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My last full year at university, I broke my arm.

Well, technically, the math professor coming off of a blind curve on his bicycle broke it when he hit me.
I was, by the way, on my roommate’s bicycle on my way back to my dorm after work that day.
It was a lovely late afternoon, early enough in the autumn months that the leaves were just starting to turn towards the vibrant shades they take on just before they die.
Afterwards, I had a really good laugh in sharing the experience with a friend who was a math major and student of the professor in question.
But that is not really the point.

The point is that my arm was broken, but I didn’t know it at the time.

Yes, I did go in to get things checked out the next day.
My arm was in massive amounts of pain, but the x-rays didn’t show anything, so they gave me some good pain medicine and a sling.
Give it a week, they said. Should be good as new.

A week went by.
My arm was mostly better, but every once in a while it would start hurting again for a few months afterwards.
I didn’t go back in because I didn’t think I needed to.
Ibuprofen and the sling = problem solved.

I had no idea until a year and a half later, after I was back at home and at my doctor’s office with a mild case of bronchitis.
Because Doc hadn’t seen me in a while, he asked what had been going on since the last time I came in, so I told him about my arm and the crash.
He got a thoughtful look on his face just before he told me it sounded like my arm had, indeed, been broken as a result of that crash.
It was enough of a fracture to be painful, but not to show up on an x-ray right away.
Probably wouldn't show on an x-ray now that anything ever had been broken.

For a moment after Doc said that, it was like the accident had just happened all over again.
In that moment, I was angry with the doctor who hadn't seen it in the x-rays, and with myself for not going back when I was still in pain more than a week later.

We all do that to ourselves sometimes.
Something happens, and once we get past the worst of it, we convince ourselves we are completely over it - don't worry about crying on anyone's shoulder because everything is good...
Until something else happens and it's not again.
Then we tell ourselves it's over and we should be done with it, and we get upset with ourselves for not doing things the right way so we could have been done with it permanently sooner.

Maybe we need to stop trying to tie everything in a neat little bow right away.
Maybe we need to show ourselves some grace when we aren't as over something as we thought we were.
And maybe we need to give ourselves, and the people around us, permission to take whatever time is necessary to work through what is broken inside of each of us.

Because maybe once we've done that, we might be able to fix more than ourselves.


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