What does going down the rabbit hole mean to you? The phrase comes from a well-know magical, but slightly dark place in Wonderland. I had been mulling around the negativity that comes with the trip. In my hip recovery process, I recently got slapped in the face as I realized I still need to continue working on NOT going down a rabbit hole. Stay present was what I needed to do, but that was and still is not always easy to do. Prior to my first hip surgery in October, I was going deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole with an entire slew of “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios. Breaking news! The only thing a "what if" is good for is nausea, worry and a big, fat headache! I know many patients base their perceptions of recovery on negative past health experiences or even the negative experiences of others.
The rabbit hole some may dive head first into when they are in pain or disabled is, “I am in pain today which means I’ll be in pain tomorrow which means next month, next year and this is my new life!” or “I am having hip surgery and many patients have painfully long recoveries which means I will too!”
As I said, the term, “rabbit hole”, had been something I had been pondering, but fortunately had escaped my thoughts for a while. This, of course, was until the phrase came up in “shavasana”, which, for you non-yogis, is the final resting stage of a yoga class. It’s time where you are challenged to be present down to the second hand. Your breathing is the focal point. It is a time to just be. Olivia, my yoga teacher, was talking us through this and giving those gentle cues to “stay present”. She said, “the idea of being present is not to go down the rabbit’s hole with your worries or to-do lists. Breathe and be present.”
It was at that moment, that I knew I was in trouble. As soon as she said that phrase, I hopped down with as much gusto as someone who is recovering from hip surgery can. I did it quick and couldn’t get back out. I started thinking about all of my accomplishments so far in my recovery and the fact that I just did a FULL pigeon (forehead to the ground) with no aches or pain. I also thought about the work that I still had to do. My mind continued going deeper to “not if, but when” I screw things up with my hips. I began thinking about all the warnings my PT had been lecturing me about and the disappointment I would create. Wow, what a positive (sarcasm included) way to end a yoga class. I had just felt confident and, above all else, strong! And then I traveled to the land of failure.
Ben Cormack (Cor-Kinetic) talks about the idea that “optimism is key” and the fact that our resilience or vulnerability “can change from day to day.” I chalked up this trip down the rabbit hole to being just plain tired. I took it easy the rest of the day and I focused on self-care more the next week. I know with 99.9% certainty that I will not take that trip any time soon. Instead of the scary and dark rabbit hole, I will try to go where “the hills are alive with the sound of music” instead. Celebrate the baby steps. Celebrate the success of others. Embrace your own slice of hope. Positivity prevails along with perspective!