“You are officially benched!”
As any athlete knows, being benched due to injury or poor play can be a demoralizing experience. In my case, as a non-athlete, it was demoralizing as I was benched because I tripped over a cat toy while moving an old couch and somehow managed to pull a muscle in my back. My coach, in this case, my husband, helped me walk to our new couch, got me a pillow, and proclaimed that I was, “Officially benched!” I laughed as he said it thinking that I would be fine in 10 minutes and that there was no way that I had the time or the inclination to be benched. Several hours later, still lying on the couch in pain, I realized that I was indeed not going back into the game.
Initially, I did not take well to being on the sidelines. I watched as my teammate picked up the slack and I felt guilty about not being more useful. After 10 minutes or so, I made a valiant effort to get up, but the truth was, I couldn’t. I was down for the count and there was not a single thing that I could do about it, and so, I did the only thing that I could do, I rested. I watched mindless television, I took a nap, I ate a meal brought to me on a tray. I stayed still.
At around 5pm the next day, I suddenly realized that somewhere along the way, I had surrendered to being benched. With no other choice, I had sunk into it and given myself permission to just be for a minute. For the first time, in what seemed like a long time, I took some deep breaths and stopped worrying about what would come next. I was simply present, in this moment, and it would have to be enough.
By the next morning, I felt almost like myself again. My coach gently reminded me to take it slow and I heeded the advice. I let go of the urgency that normally leads me through my days; I adopted a more leisurely pace and allowed myself the time and space to heal. I was attuned to the gratitude that I felt for the teammate who had lovingly benched me, for my body that has the capacity to heal, and for the cat toy that had unwittingly given me some breathing room. It wasn’t the game that I had envisioned playing, but it was indeed the lesson that I needed.