When I was a student, someone said to me that I would never again have as much free time in my life as I had then, while I was studying. Indignant, I refused to believe it, thinking myself so stressed and busy with my ten hours of lectures a week, and homework that I rarely did. But they were right. Life since has been a largely enjoyable, occasionally stressful, frequently hectic whirl of activity – of work, parenting, freelancing, more study, creativity, running, spirituality, friends, family and more. Over the last five months I have had to slow down and finally I have come to an enforced stop. I have the luxury of paid time off work so I can concentrate on getting better, but it’s strange to have no structure to my days unless I create one. I’m not complaining, just observing that the free time and lack of responsibilities you crave when you’re overwhelmed with the busyness of life looks different when it’s all you have. I’m trying to settle into recovery being my main priority and to let go of the feeling that I ought to be achieving something.
There are some things that you can watch heal. Wounds become scars that then slowly fade. My arms gradually stretch further up the wall as I faithfully do my exercises. Broken skin stops weeping and becomes smooth and pink again. But I suspect that it’s a mistake to think that everything is ok once the physical effects of surgery fade and there is a lot more unseen healing that needs to take place deep within, regaining confidence, learning to trust again. I’m grateful for this space in which that can begin to happen and for the people who encouraged me to take the time my consultant recommended, rather than the minimum that I was going to allow myself.
These weeks of recovering from surgery will be the longest I haven’t run for years. I miss it, of course, but don’t trust my refigured body enough yet to try and obviously need to wait for the go ahead from my medical team. I’m getting some of my running fix vicariously through watching what my clubmates are up to, but also through a friend who ran through a forest when she was in Sweden the other week and had a strong sense that I was running with her. While my body is firmly in walking mode through London parks and streets, I love the idea that I was somehow running with her along trails and under trees – it made sense to me!
Meanwhile, a silent, soft fuzz of hair is appearing, unbidden, on my head, a welcome sign that my body is doing what it should and things are going in the right direction.
Photo: Jonny Baker. I’m enjoying the autumn leaves on my many walks through Ealing’s parks