Crutches

My surgeon looked at me and evenly stated, “You need to stop using the crutches or they’re going to become just that – a crutch in your recovery process.”

If you go to dictionary.com and type in the word “crutch” the first definition reads:

“a staff or support to assist a lame or infirm person in walking”

And the second:

“anything that serves as a temporary and often inappropriate support, supplement or substitute; a prop”

An inappropriate support. A substitute. A prop.

A hindrance.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time for a crutch. In the weeks after my surgery they were my lifeline, or as my niece liked to call them my “walking sticks.” If I wanted to be mobile they were a necessity. The first time I tried to wean off of the crutches I had a setback. My leg and back throbbed and my walk was stunted by an awkward limp, which made it undeniably clear that I wasn’t ready yet. I couldn’t do it on my own, so I had to pick up the crutches again.

Physical therapy was exhausting, but it helped me become stronger and eventually outgrow my crutches. I could get around without them; however, my fear of another setback kept me holding on just a little too long. Then the crutches started to hold me back.

That morning in the surgeon’s office, looking at his dispassionate gaze, I decided it was time to put the crutches down for good. I wanted to run and play sports again, and there was no way I’d be able to do those things if I refused to let them go. So I did. And you know what? I started walking on my own.

Very short distances at first. A block or two, which quickly expanded to three or four. Next thing I knew I was able to complete my six block daily commute pain-free. I was still extremely limited, but I was walking on my own, without my support-turned-prop.

At some point we all have to put down our crutch, whether literal or figurative. Otherwise we allow it to become an inappropriate support that will hold us back from a full life. These “crutches” can be duties or belongings or memories. They can even be a job or a habit that’s become second nature. But I think the hardest thing is realizing when our crutch is a relationship – either platonic or romantic – that we must let go of.

After I started walking my crutches sat in my living room for a solid three weeks before I could bring myself to put them in storage. It was difficult to truly believe that I was no longer in need of their service.

The same is true for other things we’ve been using as a supplementary support. It takes time to let our crutches go, and that’s okay. What I’ve found is that the first step is simply to stop picking them up, to place them in the corner and look but don’t touch.

While I’ve finally retired my crutches for good {God willing!}, I’m still working on regaining the physical strength necessary to run again. It’s a daily process and, man, is it slow and at times painful. But also so freeing. I’m working on putting aside some of the less tangible crutches in my life as well – breaking bad habits, facing my fears instead of smothering them and distancing myself from the people who are holding me back.

I challenge you to consider, what’s your crutch? What’s hindering you from living your full life? And will you to find the strength to let it go before it holds you back?

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Elana says:

    Very nice…very nice!!! You have such a way with words….life lesson for sure. You’ve given me lots to think about….Thanks 🙂

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    1. Thank you! It’s definitely still something I’m processing too 🙂

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  2. mguerard says:

    This came with perfect timing in my life. Thank you for your excellent, clear and honest writing.

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    1. So glad to hear it! Thank you for reading.

      Like

  3. Tessy says:

    I think my phone is a big crutch! When I have a spare 5 minutes (or an hour) instead of doing something productive, I’ll scroll! This is actually counterproductive most of the time because I end up jealous, feeling “less than,” or feeling more disconnected even though I turn to social media to connect. Recently I’ve started reading a lot more during that time or sending a text to a friend.

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    1. Girl, I feel ya. This is so easy to do. Love that you’ve found a way to replace that crutch with something productive and fulfilling. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  4. Tara Stephenson says:

    Love this lady! I love that you are taking what has happened in the physical to other areas of your life too. Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, friend! It was a rough time, but hoping God can use it for good. I know he has in my own life!

      Like

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