A Healthy Stepmother . . . holds her pain gently.

A couple of months ago, I started having pain in my left ankle when I took a step. It wasn’t too annoying and I carried on with my half-marathon training walks. I got tired after a walk, but recovered quickly. Gradually, over the weeks and as the mileage increased, the pain intensified and it didn’t go away so quickly. My ankle began to hurt when I wasn’t walking. I began to wince when I took a step.

Then, two weeks ago, I realized my world had reduced to thinking of my ankle. It bothered me and I iced. I took an anti-inflammatory and iced again. I walked and iced. I iced and rested. Still I hurt. I iced. My ankle winced.

Yesterday, I went to the chiropractor and she looked at my foot and ankle and decided they were a little off, but mostly she was impressed by how twisted my sacrum was. After she did some gentle manipulations, I left the office feeling like something was really different.

As I walked the dogs this morning without a limp, I recognized that I had over-focused on my ankle. So much so that I hadn’t noticed that I’d quit moving my hip when I took a step. On the right side, my hip swayed when I took a step and on the left it was as if I had a leg that didn’t bend. With my sacrum untwisted, I could step down and sway to the left when I stepped on that foot.

The experience made me think of being in a stepfamily when things aren’t going right. Naturally, I focused on the  stuff that irritated. Often, I’d try to see if I could better the situation. Nothing changed. In fact, it often got worse. I hurt. I winced. It was not fun.

My world narrowed down to focusing on the irritations. They seemed huge and painful and they grew more and more irritating. Thinking of ways to make irritating things better took up a lot of time in my life. I became exhausted and unhappy. When I finally let go of even thinking of those things as irritating, when I finally paid attention to the other equally important things in my life, especially the ones I had control over, the pain went away. Almost overnight.

That was the same story with my ankle. When I stopped holding my left leg still when I took a step, my hip swayed and the pressure on my ankle decreased. I’m not as uncomfortable. I can feel the looseness and flexibility in my gait. There’s still a twinge or ache as the new pattern settles in to something more familiar, but the pain is about ten percent of what it was.

It was a good reminder for me to hold things gently, including the pain, especially the irritations.

7 thoughts on “A Healthy Stepmother . . . holds her pain gently.

    • Kate, great to hear that! And I was inspired by another person who commented here and so it seems we’re passing the cup of inspiration around, which is as it should be. Hope your husband sorts it all out.

    • 😉
      Thanks, Jill. Yeah, it suddenly became clear when the pain diminished. That’s when it dawned on me that it was THE same process when letting go of the stepmother pain.

  1. Really enjoyed reading your post today. I am also training for a half marathon and I find that often running can bring up many analogies to being a stepmom. I thought of one whilst running up the steepest part of my run today. It was hard, I didnt really want to do it, i knew no one would see me do it or congratulate me when i had finished but in my heart and soul i felt amazing!

    • Helen, welcome here!
      That’s interesting because I always find the uphills on my walks to be the “rest” but maybe it’s the rest for my mind as much as for my body. I know uphills will be hard, they take all my attention, therefore I am relieved of worrying about anything else. And, as I look back….some of the hardest stepfamily stuff has been the easiest for my husband and I to stay connected. We didn’t have anything pulling us apart, we knew what needed doing and we did it. It’s the day-to-day and things that aren’t as clear, those are the hardest……in walking that translates to walking 13 miles on FLAT. Ugh, no relief.

      But, regardless of what each of us perceives is our hard thing to do, when the hard thing arrives, I think we can widen the focus and go easy and gently. Next time you’re trudging up the hill, see if you can think of falling forward. Let your legs take your weight and just fall forward. Your other leg will catch you. It’s all about the leaning. Lean into it and voila…….not so much pushing to do. And, definitely revel in what you’ve done for you, because of you, in spite of whatever obstacles. One step at a time. Let me know how it goes.

  2. Oh my, I know exactly what you mean. And then the irritation, frustration, thinking we “should” be able to do it differently creeps in and the irritation can turn inward and be pretty ugly. Great to know the mantra helps.

    And, in my own life, I’m beginning to work with the issue of when is the subject a real issue that needs to be talked about, one that compromises my integrity if I don’t say anything…..versus when it’s something like the toilet seat that I need to soothe myself and move on. There is a big difference, and the soothing when there is really an issue that needs discussion or resolution between a stepmother and her partner are not what I’m suggesting. Silencing ourselves to keep the peace is also not good for the soul or the relationship, but, sounds like you’re aware of that.

    Also, great that you can get away, even for work. Hope you’re able to take advantage of those alone times to rejuvenate and recharge your batteries.

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