He reads a poem while I paint, a poem that is my painting. This phenomenon has happened so often , that the words of my paintings will be unexpectedly spoken over it by someone who is calming my soul.
Body like a mountain
Heart like an ocean.
Mind like the sky- Dogen
It’s a beautiful grounding meditation, to be slowly repeated and deeply contemplated.
Every time this happens I feel tremendous peace in the synchronicity that I am experiencing in my life as I seek to heal and be so aware of the sacredness of life.
I've only recently been able to remember the trauma that probably caused this, a doctor hyper extending my leg during my last child's delivery. .....and that's the story wrapped around my hip.