The motto on the back of this year’s survivor t-shirts at the Walk to Bust Cancer a few weeks ago was “#wegetup”. It’s the motto of a dear friend of mine, who inspires me and so many others with her unfaltering determination and positive attitude throughout her ongoing battle. When she found out that her breast cancer had metastasized to her brain, she signed off on all her texts, emails and posts with #wegetup. A reminder to herself and others that we will all get knocked down in life, but we have to get back up. Many times, that is a very tall order.
#wegetup is the motto of the U.S. Figure Skating Association. When the campaign was launched in 2016, U.S. Figure Skating Association chief marketing officer, Ramsey Baker, said “We all fall, it’s how we get up that matters.” My brave friend Mary reached out to the USFSA and explained why the motto was so important to her and received permission for us to use it for our local breast cancer walk. It was pretty amazing to look out at the crowd and see so many bright pink shirts proudly worn by survivors, those who had been knocked down but got up to fight, walk, support, and encourage others to do the same.
Throughout my journey of sobriety, I’ve known many people who have fallen/slipped/relapsed or “gone out to do more research”, as we like to say in recovery. Unfortunately, some of them never made it back in. But so many pull themselves back up, brush themselves off, throw away the bottles or pour the rest down the sink, and start at day one again. At step one. Sometimes several times. Progress not perfection.
I remember asking a close friend early in my sobriety what she would do if I drank again. She said it would depend on if and how I get back up. I’ve made it almost 6 ½ years now, but that doesn’t mean for one second that I am out of the woods. I never will be. I can never take my sobriety for granted, get cocky or complacent, or think that somehow, I have this cunning, baffling and powerful disease beat. When I hear of people who have been sober for decades slipping, it reinforces my vigilance.
I used to figure skate as a child. That ice is cold when you fall. And it’s hard and it hurts. The longer you stay down, the colder you get and the more it hurts. Same with drinking. Add darker to that mix. A darker, colder, harder, and deadlier spiral down. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a hand to pull you back up. #wegetup — but we don’t have to do it alone.
We all get knocked down at some point. By something or someone. Everyone has their struggles. If you are lucky enough to have had a hand reach down and pull you back up, be grateful. If you pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps, be proud. If you were down for longer than you had hoped, be gentle on yourself. If you’re still down, ask for help. Remember the brave warriors who have gone before you who told themselves that #wegetup… and did.
“Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.” — Anonymous