…on Falling Down & Failure

On August 6, 2013 I wrote about my struggle with my body, with finding the focus to lose weight, with finding the strength to not yell at my kids because the scale was too high that morning, because my jeans were too tight, because I felt like such a failure because of both these points.

On August 8th, I wrote that I finally did it, that I found the inner strength to get eating healthy again, to get exercising again, to take care of me again. I find the strength by going one moment, one bite at a time. I felt like such a success because I got over my personal hurdle that had been nagging me for a while.

On October 5th, I wrote about how on August 18, 2013 I headed out of my parent’s house to take #4 for a drive to help him fall asleep and that I left the house with such determination and gusto that I forgot to look where I was going and fell down a stair. You know how kids sit with their feet underneath their bums? You know how they gently get into that position? And how they weigh what, 40 pounds? That was effectively my final position…but I took all my weight, plus my son’s, and didn’t gracefully get into that position, but dropped into it.

What I didn’t write, however, was that my fall was a lot worse than I thought. In fact, it has made the last three months excruciatingly difficult.

Even though my foot seemed okay the day after my fall, and the days after, it wasn’t. The following weekend I almost ended up in the Emergency Room I was in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t sit. All I wanted to do was cry and scream. Finally, I went to the doctor and got an X-ray. Diagnosis? No break, just a really bad sprain and a damaged but not torn nerve. Action plan? Wear a walking air cast for 2-4 weeks and do absolutely no exercise.

Yes, two weeks after I finally got back into the eat healthy and exercise groove that I had so desperately worked to achieve, two weeks after I had finally found the determination to try again, to not keep feeling like a failure about all my weight gain and lack of desire to exercise, I was told I couldn’t exercise. It turned out that it wasn’t just 2-4 weeks I couldn’t exercise though, because my pain worsened. My toes got blue some days, were frigid to touch others and I’d wake up at nightcrying because of the pain. So we added 2-4 more weeks of the air cast and no exercise and in response, I added even more weight because in not exercising, in not doing what I love to do, in not doing what I so desperately wanted to do, and in not being able to easily care for more kids, I became sad and angry. So I ate to feel better.

I totally adopted the mentality of, “Well, if I can’t get better, if I can’t get back into my groove, I might as well just eat, right? And if I can’t get out and talk walks in the fall, kick up the leaves, and smell in the fresh air for hours on end like I love to do and look forward to do then, well screw it, I’ll just eat some more and let my self-pity party grow!”

And grow it did.

Yes, my morale and weight got worse by the day, as did my foot. I had been allowed to start walking a little without the air cast and immediately started feeling bone rubbing against bone. After 2 months in an air cast, and no exercise at all, an MRI confirmed that I had a small fracture as well and that I needed a firm cast for 4-6 weeks. 4-6 weeks of my mom moving in and having to help care for me and my 4 boys around the clock. 4-6 weeks of being completely dependent on someone else to drive me everywhere for did I forget to mention this was my RIGHT foot?! And 4 – 6 weeks more weeks of no exercising, of carrying around all sorts of pent up and growing stress that has no way to get out, of carrying around all sorts of ugly self feelings.

For the last two and half months, I start every day hobbling to the bathroom and then looking in the mirror only to see new rolls of fat, new lines of ugly, new feelings of failure…failure that even though I couldn’t exercise, that didn’t mean I couldn’t eat healthy. Feelings of failure that even though I couldn’t walk, I could still choose to sit outside and enjoy fall, my favorite season. Feelings of failure that even though I actively felt gratitude that my situation could be worse, that even though I had started to accept my injury and the fact that weight gain was slightly inevitable because I wasn’t moving at all, that I still looked in the mirror and thought, “Darnit. Just get it together and embrace the situation and stop feeling angry at the situation and yourself!”

But last week after my first cast came off and I got a fresh new one, I decided that I didn’t have to spend the next two weeks miserable. That I could stop it NOW. That I would stop it NOW. That I would change my attitude NOW. I decided last week that I would try to find a solution to my predicament, that I would try to find the inner strength to start lifting weights, doing push ups on my knees, to doing sit-ups, to eating healthy.

What motivated me? My kids.

My mood has deteriorated over the last two and a half months. I snap more. A lot more. And I don’t like it at all. I have a broken foot already from falling; I refuse to have a broken heart because I fell down the slippery slope of getting into my old yelling habits.

I no longer wanted my cast to push me to snap from frustration. So I wrote myself a BIG reminder to keep it together. After this, my boys colored all around it. My beautiful cast ever!

I no longer wanted my cast to push me to snap from frustration. So I wrote myself a BIG reminder to keep it together. After this, my boys colored all around it. My beautiful cast ever!

Snapping a lot is my first signal that I need to re-group and re-group I have. I learned on my Orange Rhino Challenge journey that I need exercise to relieve stress, to be in a good place to yell less and love more. And that I need to eat healthy because when I eat junk, I feel like junk and act like an absolute B…. and that is definitely not a loving more type of place to be.

I currently physically push myself around on a scooter and crutches as I emotionally push myself to exercise daily and eat better so that yelling won’t become a daily thing in our house again. And I push myself daily to keep on being as positive as I can, as grateful as I can, and to hold on to as much perspective as I can that things really could be worse because I know that these three mentalities keep me calm and less likely to get all worked up and want to yell.

And so I have done all the above, and the snapping hasn’t reduced, and I haven’t felt like a failure anymore. Scratch that. I didn’t feel like a failure anymore until this morning.

Until this morning when I got on the stupid scale (that might just finally be thrown out) and it told me all my hard work wasn’t paying off. I wanted to quit my efforts, go eat a bagel with cream cheese AND butter and eat another one for lunch and then scream at my son for doing um, um, nothing. But I didn’t. Because of all the craziness in my life right now that is uncertain: when will the cast come off, when will I walk again, when will I drive again, when will I not need my mom living with me to take care of my kids with me, when, when, when?, there are three certain truths that I miraculously remembered this morning:

  1. I might not lose the weight as fast as I want since I am injured, but I certainly won’t lose any if I quit; quitting would achieve nothing but more feelings of failure.
  2. Exercising and eating healthy isn’t just about weight management, it’s about yelling-less management and that is the more important result than what the scale says!
  3. “For this thing we call “failure”, it’s not the falling down, it’s the staying down.” ~ Mark Pickford

Ah, yes. If I quit I don’t know what could have been. Ah yes, I need to focus on the really important goal, what matters most to me. And ah yes, I am not a failure because I keep on getting back up and trying again. These three truths kept me on my healthy, positive groove today; they kept me from giving up. And you know what, every day on my Orange Rhino journey when I don’t think I can keep it together for another second, when I feel I am failing or not doing “good enough,” these truths help me yell less and love more. They are powerful truths to say the least and I am so happy that my journey to not yell helped me to fall upon them.