Aug 3, 2008

On Trusting Inner Knowing

Woman Meditating on Beach

I can't remember how we got on the topic the other day, but my husband put me in mind of a rather significant event in my childhood. I hadn't thought about this in years. But, it occurs to me that it's an instructional tale on the power of that sense of inner knowing that can be so pivotal in our lives. More importantly, it reminds me of how important it is for parents, like myself, to acknowledge that even very small children have powerful instincts that should be respected and protected.

I was 8 years old. We were visiting with relatives out west, when I had a painful accident. I was roller skating with another little girl, a neighbor of my relatives. I tripped over a piece of newspaper and went down hard. Certain that my leg had been broken, I refused to move. The little girl went and found my mother. My mother did what any parent would. She felt my leg, and, not feeling anything out of place, told me that my leg was fine and that I should try to stand up. I refused.

For a good half hour, we went on like this. My mother who was as gentle natured a person as has ever walked the earth, was certain that my ankle was, at worst sprained, and tried to convince me to get up off the ground and come into the house. I refused.

"It's broken," I said, over and over. "I know it's broken."

Finally, unable to convince me to even try to stand, my mother accepted the inevitable. An ambulance was called. The paramedics also felt my leg, and feeling nothing out of place, suggested I try standing. I refused.

When I was admitted to the ER and my leg was x-rayed, it could no longer be denied that my leg was, most definitely, broken. Not only was it broken, it was a compound fracture. It turned out that I had what is generally referred to as a "ski break." It's the kind of fracture that occurs when there is a combination of torque and impact. The main fracture spiraled around the bone three times, and from it there issued a multitude of little fractures.

The punch line? Had I attempted to stand on that leg, the entire bone would have shattered. It would have required major surgery and the bone would be held together with pins, to this day. As it happens, it healed perfectly. It took three months for the cast to come off and I endured months of physical therapy to rebuild the muscle, but it healed completely. So, completely, that I haven't thought about the incident in years.

I wish I could say that all such stories, in my life, end as happily. Many do not. For every time I have listened to and fought for what I inexplicably knew internally, I have failed to do so. The results have inevitably been disastrous. The lesson in every case has been to trust my gut instincts. Now, I hope I can remember that.

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