© 2020 Erin Schrode. About Erin. Contact.

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Tucked Away FRom The World

December 15th, 2019

This is where I’ve been — away from the world, away from my norm, away from people. These few days were simultaneously what I needed and entirely too much. Did I have space, both physically and mentally? Yes. Did I slow my pace? Yes. Did I breathe deeply? Yes. Was any of that transformative? Not at all.

I felt safest when tucked away in my room, looking out upon the world. Through my full wall of windows, I saw only nature. I sat and stared for hours, whether morning, noon or night. I discovered beauty in snow falling gracefully from the sky. I delighted in the dreamlike qualities of such a serene landscape. I savored the refreshing cool that alleviated pressures and pains throughout my body. I relished in the quietude, the stillness, the calm.

There was no revelatory moment, nothing exceeded my wildest imagination, it did not work wonders, no breakthroughs were achieved — all of which is okay, all of which I accept, all of which holds meaning, as I try to view it in the context of being part of an ever-evolving, unconditional, experiential learning process. I was not and am not trying to escape reality. I maintain no unrealistic expectations. I did not go in search of something in particular or want anything other than, as I wrote in my intentions prior to taking this short break: to rest, pause, breathe, to relax, destress, unwind, to feel safe, calm, supported. And that I did.

I lay low, yet did more than I have in months. I sat in silence, and also talked to others. I felt rested, then exhausted. I slept, ate, took medicines, napped, wrote, showered, watched Christmas movies — nothing new there — and deepened my healing work through prompts, meditation, breath, autogenic training and biofeedback, a growing arsenal of tools and techniques for injury, trauma and wellness. My days and nights blurred together, especially as the sun rose later and set earlier than I am accustomed to, and I had no packed schedule of doctors appointments, procedures or medical treatments.

I pushed my boundaries, stepped far beyond my comfort zone, engaged with others and the world in limited ways that, on rare occasion, began to resemble some elements of my past, a first in over three months since my accident. I tried to simply practice living, without delusions of finding real or lasting joy, let alone resuming normalcy — only humbly seeking, recognizing and accepting meager pleasures, tiny mercies, fleeting relief, minor alleviation of suffering, little distractions, something, anything amid remnants of a life I once knew.

And while I did more than I may have thought I could, I also did more than I was comfortable with. When so much is out of my control on this recovery journey, it has become very important for my sense of safety, security and sanity to control what I can — and I suddenly exposed myself to too many variables. Stresses, discomfort and fears set in with vengeance at least once a day, if not multiple times, sometimes self-generated, often triggered by others’ doings unintentionally, but always spiraling downwards into exacerbated pain and anguish. I clearly survived all, despite physical and psychological tumult, but needed to retreat frequently and now must recalibrate. I am not the person I was before — and I am not ready for such actions or interactions, which are neither healthy nor tolerable for my body and brain. The decision to go on this trip may have felt right, been safe for body and mind and received the official okay and widespread encouragement from various doctors ahead of time, yet in reality, no aspect of the experience added newfound ease or ushered in positivity, as many had indicated or at least hoped. Nonetheless, I have to believe everything serves some purpose.

My favorite moments did not occur while actively engaged in healing work, exploring ideas, or even endeavoring to do much at all. The simpler reigned supreme, like watching snow fall beyond the glass, the flakes sticking to branches in ways I’d never before seen, a fresh dusting covering every surface in sight, literally changing the color of the scenery before my very eyes — painting the peaceful landscape a shade of white that matched the tranquil winter sky during the few hours of daylight. I went to a post office in search of a postcard to mail to my mother and grandmother, and felt the presence of my beloved grandfather while flipping through books of stamps, the likes of which he cherished and collected for decades, gaining appreciation for small tokens of people, places and world events. I watched The Holiday at two in the morning (and wept) while bundled up in a faux fur blanket, letting my mind wander to possibilities of fate, family, fun, failure, future. I ordered real food from real menus and then proceeded to slice, dice, mash, and hand or spoon-feed myself seasonal nourishment, even though it was uncomfortable, typically painful, and took me far longer to finish a dish or meal than anyone else. I learned that the soles of my boots have words etched into them that leave imprints on the snow, making me pause, take note and become all the more cognizant of the messages I am sending and literal mark I am leaving on our earth.

While welcome, my new surroundings provided no novel perspective on life, revelatory insights or magical healing powers. While lovely, this experience has not left me feeling any sense of renewal, increased clarity or sudden progress. While grateful, I now return to a life that is no less confusing, complex or chaotic than the one I left. The pace of healing perplexes, infuriates and exhausts me (and doctors alike), still somehow and someway, I trust it is happening with, for and because of me. And in the process, I am indeed deserving of respites in nature, interludes of beauty or simply moments away. Just because.

Read more of my journey here.