It’s 3:00 pm on a Sunday as I write this. I’m sitting on the couch. My cat is purring next to me. And I’m wrapped up in a sweatshirt blanket in an attempt to keep the icepack on my hip from freezing me to death in the middle of July. I still don’t get why I do this.
And it’s not that I don’t have anything to write about. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact.
I sit down to write and I have absolutely NO IDEA where to start. I’m living so much of life in this season. How do you begin to explain it? Yet I want so desperately to document every millisecond. I don’t want to miss a moment of what I’m experiencing.
I’ve started dating again. It’s been a whirlwind. A rollercoaster. An adventure. As I was communicating with a guy the other day, I realized that most of our conversations include me responding to at least one question with the phrase, “Well, that’s a long story.”
Finally it struck me. My life is nothing but a compilation of hilarious and/or devastating long stories.
This week brought me to my knees. But I refused to recognize it until I woke up at 4:00 am Saturday morning in the middle of a panic attack. Although I didn’t realize it was a panic attack until 12 hours later. A panic attack? I haven’t had one of those in years.
When I find myself unable to write, I usually just start copying. Quotes, that is. I will read and write quotes for hours and hours. Sometimes I have to rely on another person’s words to reflect the emotions and experiences I’m immersed in. I simply don’t have the letters. At least not in the right order.
It’s frustrating to realize that it takes something drastic to slow me down enough that I remember to breathe again. It shouldn’t be this hard. I should know better by now. I run and run and run and run until I collapse. I hold on and fight and grit my teeth and push push push until suddenly my strength fails.
Sunday: Fall down stairs and potentially jeopardize months and months of hard work.
Monday: Admit to physical therapist said fall.
Tuesday: Deny existence of said fall.
Wednesday: Confess to doctor said fall.
Thursday: Receive mixed signals from professionals about said fall.
Friday: Pretend that said fall is inconsequential.
Saturday: Legitimately forget about said fall due to all-consuming physical and emotional exhaustion.
Sunday: Acknowledge intense pain, stop fighting, and start treating said fall.
Mix in the fact that I’m desperately trying not to hurt someone I care about, taking on major duties of an out-of-town coworker, learning that a dear friend is fighting for her life in the ICU, and discovering what I am and am not looking for in a relationship. I think it’d be kind of weird NOT to have a panic attack, you know?
Oh, and those darn meal logs. After 9 months, I’m over them. Much to the dissatisfaction of my dietitian. But hey, I have bigger fish to fry.
Pain. Joy. Death. Love. Fear.
I was at physical therapy Friday afternoon. I’m temporarily restricted from using the Arc Trainer for now, so they let me do the Biostep for some “cardio.” Cardio is in quotation marks because the Biostep is basically a modified recumbent bike for old people. I’m sorry. But it’s true. So I do 10 minutes on the Biostep, then do some strengthening exercises. Seamus comes over and asks how things were feeling. I shake my head. He asks me what bothered it. I start to choke up. I point to the Biostep.
“This is PATHETIC.” I shake my head again. “I was doing SO WELL, Seamus. I was feeling stronger, I was feeling confident, I was…I was…. And I’m just so PISSED right now. I’m sorry. But I’m over it. I’m tired. I know this is just a set-back and I probably didn’t do anything too horrible when I fell. But I’m just really discouraged right now. And it sucks.”
You know what I like about Seamus? He nods his head while I shake mine. He doesn’t try to convince me that everything is honky dory. He doesn’t tell me to turn my frown upside down. Rick is like that too. They share in my exasperation. I can see they’re just as frustrated as I am. But they always end in, “We’ll get you squared away.” Well, I don’t know that I’ll ever be square, but I do know I’m in good hands. If they were going to give up on me, they would have done it 2 years ago when they still had the chance.
So it took a fall, an immense amount of stress, a 3:00 am irate phone call, devastating news, and a 4:00 am panic attack. But I’m starting to feel like Brittany again. And no, it’s not just because I’m in pain. Although I’m starting to feel like I won’t know who I am without it.
The last 2 days have been rejuvenating. I’ve spent a lot of time alone. I needed it. I needed time and space to just be. To take a 2.5 hour nap and sit outside for hours doing nothing but copy Story People quotes into my journal. To finally decide it’s not really worth it to sit in pain anymore, when I could be taking care of myself. Until I eventually cleared my mind enough to come up with a few words of my own.
Although the last week brought me to my knees, it’s the last month that has been nothing but crazy. And it’s gone from crazy good to crazy bad and back to crazy good again. Sometimes in only a matter of hours. It’s exhausting. No wonder I haven’t had the time, energy, or words to write. But through both the good and the bad, the crazy teaches me something new every day. And that something? It’s usually about myself. I get to know myself a little more each day.
Sometimes I get really frustrated. I LOVE to write. But it seems as if I’m only ever inspired when I’m in the midst of chaos. I mean talk about a conflict of interest. I’m beginning to believe this is something worth exploring. Am I afraid to write about the good? Or simply so caught up in enjoying it that I don’t want to miss a moment. Even if just to record its beauty.
I think I spent a lot of years believing that the “good” was always “too good to be true.” Why draw attention to the good? You were only building a stage and spotlight for everyone to watch as everything went bad for you.
I don’t have an answer. All I know is that it’s wrong. All I know is that’s no way to live. Actually, the more I think about it, the more angry I get with the whole idea. Embarrassed to experience the good that life has to offer? If you’re fearful of the good, then only the bad is a comfort. And how twisted is that?
I’m tired of being comforted only by the darkness. I’m through with only experiencing the good when coupled with shame.
People say life is both good and bad. That’s just the world we live in.
But guess what? The bad doesn’t have to be good, and the good isn’t always bad.
There are more than 1 million words in the English language. Why let ourselves be ruled by just these 2?