My left ankle.
My left ankle. It is swollen and a tad blue. I am icing it in bed trying to be a good girl. I have had problems with this ankle my whole life. It started when I was five.
We were at the park at the bottom of the hill. My mom, my brothers, and I. I always went for the swings. I used to sing the same song at the top of my lungs, while attempting to launch myself off the swing as far as I could go; into the playground sand. It was a bit of a competition between my older brothers and I to see who could launch themselves the farthest.
I jumped and immediately felt the pain in my ankle with the bad landing. We had one stroller and it was occupied by my younger brother who was sick as a child.
The walk back home was torturous, or at least I remember it being endless. I was told to suck it up, walk up the hill, and that we would almost be home. I cried the entire way, walking behind my mother as she trundled toward the house with the boys.
The next morning I will never forget the sense of relief that washed over me as I stepped out of my bunkbed onto the floor and collapsed in a pile of five year old pain. I couldn’t stand on my foot. It simply wouldn’t hold my weight and I was so relieved that I had proof. I wasn’t pretending to be hurt. I was actually truly not able to walk and now someone would have to help me. My mother would surely have to listen to me now.
My first week as a kindergartener I was on crutches, the bus driver helped me get on and off the bus. It was nice to receive attention.
My left ankle has given me problems ever since. It has always been weak. I have rolled it multiple times. I don’t remember how many times I have sprained it. I struggled with it during sports, and most recently I dropped an 100 pound sandbag on it. I don’t recommend doing that.
The last time I saw my mother was in 2019. She had just broken her ankle. I was there and it was traumatic, like most events involving her tend to be. It snapped so loud and her scream is burned in my mind. We were at a camp site in Wyoming, and I took off running for the nearest first aid help.
I rubbed her shoulders on the drive to the hospital and helped calm her breathing. Luckily, the surgery happened right away and we didn’t have too wait long. She was released from the hospital the next day and we moved from the campsite to a hotel room.
Our last encounter was a challenge. It was 5am and I was preparing to fly back to Ecuador. She was lying in a hotel bed without anywhere to go, she had no home, no rental, no job, and was yelling at me for being an ungrateful daughter and for not doing more to help her through this difficult situation.
I walked away from her, closed the door on her sobs; and I haven’t seen her since.
My left ankle is in pain. It is hard for me to learn that the pain is valid. It is hard for me to undo the lesson of “sucking it up.” It is hard to not feel bitter toward my ankle, myself, or her.
We all need help. We all cry out for attention. It is stigmatized in our culture to have needs, to ask for support, to want to depend on the other. This is not okay. No one should be burdened with sucking it up all on their own. We need community. My ankle needs some rest, some love, some kindness. I learned to ignore the pain, but moving into the pain is actually what has helped my heart and my ankle begin to heal slowly.