Fear is one of the biggest four letter words there is. There are an infinite number of things we can be afraid of, or even terrified of. And one of the biggest mountains that we must climb in life is facing those fears.
I'm not afraid of the dark, or spiders (unless they're big, obviously!)...but I have fears like everyone else. Despite being an excellent swimmer, I'm deathly afraid of sharks, jelly fish and anything else in the ocean that might hurt me. I get anxiety when it comes to talking to people I don't know (though I've gotten MUCH better about that since having kids). My sisters could tell you many stories about me sending THEM into the store to buy milk or making them call to order pizza because the thought of talking to someone made me sick to my stomach. I'm sure my husband can tell you stories too, but moving on!! EVERYONE is afraid of something. I'm sure if you ask yourself what your fears are, you'll be able to come up with a list bigger than you expected.
But my current fear is one I've never had before.
About 5 weeks ago, I was playing in a league volleyball game. My absolute favorite thing to do. I have loved volleyball since Junior High...played 4 years of varsity v-ball in high school, tried to walk-on to BYU's team in college (did intramurals when that failed!) and have played on a league team for the past couple of years. I love it so much I actually dream about it. Usually I'm missing a serve in those dreams, but anyway. The point is...I LOVE this sport. And before this particular game, I hadn't taken the proper time to stretch. My calf felt tight when we hit the court for the first game, but I ignored it and figured it'd loosen up as I played. I was wrong. Less than 10 minutes later I was lunging for a ball and felt a SNAP!! I knew instantly that this was a serious injury and I crumpled to the floor in pain. I pulled myself off the court with my arms and everyone rushed over to see what happened. I tried to be the tough girl and let my team continue to play and avoid a forfeit, but before long I had to admit this was worse than just a sprain and had my good friend, Janie, drive me to the ER.
I had played volleyball almost my whole life and never once had a real injury. And now I was being told I had torn a calf muscle. I was, of course, grateful that my Achilles tendon was still in tact, but a torn muscle is no joke. He put me in a walking boot, gave me a set of crutches and told me it'd be 4-6 weeks before I healed fully. I felt my heart sink.
Just two days before this injury, I had taught my very first solo Zumba class at the gym I had been attending for the last 4 years. This was my dream job...to be able to teach the people I had exercised next to and become such close friends with. And now I was being told I couldn't teach, let alone walk for the next month+. I was terrified that I would lose my brand new job, not to mention the ones I already had teaching elsewhere. Luckily I am blessed with amazing bosses who told me to take care of myself and my job(s) would be there for me when I got back. While that was a huge relief, it didn't prevent or prepare me for the fear that I would feel when that time came.
I was afraid...no...terrified...to try.
As those first few weeks passed after my injury, I kept feeling like "hey, I am feeling better, I don't need this walking boot! I can go back to life as it was. And then my body would prove me wrong. I wasn't afraid at first. But after two or three times of feeling that pain shooting up the back of my leg, reminding me that "HEY DUMMY! You're not supposed to be doing that!", I was sure that I'd never experience my "normal" again. THAT was when fear became a problem.
I was afraid to walk. I was afraid to carry my baby. I was afraid to go down the stairs or even step off a curb. I was afraid that 36 was my turning point and I was officially TOO OLD to live my life the way I wanted. Of course deep down I knew this was a buncha bullcrap, but I couldn't help but think it every day. I couldn't stop worrying that I'd never get to take another Zumba class, let alone teach one. I was sure I would never get to step on a volleyball court again as anything other than a cheerleader for my amazing team.
And all of those little fears added up to one really big one. I was terrified that this injury meant...I was going to get severely obese again. And THAT is the scariest thing of all. Sure, I'm still trying to work off the weight I gained during my pregnancy in 2014, but that was different. I was carrying a child. I wasn't "disabled" in any way. I could still exercise...and did. And even being back in the 260's (UGH), I was/am still extremely strong under all the excess weight. But I knew that if I couldn't workout anymore...chances were pretty high that it would be the undoing of everything I had spent the last 4 years working for.
I don't want to go back there. I don't want to get winded going up the stairs. I don't want to be unable to bend over to tie my shoes. I don't want to be unable to see my feet. I don't want to be too big to fit in a seat at the movie theater or in a stadium. I don't want to hide in my home 24/7 avoiding life because I'm afraid of what people will think. I'VE BEEN THERE ALREADY! I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK!
And I refuse to go back. So I sucked it up and got to work. I went to a chiropractor who worked some serious magic on my muscles and I took it easy. I forced myself to ignore "how good I felt" and instead do what my doctors were telling me. I let myself heal. And step by step I began to walk again...without that stupid boot on. Walking became going down the stairs without having to stop on each stair with both feet. Stairs became long walks with my husband and baby and bending down/squatting to pick things up. Baby steps. Until I finally went to take a Zumba class. And when that hour was over...and I was still standing and not feeling any discomfort, I knew I was ready to teach. And that...was everything.
I still listen to my body every time I move. I am careful not to step too big or put too much strain on my calf, but I exercise it and force it to pull it's weight. And it won't be long before I'm up in the air again slamming that volleyball back down to the floor while completely forgetting what happened back in January.
I'm sure most of this post has just sounded like one big rambling mess, but I felt it wasn't important for me to get it out there. The fear isn't completely gone, but I'm no longer letting it rule my life. I know there are people who have suffered far worse than a torn calf muscle and who aren't as lucky as I've been to get back to the life I want to live. I'm grateful that I'm able to. Fear won't hold me back anymore.