For the past two months, I have been healing from stress fractures in my left foot and leg. I never thought I had a problem with movement until my body told me otherwise. It told me to stop, to listen, to rest, and to recover. This has looked like wearing a cumbersome boot around campus and learning how to maintain happiness with constraints. It has been fairly excruciating but humbling.
I am far more used to imposing restrictions on my body than I am of my body restricting me. However, having to yield to my temporary limitations has reminded me of the blessings I take for granted. It is a gift to move freely. The number of times I’ve heard “your body is a vehicle for your soul” has made it a cliché, but I’ve been reminded of the truth in that statement. To have the ability to get up and walk around or jump or run whenever I please is thanks to my body. My soul instructs, but it is only in my physical self that I can answer. With my injuries, I’ve felt like I’ve lost a part of my voice.
I’ve found myself time and time again wanting to respond to my soul in ways I cannot right now. When I go outside and feel the sun on my back and get an urge to walk around only to realize my leg doesn’t want to, or when I want to feel graceful and my boot gets in the way, or when my friends ask me to go to Zumba and I remember that you need two fully functioning feet for that.
At first, I tried to ignore my limitations and expected my body to follow. I’d go for the walk or take my boot off for a day but my body would fall behind and my fractures would get worse. I didn’t understand why my body wasn’t cooperating with me when I fought so hard to earn the right to inhabit it. Then I realized that I don’t always get a say. My body isn’t a machine. Though it’s fought for me at times when I couldn’t, it isn’t unbreakable and it needs and deserves kindness, even when that looks like doing the opposite of what my soul might want.
Instead, I’ve come to the realization that right now I have to find another way to gain my voice back. Similar to feelings, I can’t control what my body may experience, but I can control my response. I’ve had to embrace the outlets I have and take care of the parts of me that need to heal. I’ve read more, studied more, and slept more. I’ve appreciated my body more.
I want my body to heal. I wish it had never broken. But, in many ways it’s a blessing that it did. I needed to slow down to remember what moving means.