Walking My Way to Healing
When I first found out that it was unlikely I’d ever have a child, I walked. I put the leash on my dog and we just went walking. We walked for miles. We walked for hours. We didn’t have any particular destination in mind. We just walked.
I needed to be outside of the four walls of our house. I needed to feel the vastness of something, anything, beyond what I was experiencing. I needed to know I wasn’t alone, so I walked along busy streets and on well-used paths. I walked through neighborhoods, near homes, churches, and schools.
I needed to know there was more going on the outside because I felt like my insides were suffocating me.
See, the emotions I was experiencing felt huge. They felt bigger than anything I’d ever felt before. Grief was looming over me like a massive Sequoia and hopelessness stood nearby like a ginormous skyscraper. And, yes, it did feel that disconnected — a huge part of nature on one side and a human made building on the other. I was that disoriented.
Where I live, in Indianapolis, we have some busy streets and big trees. Walking among them both I was reminded that there is something bigger going on — something bigger than my loss of a dream. Those walks helped situate me back into the natural order of the world. There are small creatures running for their lives trying to cross the street. There are emergency vehicles rushing to pick up an injured person. There are blue heron flying across the sky to find a body of water. It’s all there, and I was right in the middle of it. And, being in the middle of it, I was able to let go of those huge emotions taking over my mind, if only for a moment.
There’s something about moving my body that allows me to find a new perspective, or at least set my current one to the side. When I’m moving there are particular things that need my attention — keeping my dog safe, watching traffic, paying attention to the path in front of me. All of these require me to be present, to be aware, to be here right now. And when I’m here right now, it’s harder for me to be focused on what might have been, but is no longer.
Staying present didn’t mean I was without emotion.
I cried and walked for days. I wore sunglasses as much as possible. It was pointless though — even with my eyes covered, it’s not hard to tell I’ve been crying. I’ve always wanted a cry face made for the movies… slow tears falling down my cheeks, sad eyes, but not too sad. Instead my face gets all red and blotchy and stays that way for hours so even if I’ve stopped crying everyone will know that something is or was wrong. Lovely. So yes, I cried a lot and honestly, I didn’t really care if people saw my blotchy face or not. Usually it was enough to keep people at a distance, which is what I wanted anyway.
I did my best to stay present, but at times the last conversation I had with my doctor would just spin in my head over and over again. I’d get so wrapped up in the stories in my mind that I’d wonder, “When did I get here? How long have I been walking?” That would be enough to bring me back to the present moment again — one foot in front of the other, intentionally noticing the scenery around me, and long, deep breaths.
It’s been two-and-a-half years since those walks began. I still walk these days, although now it’s with two dogs! Just this morning as I was walking with our younger dog, I was remembering those long walks not that long ago. I could see certain trees and remember clearly particular streets. I remember that one part of the path when I cried after getting off of the phone with a nurse confirming the results of my most recent blood work.
And then, I looked at where I was right now. I looked at the beautiful morning sky. The same sky that carried that blue heron. I looked at the street in front of me. A street that small creatures still have to navigate. I listened to the neighborhood waking up. A neighborhood that fills with sounds of sirens now and then. I felt my body moving forward, step by step. A body that is still infertile. It’s all the same, and yet it’s all so different.
Over the last few years, I’ve walked my way to healing. Of course, there were many other contributions to my healing too. But, walking played a big part because I was in creation, I was aware of life going on around me, and I was present to all that is within me.
I would have loved to find my healing on that first walk, but it doesn’t work that way.
It has taken one slow walk after another, and even still, I know I have many more walks to go in my future. I may never be fully healed in this lifetime, but I’m grateful I can take the path toward a life of wholeness and healing, one step at a time.
Did you enjoy this read? Please leave a comment and share the link below!
Anne chooses to live a good, full life despite a diagnosis of infertility. Through her writing, she explores the many ways that loss, pain, and grief provide opportunities for growth, healing, and transformation. In paying attention to the ordinary, Anne discovers the extraordinary and loves to share those discoveries with the world. / Read more of Anne’s writings at annebrock.com or connect with her on Instagram.