I knew the moment it happened. My entire knee shifted out of place (yep, gross) and I heard and felt the pop. It had been described to me too many times before as a player and coach. Lying on the field I was PISSED, knowing I had torn my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
Injuries are hard not only because they are physically debilitating, but the mental and emotional toll they can take is almost harder than the physical injury itself. I prided myself on my physical well being, my strength, my resiliency as an athlete growing up and now coaching collegiate level women and passing on my knowledge on how to remain strong and healthy.
And in a moment, I found myself lying on the field with the very injury I had built a career on preventing. I was mad at myself and embarrassed. I cried (hard) when I got home. Like, ugly cried.
The recovery process was a powerful one for me. It was time consuming and a constant reminder that I had to ask for help and support, the kind that most of us are bad at asking for.
There was a change on the inside as well. I had to start separating the athlete I identified as and the person I actually was. When you wholly identify as one thing it can be a dangerous place to live. What happens when that one thing is taken from you? You lose the job, you become injured or (heaven forbid) sick, or something in your life changes. Then what?
The distinction of identifying with what you DO versus the person you ARE and can BECOME is an important distinction to make. When circumstances and abilities are taken from us, separating the two is the difference between growth and staying stuck. It’s a mindset shift to move beyond those circumstances to create new possibilities for yourself.
Seven months post knee surgery, and I now have a new perspective on what injuries look like, for myself and for my athletes. I can not only sympathize; I can EMPATHIZE with them. I know what it takes to get back physically, mentally, and emotionally. My worthiness is no longer wrapped up in my physical capabilities. You are more than just your body. Honor those things as well.
My plan has always been to get back to the soccer field. I love it too much to hang up the boots or to say I’m too old. If you love doing something, then find ways to keep doing them. Period.
To help me do those things and get back to the field, I am excited to follow Jen Sinkler’s new Lightning and Thunder program to help train that athletic piece of the pie. For me, it’s all about re-gaining the few steps I have lost.