This piece is part of our series “Transforming in the Mud: Finding Hope and Perseverance During Tough Times.” 

As a physical therapist, it is my honor to work with people “in the mud.” I can see their potential, but being in physical pain with functional limitations is wildly exhausting and frustrating for people.

Our hope in sharing the not-so-perfect stories is to create a community where people feel less alone. Please welcome back guest blogger Nova who courageously shares her rehabilitation process with us.

As I prepare for tomorrow’s surgery, I have been reflecting on these past 3+ years and the surgeries that have coincided with each year. What has been illuminated through this reflection is my relationship with hope.

Hope’s absence

I feel compelled to share this quest because we all have experienced moments of hopelessness in our lives, whether it be loss of a loved one, abuse, illness, depression, injury, addiction… We have all felt hope’s absence. We have been witness to this hopelessness in the continuous eruption of violence throughout our beautiful world. In reading my story, if you’ve lost hope, may you find your way back to it once again.

For the past three years, I had gone into each surgery with the utmost hope that my physical pain would subside and that I would continue to live my dream of dancing on the stage. Neither has come to be in these years of continuous surgeries and rehabilitations.

My hope became non-existent for periods of time when these realizations hit. Loss of hope is a terrifying and self-destructive place to be. Without hope, there is no living. It takes the love, support, and care from those you trust most to remind you that there is still hope. Thank goodness hope can blossom in even the darkest of times.

Hope’s potential

What I am learning is that hope serves us best when we do not attach specific outcomes to it. According to Tara Brach, when we broaden our aspirations and investigate what truly matters to us, trust that this aspiration is possible, and have the energy to engage in it manifesting, we are able to liberate ourselves from the shadows of hopelessness. Hope is a sense of potential, of what is possible in life.

When I started investigating what it is I have most wanted and still want in life, I first thought it was to be out of pain and dance again. But upon further inspection, I realized what I really want is to feel worthy and lovable as I am in this very moment. To feel deserving to exist on this earth just as I am now, unattached to the identity of a dancer and the doer of things.

This is the evolved hope I am learning about. It is a hope unattached to the expectation of pain relief. This is the hope I carry with me into tomorrow’s operation.

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for.
And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under it’s roof.
What I want is so simple, I almost can’t say it…
Elementary Kindness.”
—Barbara Kingsolver