We are very lucky to have a guest blog post from one of our amazing clients, a dear friend and an awesome human being. In this post, Mel Rogan shares her personal journey of how a seemingly crippling knee injury has become a catalyst of self-acceptance and the importance of change in our lives.
Change is important!
For those who don’t know me, my name is Melanie. I’ve been floating in and out of the 4U family for about 3 years now. You may have seen me doing my own thing in the morning boot camps when it comes to the more difficult exercises and wondering ‘What the hell is she doing?!’ Well, I have no idea and I’ve been asking myself the same thing for much longer than you.
Nearly 5 years ago, I dislocated my left kneecap, causing a full tear of my ACL, severe bone bruising, MCL sprain and a longitudinal tear of my medial meniscus. In other words, it was complete mashed potato in there. Two surgeries and several re-injuries later, I’ve settled into a life knowing I will never be the same. Which I now know, isn’t a bad thing.
I was a shy 25-year-old in a dead-end receptionist job, studying a Bachelor I wasn’t interested in and had very few people I called a true friend. I always had this feeling that something was missing or something wasn’t quite right in my life. The only time I felt truly happy was when I was playing sport. I was playing netball and volleyball 4, sometimes 5 times a week and doing a boxing class 2 times a week. I was pretty fit and at an ideal weight for my body shape. At the time, I thought I was happy with my life. Looking back though, I wish I knew what self-reflection was because I was definitely not happy.
In a mixed netball game, on a Tuesday night, everything went sideways. Literally. My knee went one way and my body went the other. People say change can happen overnight and maybe it does. Through my own experience, I think it is an incredibly lengthy process. You have to accept it and to let go before anything can truly change and it’s those 2 steps that can happen overnight. My knee injury happened in a split second but I spent years trying to fill the void and to accept and let go. Those first few months after I did my knee, I’d lay on the couch or my bed, unable to move, being stubborn and trying to hold on to my old life. Living in denial and self-pity. I couldn’t accept that I’d probably never play netball again. I’d been playing since I was old enough to walk and now, I couldn’t play? I felt like a part of me had been ripped out. I didn’t even want to go watch my teammates finish the season. I was a selfish, self-loathing human and no one wanted to be around me. When I look back now, it’s not the physical pain I went through that I remember and that I learnt from, but the mental and emotional pain. The unkind words I would say not just to others, but to myself. I was my own bully. Then one day I woke up and I just remember that I could feel my unhappiness. I had always known and always had that feeling but that morning I could actually give it a name. I realised how it affected me. That this wasn’t where I wanted my life to be going, nor could I stay in a mundane job and keep studying something that wasn’t challenging me. That morning, that was the start to accepting and letting go. That was the first wake-up call.
So, I dropped out of University and left my job with no idea of what I wanted to do. I moved, relationships crumbled and I lost friends. I mingled with different crowds. I made true, lasting friendships. I found new hobbies and I took up painting and sketching. I read books that I had always wanted to read. I started taking time out of my day to self-reflect. I practised mindfulness. I travelled overseas on my own. I moved back in with my mum. I moved again. I started sewing. I knitted a scarf. I tried keeping plants alive. I looked for a challenging job. I then went back to study Remedial Massage. I made truer, lasting friendships and I had found a career that I love. A career that challenges me in every way. I was happier but I still had that void.
Two years post injury, right before I joined 4UBF, I was 25+kg heavier, lost most of my muscle, and had no motivation to be fit and healthy. I wasn’t a lost cause, but I definitely was not caring for myself like I should have been. That changed when I stumbled across 4UBF. Those seemingly small moments and the interactions we have with one another may seem insignificant to the outside world, as we all have our own busy lives to live and our own truths we live by. For me though, those small moments and the interactions I had at that time in my life were the most significant. No one can know the true effect someone has on someone else’s life. Those who have met Tim know exactly what he is like! He is a genuine legend. He’s an inspiration and it rubs off on pretty much everyone he meets. It is a little infuriating at times when all you want to do is eat ice cream and wallow in self-pity. But he was the second kick in the butt that I needed. He inspired me. Actually, the whole of the 4U family did and I changed again as they accepted me and I accepted them. I threw away my ice cream! I found even truer, lasting friendships and another team activity I could participate in but most importantly, I felt motivated to live a fit and healthy lifestyle again. I wanted to steer my life in a better direction. I don’t really remember the first conversation I had had with him, I just remember a feeling after he had left – I’ve got this, I am ready to start again. He might not know it, but he helped me accept that the old part of me is long gone and it was time to let go. That for every one thing I cannot do physically, there are 10 or more alternatives that I can do. This is a lesson I try to take on board in my everyday life.
I am now stronger and fitter, more confident, I have a good support system around me, I self-reflect daily and I work for myself (best boss ever). My nutrition still needs some refining (just no refined sugar!), I try to find something creative to do every day, I am no longer my own bully but my biggest fan. Physically, I am not where I used to be, but that’s ok. Mentally and emotionally I am not the same person I was pre-injury anyway. I accept that I will not be playing netball for now (never say never) and I can finally go watch my mates play out their season. My mindset is 110% better and I don’t put too much pressure on myself to do what I physically cannot. Although it took me a long time to get through this process, I have no regrets and I try not to let things get me down.
I’m not sure where she heard it, but whenever one of my best friends or I am feeling down, she always says to me, ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’. I used to laugh because it sounded ridiculous. ‘That doesn’t even make sense!’ I’d think. Oh, how naïve I was. Because she’s an absolute genius. If you don’t understand it, that’s ok – I didn’t for a long time because I didn’t want to. I wasn’t ready.
So, when you’re ready, just take some time to really think about it and how it relates to you. Self-reflect on those moments of change in your life, even the smallest ones. Think about what the old you did to help you get through it and then be proud when you look at the new you. You will see a difference in your physical, mental and/or emotional self. It may be a big difference or the smallest of small but there will be some difference in you for the better. And change hasn’t finished with you yet! There will be several more ‘a-ha’ moments in your life when this saying will just make sense and when you put your own experiences and truths behind it, I can guarantee you will always remember it. Then all you have to do is accept the change and let it go.
I’ll continually have those moments when I understand the saying. I will always welcome change and practice self-reflection, acceptance and letting go. The change will happen whether you want it to or not. It is an extremely critical part of our evolution that’s been happening forever. The only control in this matter, the only teeny smidgen of power you have, is accepting the ‘how’, letting go and allowing the ‘when’.
From all of me to all of you, thanks for reading! I hope you got a little something out of it, I certainly did when writing it.
Melanie Rogan Remidial Therapies