It’s now been nearly a year since I lost the full use of my legs, forcing me to rely on crutches and other instruments of torture to get around. I look at that statement, and I can’t believe that for nearly a year I’ve been denied the simple privileges of taking a long walk, or playing at the park with my little one. Almost a full year void of the joys that come from strolling by a lake in meditative silence, running with a dog, or riding a horse across the prairies. It’s been eleven months of pain and pain killers, frustration and agony, disappointments and miracles…and yet, here I am. I survived.
I have to admit, however, that I did not survive on my own. This year has also been a year in which I have learned, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who my friends really are. They are the individuals that have acted as my ever faithful therapists and chauffeurs throughout this ordeal without a word of complaint; more importantly, they are the miracles that refused to allow me to fall into the hole of depression, regardless of how often I tried to dodge them to dive in. (And believe me, it’s a hard pit to avoid when you’re parked firmly on the pity pot lamenting about what you can’t do.)
I did that for a long, long while. In some ways, I’m amazed it has been only 11 months, because it really does feel like I have already bitched bitterly about this for a lifetime.
One night in particular, I was talking to one of my best friends, Bernadette, about my poor, poor pathetic life. Mournfully speaking about my unemployable nature and subsequent financial squeeze, I actually startled us both with my ability to whine for a full hour without once straying off topic. (Admittedly, looking back on it, I am also rather startled by Bernadette’s ability to listen to such drivel coming out of her phone for that long without once driving over to beat me about the head with it.)
Two things happened as a direct result of that conversation. The first came in the form of a question Bernadette asked me while I was shrilly sobbing into her ear about the travesty that was my existence; “What are you going to do about it?” My initial thought was “Whine to you! What the fuck does it look like?” However, following my venting period, a new perspective began to emerge. Yes, I have lost the full use of my legs, and yes, in some ways, that really limits what I can do; however, there are still many, many things I can do despite my disability. One of those things is in front of you all at this very moment…I can still write!! Writing has been one of my greatest loves and firmest passions as long as my memory goes back, and I can still do that.
The second thing that happened was that it dawned on me that Bernadette, with her one simple question, was reminding me of something that I have known for years. The only person that can effect change in my life is me. Though it’s a hard pill to swallow, in many ways I have chosen my financial hardship by not choosing to find a way to turn writing into a stay at home job. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I can choose to change my mind and go for it at any time, and uh…just so you know, Universe, I’ve changed my mind!
As much as I wish to be able to go out with little one and jump and play, I can’t and that’s the reality. This, however, does not mean that there isn’t anything I can do with my daughter; there is a veritable plethora of activities I can still manage! My job is to change my attitude, not my affliction; and with that one simple decision, change my entire life. This doesn’t mean that there aren't still hard times, when I’m sick and tired of the pain and there’s nothing I want more than to be able to just walk to the damn grocery store; but it does mean that I’m learning to turn that around and just be grateful for the friends I have that will drive me there.
It’s funny that our true friends in this world are not the people that tell us everything we want to hear, but rather, the rare few individuals that have the guts to tell us what we need to hear. In my life, I am fortunate to have three such people to bounce things off of and do things with. In ways, it’s almost miraculous when I stop to really consider it; there are three people in this world that love my daughter and I like family, even though they are not obligated by blood to do so. That, folks, is a pretty damned incredible thing.