“I Can Do Anything Good”

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American Poet and Novelist Charles Bukowski once said, “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”

You guys.

I have sucked. Hard.

Since an accident one month ago in which I broke my right collarbone and left wrist, I have been the world’s worst fire-walker-througher.

I actually think I would’ve done a much better job literally walking through fire, as opposed to this long drawn out suck fest. Charles Bukowski sort of sounds like a jerk.

I have been totally insufferable. Frustrated. Aggravated. Irritated. Sad. Angry.

I’ve done more apologizing in the past 30 days than maybe the past 30 years.

Sorry.

Sorry for being such a bitch.

Sorry I’m so grouchy.

Sorry I said that.

Sorry my life has taken over yours.

Sorry. I know I’m impossible.

Sorry.

These don’t include the other obvious list of Sorrys. As in, the ‘Sorry you have to bathe/dress/wipe/feed/situate/drive/shop for/do every last thing for me’ variety.

I’m sorry to say pain brought out the worst in me.

And the crying. Sweet Jesus on a bicycle. The crying. Crying about pain. About the loss of autonomy. About my hair and everyone’s complete inability to do it even remotely close to the way I do it. (See? See how ugly I’m acting??) Crying about MY inability to do ANYTHING.

I wish I could say something inspirational. I wish I could tell you about all the valuable ways I’ve redeemed these helpless hours.

I got nothin’.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.

I got through it.

I’m getting through it.

Scandal, Season 4. Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. Twitter. Online shopping. Staring into space trying to remember how awesome my life was pre-accident. Practicing my fake smile and drug-induced nod when people remind me of all the possible silver linings. Staring at my mom and shaking my head in disbelief as I ask for the millionth time, ‘Can you freaking believe this? No, really. Can you believe this actually happened?’ (She can’t, by the way. She really can’t.)

The good news is, I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m holding my own coffee cup and managing a little mascara and getting pretty darn adaptive– with my right side, anyway. Sounds super impressive, right?


But a few days ago, after giving up on Charles Bukowski, I stumbled upon a blog called Real Life.Truthfully. This girl. Bless her heart. She’s just trying to make her way– she’s had a lot of high highs and low lows. She knows how to do hard things and weather hard times. And as I read her work, I felt inspired. She recently wrote about how sometimes the difficulties of life require time and space to see that maybe everything’s going to be okay after all.  And I could feel that. She wrote about totally effing up her life so many different times, in so many different ways– but that she keeps just trying to be brave and show up,even when she’s not sure how the whole thing is going to turn out. She talks about God. And grace. And kindness. About being surrounded by so much love and goodness in her life and how its carried her through.

And there’s this theme. This beautiful, multi-colored thread running through all of her work. About trying to press on. Not giving up. Even when it’s messy and hard and it seems like everything is just…wrong. About going one step farther even when you are positive you just can’t.

And somehow, after reading through it all, I felt encouraged. And inspired. And strengthened. I may not be very good at walking through this fire, but I think I’m going to make it after all.

[ Hey Jessica! Thanks for the pep talk! See it here. ]

Want Some Cheese With That Whine?

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“You’re like our little pet,” my daughter said, smiling.

As if this were a good, sweet way to be and I should, perhaps, feel happy and loved.

Happy and loved to be fed and bathed and groomed and cared for so gently and meticulously.

And sometimes I do. Sort of. For a minute or two.

Almost 2 weeks after a very scary accident which left me with a broken right collarbone and a broken left wrist, and one week since surgery, I mostly always feel loved. And here and there, I sometimes feel happy. Except for when I don’t. It has been the ongoing paradox of life. The way the worst of times pave and weave together a broken and unsteady well-worn path with the best of times.

It feels very similar to grief– the way one minute feels as though nothing will ever be okay again, and the next minute feels as though everything’s going to be okay after all.

I cry everyday out of both pain and frustration. It’s been the toughest physical challenge I’ve ever faced. To be so helpless. To feel weak and fragile and hurt. And at the constant mercy of others.

And yet that mercy has been holy. And constant. And beautiful. The love and support and strength and generosity from my family and friends.  Mom: No words. Thanks to you, we’ve laughed as much or more than we’ve cried. (Okay that’s a lie. But damn if you’re not trying to make it so) It has felt like a feather bed. Like a soft place to land. Most days. A reassuring and steady rhythm whispering, “you are not alone…you will not bear this by yourself…” And sometimes, I believe it.

Except for when I don’t.

Because there are moments. Days. Nights. Where it is suddenly much more clear. I am alone in this. No one truly bears it but me. When I am cold and unable to pull up the blankets or pull on a pair of socks. When I’m hungry but will have to wait until someone can feed me. When I can’t reach something I need and I can’t adjust my position to get it, either. Just to name a few. Hundred. After days of crying hot tears of humility and embarrassment in the bathroom, I stubbornly figured that out. Because really. A person has their limits.

And I totally get it. People have jobs and events and commitments. Busy lives. They have the luxury of stepping outside of this and stepping back in at their convenience.

But I don’t. And it’s hard.

Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not cancer. It is not terminal. I get it. But it is still a huge, painful, lonely, suck.

Occasionally, well-meaning people will joke that I should enjoy all this lying around, all this being waited on business.

No.

No. I don’t enjoy it at all. I don’t want to work on my tan. I don’t want people at my beck and call. To a fault, perhaps, I do not enjoy being helped and served and on the receiving end. And I know. It’s already been said– how good it is to learn these things- being a gracious recipient. Allowing people the pleasure of helping you.

But it doesn’t feel like a pleasure or a gift. It feels like a burden.

One big gigantic burden. Again.

(God. Seriously. Because the whole widowed/divorced suitcase is also being dragged along as well. Though not by me BECAUSE IT WOULD BE TOO EFFING HEAVY.)

For a person who is a do-er, a self-proclaimed DIY Girl, this is a nightmare. For a person who stubbornly wants to be independent, who loves to be alone, who would much rather figure it all out than have it done for her, this does not feel good.

As I was lying on the gurney, waiting to be wheeled into surgery, my dear, weary mother, looking over at my tear-stained face, said these words:

“You don’t have to keep tap dancing for us. It’s okay. We all love you. You are enough even when you can’t keep performing.”

Woah.

But when tap dancing is your way of life, all you really want is to get back out on the floor.