I’ve fallen, and it takes a village to get me up

While Adrian and I were at an orchard party yesterday, I missed a step and took a header onto concrete. I lay there taking inventory, trying to figure out what body part hurt worst, and people rushed to my aid. I sat up and determined that my right foot had suffered the worst damage. A reflexologist immediately grabbed my ears and applied pressure in spots that help with pain. An emergency physician checked out my ankle, assured me that it wasn’t broken, and prevented a trip to the hospital. The host of the party brought an ace bandage and the physician’s wife, an emergency nurse, wrapped my foot in it. A neighbor brought arnica ointment and tablets, and I’m not exactly sure where the ibuprofen and a Ziploc bag full of ice came from. People helped me walk to a lawn-type recliner that they had placed in the sun for me (I was in shock and shaking), and they made me elevate my ankle and put ice on it.

As I lay on the recliner, I thought about the fact that we were completely out of hay, our goats had nothing to eat, and that I would be unable to go to the feed store after the party to get a couple bales of hay as I had planned. When I mentioned this, a woman I’d never met said that she needed to get a couple bales of hay for her goats, too, and offered to pick some up for me and bring them to our house. (Even here on rural Whidbey Island, it’s rare to be at a party with someone who also has goats, much less someone who has also run out of hay and was also headed to the feed store to get exactly the same thing you were planning to get after the party.)

My fall could’ve been an accident, carelessness, or dumb luck, but if this experience had a message in it, I wanted to hear it. I had literally missed a step. Might that be a metaphor for missing a step in real life? Had I overlooked something? Or maybe I just need to slow down.

Today, I thought of the friends, acquaintances, and strangers who had cared for me and how completely and instantaneously supported I felt. Tears came to my eyes, and I realized that that was the message: shit will happen, but you will get through it with the help of your community.

My foot hurts, but I can walk, and I have learned that I don’t always have to walk alone.

The psychic therapist

I once had a therapist who earned her living as a psychic before she switched careers and became a counselor. Her psychic skills were kind of handy when my ex-husband and I were going through marriage counseling, because identifying and articulating emotions was a real struggle for him. She could just “reach” in, dig around, and “pull out” some emotions for his consideration. When she narrowed down his options that way, he was able to identify how he felt.

Despite our efforts, my ex and I decided to end our marriage. Several years later, I was in a relationship with another man and went back to the same therapist. She insisted that he and I would end up together. But as time went on, it became clear that he was not right for me. Although I shared events, insights, and emotions that led me to believe that we were not meant for each other, she continued to insist that we were. So, I redoubled my efforts and kept trying.

In the end, my emotions and her psychic perspective on things were at such odds that I broke up with the guy and fired her. It taught me an important lesson. As tempting as it is, I don’t look outside myself for guidance anymore. That means no psychics, horoscopes, or other means of predicting the future. But it also means that I now heed my own inner guidance above that of experts, gurus, teachers, clergy, parents, and friends.

This is not always easy, and is something that I have to recommit myself to repeatedly–especially as I bump around in the dark trying to find my way. It is much easier to trust the sometimes loud and insistent guidance of others than it is to listen for that still, small voice inside myself. But I believe it’s what’s right for me. Fact is, I believe it’s right for us all.