Athletes, I’m talking to YOU!
Are you playing a sport you absolutely love? Are you dedicating your life to that sport? Does it take up the majority of your time? What happens if it’s taken away from you? What if you get injured, retire, or are unable to play the sport you have put so much time and effort into?
I am here to say that your life is NOT over when your career as an athlete is. It’s only the beginning of a new chapter.
I have been there. I am an athlete and I suffered an injury that brought me to my wits end. I had to miss many weeks of college, and could not play my sport for an entire season.
I have had the joy and privilege of playing volleyball starting when I was 12 years old. I have played volleyball every year, except one, and I continue to play to this day.
The one year I was unable to play, I was a sophomore in college playing at my school. It was winter season and a friend and I decided to go snowboarding. Little did I know that day of snowboarding would change my life forever.
I grew up skiing on the slopes and switched to snowboarding at the same age I started playing volleyball. Needless to say I have been snowboarding for many years. On this particular day I was speeding through and ended up catching an edge and went flying about 30 feet, rolling multiple times and ended up on my back. During my fall I broke my humerus (the upper bone in your arm) in half. From that moment on, my life would be different.
I went through the grieving process. I started with denial. I would wish that I was in a bad dream and wake up and my arm would be back to normal. I didn't want to be in a cast and not be able to use my arm. I would close my eyes hoping the cast would be gone with I opened them. (Sounds crazy I know, but I was desperate.)
Then I became angry. Angry with myself for not being more careful. Angry that I went snowboarding during my volleyball season. Angry that I broke my arm!
I then started bargaining telling myself, “if only I was a better snowboarder, this wouldn't have happened.” “If I didn't go down that run, I wouldn't have fallen.” I was bargaining with God asking him to trade for things in order to heal me. Trying to figure out a way to make everything back to the way it used to be.
Once I realized this was my reality, I went into depression. I was so frustrated, and unhappy with my circumstances, unable to sleep well because of the position I had to lay in due to my arm being in the state it was in (to this day I cannot fall asleep laying on my back because that’s the position I had to sleep in for 3.5 months with a cast and then a brace. It brings back memories.) I would mope around feeling sorry for myself. I was unable to participate in my clinical at school (being an athletic training major it’s very hands on. I cried in one of my clinicals), I was uncomfortable, I couldn’t do my own hair. I had to learn to brush my teeth, eat, and write with my left hand. I was not myself.
By the grace of God, and the prayers and support of friends and family I began to accept this was my state and I needed to start dealing with it and try to see the positive in it all. I began looking at my situation as a way to connect with other injured athletes. And to this day this is what I believe the reason is for me enduring this injury. I am now able to connect with injured patients and athletes on a deeper level because I have been there! I know what they are going through. I am able to empathize with them!
And this is why I tell you this. I empathize with you for what you are going through. I know first hand what it’s like and I want to help you walk through the grieving process and help you to discover your identity is not in what you do, but in who you are. We are in this together.
(I may look happy in this photo, but this must have been my denial phase...thinking it was going to magically disappear.)
And let me tell you, I went through physical therapy, worked out really hard and was able to play in the next season of volleyball, and every year after. AND I still absolutely LOVE snowboarding and go every year!
If this is something you really resonate with, I have created a course on the Grieving Process. I walk you through step by step. You can check it out here