A Broken Hip and Walking with a Harness

October 12, 2012

When I moved into the city I had some adjusting to do. Our little condo is situated on a block completely surrounded by one-way streets. This means that we have to take a tedious 10-minute lap around the block on the way to anywhere. It means we sit at four stoplights, use four turn signals, check four blind spots, and wait for slow-moving pedestrians to take their sweet time across the crosswalk four times.

The most recent city adjustment has been for the world’s most awesome dog. We had to get Bailey a harnessed leash so she would not run after a new squirrel-friend in the crosswalk and…. I can’t even finish that sentence. The purple harness fits around her torso and she hates it. It is kind of a like a bra for dogs, which builds camaraderie with humans.

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Bailey walks funny and tries to roll around in the grass to pull it off.  She is going through her mid-twenties in dog years, which I hear can be a temperamental time in self-discovery. I am hopeful that she will self-discover and embrace the harness by the time she is thirty.

Bailey and I share most things, you see: scrambled eggs, bananas, and a deep passion for spooning.We also share frustrations with the harness, even though my harness looks a little different. It is a bit more figurative, wrapped around my right hip, and was never intended to keep me away from squirrels.

My harness was a broken hip. It was a reconstructive surgery that took a full year to recover from with lots of awkward and inappropriate pelvic stretching. The harness was super sexy, though:

Revision: the harness broke my heart. I had the privilege of running in the 2011 Boston Marathon, but couldn’t walk after it, let alone run. I had surgery five months later and was assured that marathons were over as well as avid running of any kind. It was a harness that trapped my insides and made me want to cry.

I did cry a lot and I watched a lot of Friday Night Lights while taking narcotic pain medicine. It was an emotional experience, but Coach Taylor was really there for me. Tim Riggins wasn’t awful to look at, either, but Mike doesn’t like when I bring that up.

This fragile, broken hip felt like an unfair harness, tethering me to a sedentary life that would maybe land me on The Biggest Loser someday. I wasn’t sure. At the time of surgery, I could count on one hand the number of weeks I had taken off from exercise in the past ten years. I didn’t know what would happen to me without running.

I am a bit driven, you see. I have one speed and it tends to drive me into crosswalks and cliffs and other dangerous places. Sometimes rescuing measures are a bit aggressive and violent and sometimes they break my hip.

I think maybe the broken hip was an important harness. I think maybe it was even a rescuing measure.

You see,  I have this tendency to spend time and energy on lots of dead, empty things, things that break my heart and sometimes my hip. Don’t get me wrong, running, exercise, and activity of any kind is a wonderful thing. I love it so much that I have loved it too much. I loved it so much that I crushed it into something else, like a kid eating birthday cake.

Deep down, I really wanted to love exercise for something that it wasn’t. I really wanted to use all of those miles to quiet the restlessness in me, but I would run and run and feel more and more restless. The finish line never felt good enough. I wanted to feel satisfied by getting skinny or getting strong or getting fast. I wanted the discipline of exercise to discipline out of me all the things I didn’t like about myself.

I really needed someone to reel me in, to reel in the crazy. I needed a Savior, preferably one that didn’t make me sweat so much.

I don’t know if God broke my hip or if he let me break my own hip or if it was all just a grand coincidence, but either way, brokenness has a way of healing us in unexpected ways and in unexpected places. It has a way of introducing us to a new love, true love, that we long ignored.

Harnesses have a way of rescuing us, even though they keep us from things we really love. Sometimes the things we really love aren’t actually the best things for us, like Coldstone or the Kardashians. Harnesses are maybe a mercy, even when they bind us up in our most sensitive places and when the healing hurts like hell.

Running, to me, was like a bad boyfriend who took me out to nice dinners and kissed me on New Year’s, but in the end made me feel inadequate and kind of fat. I really just needed to break up with him. It was really painful and ugly. Now, I’m trying to figure out how we can just be friends.

Yesterday I spent 20 minutes on an elliptical and it made my hip hurt. I spent time doing weird pelvic stretching and talking to God about this harness I don’t completely understand, this harness that squeezes tight even after I thought the healing was done. But the healing is not complete. It takes me a long time to release things that I really want to hold too tightly, the things my heart really wants to give itself over to.

It is even more confusing when the thing I want to hold isn’t bad. It isn’t drugs or gambling or pleather. It is good and healthy, but I just keep turning it into something crazy, something it wasn’t intended for. Sometimes I can’t be trusted with really good, fragile things, like exercise or babies.

As I was talking to the Lord while doing pelvic stretching (the best entrance to any sentence ever), I started to feel a little thankful for the harness. I started to think that maybe thankfulness is a symptom of healing. I was glad that someone loved me enough to keep me close to the thing that would love me back the best, which is Himself. Maybe he is protecting me from distraction and drawing me closer to Himself, which is a heartbreakingly beautiful thing.

I thought about this ex-boyfriend of running and how we had all of these great times together, but in the end he just isn’t my true love. Maybe we can be friends, but maybe we just need to take a break so healing can occur. I don’t know. It’s messy.

I’m now in my mid-twenties, the time of temperamental self discovery and I think it is just time to give myself over to true love and stop messing around with ex-boyfriends. I am hopeful that I will self-discover and embrace the harness by the time I am thirty.

In the meantime, I’m learning to heal and trying not to pull so hard on this merciful harness. I am doing all of this while pelvic stretching, which helps. It really does.

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  • Raigan Holgate

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My sister ( Haydn Holgate ) asked me to check out this blog and especially this story. This week I’m going into surgery for a spinal fusion. This is something that’s normally for 40 year old men, not really a common this for a 16 year old girl. Reading this story gave me reassurance and really made me feel better. Thank you again for sharing your story. Also this blog is amazing! I look forward to it keeping me occupied in the months ahead. Thank you, God bless you.(:

    • Raigan,
      Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to comment!
      I’ll be praying for you this week as you go into spinal surgery! I always tell people that I had hip surgery at 24 because I am ridiculously productive— I did in 24 years what it takes most people 60+ yrs to do. I consider that an accomplishment and you should too… it sounds like you are the most productive 16 year old I know.

      Sending love and praying your recovery is anchored in hope-


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