Slow and Steady Toward Recovery
By Ellie Cahan--A turtle moves very slowly but steadily. It keeps moving toward its goal in small steps. Sometimes, it goes into its shell for protection or a rest and stays there for a while, regaining strength. It hides there to be safe. It can be stepped on by others but will be unharmed because its outer shell is so strong.
Turtles are persistent. They will never win a race and they don’t try to. They go at their own pace. But their destinations and ability to get there eventually, however long it takes, are worth no less than a faster-moving creature that has been granted more strength and speed.
Turtles have patience and perseverance. They can travel a long way, further than expected. They have endurance. They grow larger and stronger over time. They can withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure on their shells and not break. Though they start out so small, with proper care and attention to their needs, they can grow and live long lives. You can see their speed increase as they grow in stages, though they will never reach past a certain point. That is who they are and how they are meant to be.
Turtles will never enter a marathon. They don’t try to because they have no such aspirations. They accept their limitations in speed as part of life and work with what they’ve been given. They don’t think so deeply about it or measure and define their pace or goals by others’ paths. They know it’s not possible and fighting it will do nothing to change the facts.
Turtles teach me to say “yet.” I can’t do or be this—yet. What I want right now can’t happen—yet. I haven’t made enough progress—yet. I can’t recover or use skills fully—yet. I can’t unlock myself or communicate effectively with others—yet. I can’t get over the trauma I’ve experienced—yet. I can’t trust myself, life or others—yet. I don’t have control over my emotions and urges—yet. I can’t feel emotions safely or fully—yet. I can’t be in a relationship I want—yet. I can’t cope with my life—yet.
I will never win a marathon or keep step within an unemotional world. This is my reality. I won’t try to because these are not my aspirations or expectations. I will accept my limitations in speed as part of life and work with what I’ve been given. I won’t think so deeply about it or measure and define my pace or goals by others’ paths. It’s not possible and fighting acceptance of that will not change the facts. It will only harm and hurt me, not provide healing. I am who I am and I was created to be this way. Forcing progress with self-directed harsh words is as effective as yelling at a turtle to overcome its laziness and just speed up. Just get there already. Well, it can’t and neither can I—yet.
I move so slowly. It’s so hard to accept my pace and limitations. I go inside my sometimes-too-strong shell for protection over and over again. I need to be protected when people step on me and when I fear they will. I need breaks often and tire easily. But as long as I keep going at my turtle speed, breaks, shell and all, continuing to move forward no matter how slow, I will be okay. I will grow stronger. And I will get to where I want to go.