I was not pleased about the recent turn of events in a relationship.
It was hot out, the end of July, and I was running behind in my schedule for the day. I was angrily cutting vegetables, completely preoccupied with the low budget drama playing out in my mind, missed the carrot and got my finger instead.
What I learned over the next few minutes, days, and weeks while my little injury healed felt big. Following are nine of my notes to myself from that time.
1. Priorities. Sometimes, all of a sudden, the only reasonable thing to do is drop to your knees and weep.
2. We all need a cosmic camp counselor on call. If you feel safe to dial someone’s number while you’re bleeding and crying and that person’s reaction is, “Stay put, I’m coming over right now,” keep a permanent place at the table of your heart for that friend.
3. Listen to the whispers so that life doesn’t have to shout. First it’s an insightful post that catches your attention on Instagram. Get the message? No. Ok, then perhaps second it’s a pang in your gut during a conversation that feels difficult. Still not listening? Maybe next you get worked up into a self righteous rage while chopping carrots and nick your finger. Does life have your attention now or does the volume still need to be raised?
4. Cloth band-aids are now a non negotiable item in my household. The day after I hurt my finger, Liza and I attended a bath house. The cloth band-aid she gave me stayed on for hours in and out of saunas, a steam room, many dunks in the cold pool, and a shower. OMG. Plastic bandages, no more.
5. Physical pain can be a permission slip to process emotional pain. When my finger got in the way of the carrot and I reacted with huge tears, at first it was totally about the discomfort and fear about my injury. Then I thought I was crying about a difficult relationship situation. And then I realized that I was weeping in grief about my aging great aunt.
Other people’s mortality, unrequited romantic love, fears about world events — these all can warrant a big cry. If those grievances are not being grieved on their own time, experiencing a release in reaction to an excruciating injury can pave the way for relief about other seemingly unrelated topics.
Want to check in more about grieving? Here’s the biggest misconception about the five stages of grief.
6. We can make new choices. The day I accidentally cut my finger, I was feeling pissed off about an agreement I’d made with a friend. I did not like the choice I had made, but I forgot I could choose again.
In the weeks after my little injury, I was relentlessly invited back into the present moment because I’d get a painful pang in my finger whenever I tried to use my hand for any activity. This kept reminding me that life is happening now — not yesterday, and not tomorrow — and in every current moment I can make a new choice.
I made a new agreement with that friend shortly after the carrot rage accident, followed by many more revisions with that person in agreement land, because that’s something that we get to do, over and over again.
8. Everything is temporary. Pain is temporary. Pleasure is temporary. Life is temporary. Our bodies are fragile self healing paradoxical miracles (which tried to autocorrect to “mirages”). When I remember that this — whatever “this” is — is temporary, my tolerance to stay lucid, grateful, and open to learning can increase.
9. Healing takes time. If I can stay present with myself when hurt — whether it’s a physical injury or an emotional pain — I can keep the wound clean, protect it from further abrasion, give myself kisses and kind words and Reiki, and allow the healing to happen on life’s timeline.