Breaking the shell

breaking the shell

You’ve surely heard why a bird can’t be helped out when breaking the shell of it’s egg for the first time. Newborn birds need to fight and struggle to be free of their shell in order to develop the strength and power needed to survive their crucial first days and grow further, to adulthood.

In contrast, human newborns aren’t expected to do much more than survive the birthing experience and don’t consider the broader concepts of ‘breaking the shell’ as directly, or personally.  Growing pains. Rites of passage.  We’ve created our own analogies for the process of breaking and healing and growing.

We can all overuse analogies at times.  I’ve thrown ‘rebirth’ about freely in conversation instead of ‘healing’ for my emotional and spiritual health, without necessarily considering rebirth at a cellular or practical level.  For adult humans, it’s easy to consider healing processes as rebirth when they’re usually just adaptation and acceptance processes. Not so physical. It’s rare you’re literally born anew.

And that’s fine, of course. It’s just a word at the end of the day. But lately I’m having to really fight the physical connotations of rebirth, too.  They’re proving to be the most difficult, as I literally did come back from the dead a few years back – and it’s the physical aspects of this rebirth analogy ever since that have been the hardest to overcome.

The point of no return for me was experiencing a horrific 18′ drop onto my side which collapsed my rib cage and burst my left kidney.  I bled out and briefly flatlined and have been fighting my way back from it ever since.

At first, the physical aspects of my rebirth were entirely physical.  I’m not even sure I really was healed enough to consider – let alone deal with – the emotional and mental aspects yet.  I couldn’t do much of anything for the first 3 months besides lay in bed.  My body atrophied immensely in those 3 months- exercise being heavily restricted for yet another 3 months after that before I was really able to work out in any meaningful way.  And half a year of inaction caused it’s own damage.

After 6 months, I tried to start concentrating on the more emotional aspects of coming back to life after taking my first baby steps forward physically.  My marriage was starting to fall apart however, and ultimately didn’t survive the trauma.

In my attempts to deal with the emotional fallout, my right ACL and medial meniscus blew out at the gym related to complications from my accident.  And I then found myself back to a 12-month healing cycle again, stuck in bed for another 3 months and then trying to come back to semblance of health for the next 6 to 9 months.

By this point, my marriage had entirely dissolved and I found myself a single father learning to walk again.  I’ve only just really started to be able to run as I type this post.  And I think it’s this recurring back/forth of physical and emotional gut-punches that really start to take it out of you.

I really do feel like I rediscovered myself, who I am, who I want to be, all of those wonderful focus points that can get blurry in a relationship.  My rebound period was both awkward and illuminating, and I was able to really find myself again after 18 years of being someone else’s other half.  To do that while staying close friends with my ex is something I’ll always take a ton of pride in.  I’ve even been dipping my toes into dating a bit (with someone incredible) and it’s felt awesome.  That emotional side of my rebirth was starting to feel fucking amazing.

You can guess where this is going.
I recently was gut-punched again on multiple levels, and finding myself back in that state of breaking free of physical and emotional shells.

Physically, I seem to be dealing with the fallout of having only 1/3rd of my left kidney functional, and my body’s final attempts to clean things out after a few years of chugging along at partial strength.  It would appear I’ve got a few kidney stones backing up that are making things quite uncomfortable.  It started as occasional discomfort in my very-lower abdomen and (ahem) private parts, and over time has increased to some numbness and pain.  I’ve already passed a few stones (which is some rather excruciating pain right there), so the prospect of having a few whopper kidney stones yet to deal with isn’t so cheery, to be frank.

Emotionally, this has been a huge pain in the ass.  All the physical trauma’s both made me feel bitchy and depressed (i.e. the fallout of dealing with the increasing pain), and turned my extracurricular life embarrasingly inconsistent over recent months.  Let’s just say that numbness and pain isn’t so awesome during a romantic evening, and leave it at that.  Guys never deal with these matters well, and I’m no exception- so there’s all that.

I’ve also had to deal with a very tedious and drawn-out process in dealing with a delusional, paranoid neighbor next to the home I’m selling in Oakland. My compassionate side wants to overlook some things, help her get over her issues, and not absorb her negative energy, but my emotional reserves are low and my options are limited.  I’ve had to consult a lawyer and take faceless action in a way I’m not personally comfortable, and to be fair- that’s also really drained me lately. I do know that once this is settled, our house is sold, and I can stand fully on my own independent feet again – that I’ll feel so much better.

So I’ve gotta say, rebirthing into this world 4-ish years ago has been a rebirth from both emotional and physical perspectives.  I’m still kinda rebirthing in fact, even though I keep thinking I’ve finished.  Maybe that’s ok.

I’m starting to realize that breaking the shell isn’t something you do once, it’s something you’ll continually do at various scales of effort throughout your life.  You build up walls, form protective cocoons, create your own shells in the life you’re given as you take on damage and baggage.  And then it’s really up to you to break through them again. Push your way through to freedom. Or, you’re likely doomed to repeat the process again until you’ve learned what you needed to learn to survive the next chapters of your life.

It’s really helping me to cope with it all, frankly.  And honestly- although these kidney stones are painful as f@#k right now, I’m far better knowing this is just a physical hurdle to cross.  I’ve become good at breaking those shells.  And honestly, they tend to heal a lot faster than the mental hurdles.  So, on with it.

May your weekend be full of light and promise.