the mess

The first time I had ankle surgery, it was on accident. I had had no choice but to trust the medical personnel taking care of me, at a point when my trust in institutions and helping people in general was pretty low. I was really lucky to land in excellent, compassionate hands with my surgeon. A catastrophic physical experience turned out to be healing on many other levels.

This time, surgery is happening on a voluntary-but-needed basis, and I have been sort of surprised by the psychological preparation I’m finding I’ve needed to do alongside the logistical planning. There are all the surface-level fears of things going wrong on the operating table, infections, etc., and then all of the other fears involved in trusting other people with one’s life, being at the mercy of others.

The other thing that’s happened more recently is having rolled a big stone of shame off of my body and realizing it doesn’t belong to me. Getting rid of that has allowed all of these other things to emerge, like they were snakes plugged up in a hole in my stomach. On the one hand, they have been fairly frightening to contend with and slippery to grasp, uncontrollable at times, and consuming more of my resources that I’d like.

On the other hand, letting them out has cleared out so much space and made me so much more fully human. A lot of them are emotions I wasn’t allowed to have or could not allow myself to have at the time of the incidents, for one reason or another, usually because survival demanded something different, and because they were totally obscured by all the hot dark burning shame for just being or for not knowing. Letting those emotions run their course now has been difficult, it’s sort of happened spontaneously and unexpectedly like a geyser that just opened up to the sky. At times I can barely keep up with them.

I’m positive that there’s a lot more I can learn about dealing well with them without also affecting others, but on the whole it’s been a cleansing process which has brought more internal compassion and tranquility. I don’t know if or when it will be completed, but what I do know is that these days it’s been really rapid.