Another of my stroke survivor friends just met a huge goal. He dropped his cane and AFO. I’m so jealous. He works hard for his goals and I just sit at home jealous because I just don’t have that drive. It’s like I was born without a gas pedal and can never do more than coast. It totally blows. Sometimes I get so jealous I’m motivated for a few weeks and then it just fades away like a heavy fart in a breezeway. It lingers for a bit but then the sting is gone and eventually you notice your nose hasn’t been hiding in the collar of your shirt for a while. It’s not like I don’t want to get better. I don’t want to end up like Toto, content with being “stuck” on the couch with Netflix on. I mean, she’ll eventually run out of things to watch and then what?
Just an example of how much motivation I lack, I actually had an internal debate over which I would do with this “free” hour or two: watch an episode or two of Downton Abbey or write a post. I actually chose Downton Abbey until I checked my Facebook feed and saw Louie’s post which made me feel quite low.
I’m really happy for this guy, he deserves every gain he earns. Same with K.C who is also doing well in her recovery. I notice a trend with the survivors with frequent gains: They have FANTASTIC support behind them! I have a little; I’m thankful but it’s nothing like K.C who gets support from multiple communities as well as her family and friends or Louie who has such a large family that they cannot all fit in the pictures of his family gatherings. I try my best not to dwell on the differences of the systems our recoveries work under but sometimes it’s just so hard. These people have friends that force them out with them, that babysit so their S.O’s can help them adjust to social life again or have people there to push them forward. My friends disappeared or let me push them away without a single swing of struggle to stop me. My mom “abandoned” [for lack of a better word] me when she realized this was not temporary, indefinite at best (meaning there’s a chance it’s not permanent), and would need a lot of work on my part but also anyone supporting me through this. My sister, well, Stilla is Stilla and if anyone but her gets attention it’s because they somehow fixed the situation to tilt things in their favor, diverting all attention from her on purpose.
I look at my kids and I see failure in my reflection in their eyes but it doesn’t get me up and moving. It’s the opposite and I spend so much time swimming away from the spiral that I lose sight of the origin of that spiral. It’s a vicious cycle and I don’t know how to end it. I’m thankful Kasper is here at my side but anytime I need his support he gets angry with me. Like I’m being selfish and inconsiderate. He tells me to ask his help when I need it whether it’s with stretching or spotting while I do the riskier of my exercises but when I ask he gives me a loud sigh and whatever he’s doing is set aside heavily and this does nothing but remind me how much of an inconvenience my disability is for him. I can’t do this by myself, I need the support and I just don’t feel like I have any; and when I want to ask for it, I feel so guilty and burdensome that I shuffle away with my head down and no words spoken.
I try to find ways to do things on my own. Like in therapy they would have me stand and try to bend my knee, lifting my foot back. They would have to help me kick my leg back because I am unable to do it on my own. I told Kasper I needed to do this at home, I needed his help with this. Like I expected, he sighed and said okay in that way of his that lets me know he really wishes to answer in the opposite. So I tried to fashion this TheraBand around my ankle so I could use it to lift my leg from behind with the band reaching over my left shoulder. Well it got caught in my hair (it’s almost like thin rubber or something) and the next thing I knew I was fighting it while standing up and almost fell through the window. I tried to do my own weight-bearing but my fingers don’t stay open on their own so I need someone (which multiple therapists have told him repeatedly how to help and why it is important) to help not only keep my palm flat on a surface but help support my elbow while I put my weight on that side to help strengthen the arm through the shoulder. He helped me do it once. It was really difficult because my wrist absolutely refused to coöperate.
I’m not trying to blame my husband, my recovery is not his responsibility, but more support sure would help. I understand that I am stubborn and I give this perception that I don’t need that much help but refusing to let him help me vacuum or cook dinner most of the time does not mean I don’t need his support in some of the more crucial areas; that’s just me trying my best to feel normal and like I’m contributing to this household in some way. When I get really down he’s there for me without hesitation and he lets me vent before he tries to offer any advice, support or whatever because he knows it’s best to let me get it all out first. But I need him as a motivator, someone to help keep me from getting jealous of other survivors because I’ve already met those goals or am close to them because I am not here waiting for it to come to me.
Jealousy is just as ugly an emotion as it is unnecessary. Well maybe it’s not unnecessary because it might be the prod you need to work harder towards success. I think for the most part jealousy is a hinderance to the one experiencing it. It creates a blackness in your thoughts that dampen your sights on your goals. It’s a distraction that can take you down the wrong path and that path leads straight to bitterness. Bitterness is the worst. It’s hard to shake. That settles right down in the pit of you; it burrows so deeply that it touches your heart and mind at the same time and before you know it, you’re a demon trapped in a circle of salt in an abandoned room in an abandoned house that everyone crosses the street to avoid.
I don’t want to be bitter. I feel it biting at me sometimes though. It’s like this cat we had when I was a kid. It was a black long-haired cat we called The Black Cat because we found it in a box full of kittens and it was the only black one, the runt I suppose. We never named animals we didn’t intend to keep but no one ever got this one so we kept The Black Cat. Anyway, we weren’t allowed cats in our apartment without a deposit so we would lock it in a bedroom if we had someone come over that might tell. TBC would scratch at the carpet under the corner of the door opposite the hinges. She tore and tore over time until eventually she could fit right under the door like a rat through a mouse-hole. That’s bitterness. If you don’t protect yourself from it completely, it will claw and gnaw its way in. Jealousy is one way to keep bitterness away from you. Get a hold of your jealousy; learn to smile when you want to snarl, to congratulate when you want to be snarky and to take the opportunity to learn from them (yes, learn from those you’re jealous of) to help put you in a place where you feel equal and no longer below them. That is the only advice I can offer myself at the moment. Keep that jealousy in check, Kt; it’s that friend you know is a bad influence but can’t ignore because you find it all too easy to indulge in that influence no matter how likely it is to lead you somewhere you don’t want to be.
I need to become one of those people who can use jealousy like an elixir to inspire to work harder for progress.