Resilience isn’t linear. I only write this again to remind myself of it. These words I wrote, these words I believe, these words, I’ve lived, that I’m living now as I sit down to write them. Resilience isn’t linear.
My story, thus far, as an athlete, as one who has survived a traumatic accident, and worked her way back to elite performance, is far more than a recovery story. In the pages of my book, Out and Back, I share my experiences, raw and unfiltered, not to wallow in grief, and self-pity, but as a means to create a community connected through struggle and overcoming challenges.
But, with the publication of my book, came some sobering news which immediately made me question my story, my resilience, and my ability to overcome. It made me doubt whether or not my story, contained within the pages of Out and Back, should be shared. The news was of another injury. This time, a broken left foot, in the form of a badly displaced 4th metatarsal. To add insult to injury, as they say, this break would not only require rest, but also surgery and a non-weight bearing period of recovery. All I could do was break down into tears, yell, and wonder why, yet again, I was faced with this.
As athletes, injuries are a part of the game. When it comes to elite performance, injury avoidance is even more of a fine line while chasing peak physical fitness. I was in the middle of training for my Everesting of Green Mountain, to celebrate the launch of my book, Out and Back. I remember feeling like I was ready–tomorrow–to do it. I was trained, fit and feeling good. That afternoon, I broke my foot while running.
I know from extensive, personal experience recovery is not, in fact, linear. Resilience, then, isn’t either.t. Resilience, to me, is the unyielding pursuit of learning. Through challenges and setbacks, we learn, we grow, we become stronger, we become different, we become new versions of ourselves, better equipped to handle challenges in the future.
So why did this setback and injury feel so insurmountable to me? Why did I feel this deep anger and sadness and sense of loss? Shouldn’t I, of all people, be the most equipped to handle something of this nature? The truth is, it hits hard. It hits me deeply. It not only makes me question my story and my resilience thus far, but it also forces questions of my ability to overcome yet another injury.
I know, deep down, that I will overcome it. I will draw on my skills, my ability to recover, my community and my inner strength, but right now, in this moment, I’m struggling.
I’m deeply saddened. I’m angry. These emotions, I realize, come out of my love and passion for my life as an athlete, for running, cycling and moving through the mountains. I live passionately and love deeply, so with news of this injury, of course there is sadness, and it calls upon a not too distant memory of my previous recoveries. Equal parts painful and heartbreaking. Memories of the daily struggles that will ensue–like daily life with crutches, non-weight bearing, butt-scooting up stairs, learning to walk and then run again–and the aching loss of self, that feeling which accompanies losing something you love. It’s painful.
Writing these words down brings tears to my eyes. Yet, these words also contain hope. Because resilience isn’t linear. I am living proof of that. I’m a reminder that in this darkness, there is struggle and there is also discovery. This setback is a refresher in a way, a reminder that even after all that I’ve gone through, and all the skills I’ve learned, and already possess, there are always new opportunities for learning and sharpening of the tools I already have in my (quite) extensive recovery tool box.
I think this injury, although painful in its timing, only accentuates my resilience highlighted in Out and Back. Even though I’m sad and struggling right now, that doesn’t mean I won’t find meaning in this journey too. It doesn’t mean that for you either, if you find yourself struggling again.
Resilience isn’t linear after all, and each time we face it, take the time to be angry, to feel the loss associated with change, is necessary. But don’t forget, the power that comes with overcoming struggle, to use it as a catalyst to surprise yourself with the person that comes out on the other side.