My husband, Kasper, took the boys to his parents for the day. Instead of opening all of the doors and windows, airing the place out as I go room to room with a broom, a duster and some polish and organizing skills, I close all of the doors and blinds, make a new pot of coffee and cop a squat Native style in my computer chair. I know what you’re thinking:
One that is partially paralyzed on one side of her body cannot simply cop a squat
While that may be true, I do it anyway. It just takes patience and a smidge of skill and pliability. Basically, I had to stretch to get into this position. It’s so irritating how different and complex things are for me that are simple for everyone else. It is incredibly difficult to not let it get me down every time I come to face these challenges. For a long time, I avoided things that reminded that I am no longer like everyone else. Sure, I’ve always been different because my personality is slightly off the path of what is considered ‘normal’ but wtf is normal anyway? But, this, this physical separation I have from everyone else is *long sigh* it is very hard to explain to everyone the way the mind works to overcome these things. I guess some people just barrel through it all and others shy away in defeat and then there’s those people like me that analyze every single difference, every reason behind every move and thought. I am always comparing my old self to my new self, trying to sit my two lives side-by-side so I can find myself in the split between them.
I remember during my first stint in inpatient rehab being told by my nurses and therapists how strange it was that I had yet to cry; how odd it was that I didn’t seem shocked by it all; how professional I was handling this violent twist in my life and while at such a delicate time in my life. I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I remember shrugging a lot and just blubbering on about embracing and accepting things when they come at you…I later discovered that was not what was happening at all. I am very complex mentally and emotionally. I don’t just have walls; I have walls so high and deep they reach the ends of me; so thick no one can see me and I can’t see anyone. I have tunnels only I can follow and some even I don’t want to discover or travel. I’m sure everyone is like this to some degree but maybe because I am so analytical and try to be arrogantly and pretentiously perceptive since my stroke I am more aware of these things about me [?] The reason I didn’t cry, the reason I was professional (never found out what she meant by that) was only because of how I was absorbing the shock. It didn’t ripple through me during the explosion. The first aftershock didnt’ affect me outwardly but the dust settling on the foundation where I once stood had tickled me deep and, like fracking, it broke me from the inside out.
I’ve described my depression before; it can get pretty intense because I bottle it up. I don’t like Kasper babying me and ‘tending’ to me because I am sad. I don’t like him telling me he understands. I especially don’t like him suggesting what I should or could do instead of feeling so pathetic and weak and I damn sure don’t like false encouragement – it really sucks when you take off the blinders and realize you’ve been duped by false words that have no solid base on which they should have been formed.
What I have somehow managed to do to stave off my depression when finding myself frustrated by things like not sitting easily in the computer chair Native style like I once did barely 3 years ago is to remember those odd things I used to do in a positive, more pleasurably nostalgic way rather than in a contrite or compunctious manner. When I look at my feet and realize I won’t wear flip-flops or heels, possibly ever, again, I remind myself of the many times I had made people laugh by wearing flip-flops at the most inappropriate times. I thoroughly enjoyed wearing them. It didn’t matter how cold it was or that I was wearing a sweater and jeans; if it was a quick jet to the store it was easier to slip on some flip-flops. When I think of heels I can easily say I never liked them much anyway. Sure, they are pretty and make your feet look attractive but I don’t like pedicures and I don’t like ugly calloused soles either so wearing heels at work created quite the conundrum for me.
I can’t even sit here and say, “*welp* I wish I had enjoyed my legs and feet more since now I only have one of each working well.” I cannot say that because I did take advantage of my body, I didn’t take it for granted like a lot of people do. I ran everywhere, people often told me to slow down. It was almost as if I knew I’d lose that speed early in my adult life. I always took the stairs and not the elevator and I often ran up and down them. I walked with my son just because it was a nice day or I felt he needed some fresh air or I did. I walked to the store instead of taking the bus or cab. I had a job I walked to both ways, 45 minutes down the road. I played hacki-sack until I started working full-time in heels at age 25. In high school on ‘dress up days’ I would play in heels! I was a cheerleader in the fifth grade (nothing good, ha!), starter point guard in the 6th grade and involved in track and cross-country in the seventh and eighth grades. I played kickball, football, soccer, baseball outside of school in the ghetto with my friends as a kid. I went hiking all the time. I climbed trees and jumped from bridges into lakes, went canoeing.
I painted ambidextrously, I sketched and drew with charcoals and PrismaColour pencils. I gardened, I cut tree limbs, I cut my kid’s hair myself, I never relied on Kasper or anyone else to move my furniture for me when rearranging a room. I rode on a motorcycle (not drove)…all of these things. Sure there are many more out there that I have not done, like climbing a real mountain or jumping from a plane but can I really miss something I most likely would have never done had I never become the person I am today? So I use these memories, not against me but for me. There are so many things I miss, like walking briskly past a mirror in a department store and taking a quick second to inspect my movements and then chastising myself later because ‘what if someone saw me?’ but if I had never done it in the first place, I wouldn’t be grateful for the memory of having seen myself walk. So strange, I know.
When people would tell me: you should be grateful; I wanted to smack them but now I see they are right, I should be grateful. I am one of a kind. I actually appreciated the use of my body when I had it and I used it and I took advantage of it but I didn’t take it for granted. Never take anything for granted, especially when it is a piece of yourself. You never know when that piece of you may suddenly cease to exist. A memory can be fleeting but it’s the ones we never plan to remember that are everlasting.
Make the best of everything