For the last six months I’ve been having issues with my left shoulder. When things didn’t improve with basic stretching, I began physical therapy. When physical therapy failed to improve it much, I went to an orthopedist and got a steroid injection, then a few weeks later, an MRI revealed the details.
I have a bone spur and a partial tear in a tendon, and some excess cartilage, all of it explaining why the pain hasn’t eased up. Partial tears are often more painful than full tears. Who knew? After a second steroid injection failed to do much, I said yes to surgery.
I began to feel deep anxiety. I’ve been crying at the drop of a hat. My injured shoulder causes me to feel incredibly vulnerable. This anxiety wasn’t due to fear of surgery. It was due to me not being able to do my next project.
The injured shoulder is on my dominant side (quite common). The surgery itself is quite a simple arthroscopic procedure. But the recovery time could be as little as a few weeks or as much as a full year depending on what the surgeon finds once he goes in with the camera.
As an independent producer/director, I go from project to project. I’m a freelancer. The irony in all of this is I was offered the choice of three projects. No matter how much experience I have, finding the next gig is always a hustle to some degree, particularly when I am seeking work I can be proud of, something toward the higher good. So when a network says “We really want to work with you, so you decide which one,” it’s a wonderful place to be. But now? How will I break it to them that I’m down for the count? What’s more, I can’t be certain whether the surgery will be major or minor, so no definitive timeframe.
For a few days, there was some magical thinking going on. Maybe the recovery will only be a few weeks, and then I could do it. Maybe I’ll just wait until things lock and load on the project I picked, and THEN tell them! After all, things were still in the early stages, some legal issues still being worked out, agreements waiting to be signed, etc.
As I rationalized away, my anxiety only grew. My internal radar, my gut, my truth detector, was going off. I have built my reputation on integrity. I tell the truth. I don’t ignore, or ghost people or avoid difficult conversations. I am a straight shooter.
After a little meditation and a long talk with my husband, I knew I had to break the news. I had to call the network, the production company and my agent. This wasn’t something for email. This needed to be a phone call. The anxiety and vulnerability be damned. I needed to step up and be true to who I am. Be direct, be vulnerable, be all of it. Yes, it means lost income, yes, that is scary with a daughter in a high priced college. Yes, this means I may be giving up an awesome opportunity. Still, I would speak my truth.
I started dialing the first call, and literally all my anxiety bubbled over, the fear of giving bad news, of disappointing people, of looking unreliable. The person at the other end picked up. As I told him, my voice was cracking a bit. But I was in my power as much as I was in my vulnerability. I simply told my story. Here’s what’s happening. I don’t know when I’ll be out of the sling. I understand you may not be able to wait for me.
After that first and toughest call, there was a tremendous release. I suddenly felt at peace. I made my declaration, I did it in the space of love versus fear. I communicated my passion, I communicated my respect for the project and my collaborators, that I wanted to let them know so they could move forward.
This incredible sense of peace and abundance washed over me. This was not an obstacle. I no longer felt any negativity. Rather than the voice of fear, I heard the voice of certainty:
“This is all going to work out. Focus on healing. There will be abundant opportunities when you’re ready. You are supported. The Universe has your back.”
I admire people for whom these conversations and this awareness are easier to rise to–it’s still hard for me. Getting to those conversations sooner means less time in fear and anxiety. It is more familiar for me to dip into shame and embarrassment. It is a practice. It is about surrender. When I shift out of fear and into love, when I align with my inner voice, there is radical, endless peace. And damn! Don’t I want more of that stuff? Doesn’t that awesome feeling pave the way for so many delicious things in my life?
This surrender gets talked about in most religions and 12 -step programs. Whether or not you believe in a higher power, you surrender to it. You ask for help. God, Universe, Spirit take the wheel. I’m giving it up to you. I surrender. I’m listening.
Surrender is allowing my creative energy to flow, and keeping me honest about releasing weight. Surrender is not about inaction. Surrender is about hearing what the next action should be and executing it. Now more than ever, I need to be my best physically, spiritually and mentally.
I’ve resolved to begin the Course In Miracles. I’m preparing food in advance. I’m buying clothes that are easier to get in and out of so that when I’m one-handed, it won’t be as much of a struggle. I am blessed this is happening at a time when my daughter is home from school and, without question, totally there for me. I have an amazing partner and husband who is in it all the way, approaching 3 decades of marriage. I have a loving physical therapist who led me to the perfect surgeon. I am appreciating all of the abundance around me. This obstacle is an opportunity. This realization in and of itself a miracle.
I can’t wait to see where this leads.