A Picture of Strength: Maybe or Maybe Not

I had the realization that I was in the hospital exactly a year ago when a handful of neurologists were real with me that I was going to become a part time to perhaps, eventually a full time wheelchair user. I used my walker often, but I had a lot of pride and didn’t want to use it in public as “walkers are for old people”. For some dumb reason, using a walker felt more embarrassing than falling over in the grocery store parking lot where people threatened to call the paramedics. I just turned my falling over into a joke and a smile with a kind of sarcastic, “I’m ok!”

Physical therapy was failing me hugely as I could walk a few feet around my house while constantly having to sit down as my legs get very weak and just stop. Being a pretty positive person who likes to focus on what I can do versus what I can’t, I don’t think my doctors could get a sense of how much I was struggling. It’s hard to admit you are struggling when you’ve been put down and had “struggling” used against you. Trauma recovery is very confusing, even when you have so much of it figured out.

Yesterday was Easter Sunday in the US. I tend to enjoy Easter as it’s a sign of spring, going into a season of growth, and change from an earth that has appeared dead for several months (if you live somewhere with an actual winter and the northern hemisphere). Easter is symbolic of new beginnings, new hope, and freshness. That’s just my perspective no matter what I have believed or not.

Yesterday I was invited to join a group of Christian women that I was honored to join, but as they reflected on Easter from a Christian perspective, I found my own spirit sinking. I had nothing to say. If you know me personally, I never stop talking, which is probably to my detriment and been working on putting genuine effort in being a better listener for awhile.

I haven’t had trauma memories that bothered me in years. Things come up, but I can neatly tuck it away knowing trauma is my past and the present I live is safe and often joyful considering everything I manage. Memories of spiritual abuse (no worries, I won’t give details) came up for me, which are some of the darkest things that happened to me.

I thought I could neatly tuck it away too. I did my livestream iyengar yoga class and took this picture soon after as even though getting the gift of proper mobility with my super fancy “sidestix” forearm crutches and a wheelchair that came in pink that literally sparkles in the sun also came some grief. When I got my wheelchair, I posted this paradox of the happiness of mobility as well as the grief of making such a major life shift on social media. A very old friend with his own health challenges commented something along the lines of “think of the biceps you’ll get”. So I was having a moment of enjoying my physical strength from not only using my upper body as my way to move, but also that it is nearing my 1 year anniversary of beginning iyengar yoga.

So I had my moment of pride, fed the dogs, and fell into a blissful sleep for about 4 hours at a somewhat regular time, about 7:30 pm instead of 4:30 pm. I felt victorious.

Then I woke up realizing that spiritual abuse is a beast. I haven’t really talked about it with anyone as it becomes “too much” for professionals. I would never discuss it with friends, especially not the details. I don’t want to tell the details to anyone actually. It’s locked up in my box that holds my distant past as I know it’s the past. I’ve dealt with enough of it that it’s not troubling anymore. Somehow someone found that key and unlocked that box holding this beast. I just mention it as I don’t want people to ever feel alone like I did for many years thinking I was the “only one” for much of what I went through.

Ironically, someone I know from the past reached out to me yesterday evening who knows I have a really traumatic background and asked if I would kind of talk to them about my spiritual abuse as they feel alone and wanted to know how I cope. I told them I would gladly talk to them, but it’s not a text conversation to be had and my way is definitely not the perfect way. This feels especially as I’m overwhelmed right now with this nasty box that has been opened for some reason on a day that usually represents so much that is new and fresh.

I really am ok though. Several years ago, this sort of thing would have devastated me. I would have felt lost and trapped, feeling like there was no way to escape the pain of the memory. Well, there is no escape. I only have to continue to go through it and feel the awful feelings associated with it.

Has my world stopped? Obviously not if I could still take my livestream iyengar yoga class and get a few hours of sleep. But it’s 1 o’clock in the morning feeling perplexed why I’m being given this “gift” of a painful memory when I already have plenty to manage.

As I said, I’m ok. The sun will come up. I’ll go about my business of what a Monday brings for me, paying medical bills, food prep for the next two days of lengthy infusions, maybe a phone call to a friend on the east coast, and certainly another iyengar yoga livestream class before I have to take a handful of days off. Some people breeze through IVIG. I’m not so lucky. I have at least 2-3 days post that I am eating anti nausea medication like candy, taking the maximum amount of prescription migraine medication, and tons of Benadryl as I’m not totally sure what it does, but it’s recommended round the clock for a day or two to help with a nasty allergic reaction you can get to it. So for those 4 days a month, I wish for death while also knowing that once it passes, I get a couple weeks of relative normalcy.

So everything is status quo in my world. I just now have to continue to have the unpleasant pain of a memory I buried and left behind when I decided I was going to live differently. It’s not causing me significant distress, there’s just the knowledge I’d rather not think about. In a time of social distancing, I don’t have lots to distract me. I wouldn’t talk about it anyway.

Just a weird and kind of cruel way that trauma keeps on giving. I suppose I should just focus on how I’m so much more ok with this popping up now than I ever have been before. Like not even comparable to how different and ok as possible my response is to something so ugly. It’s unfortunate, but it won’t ruin me. It won’t even change much about me, except I might become more introspective, more quiet, and a little more distant, but good timing when we are all supposed to be distant anyway. So just leave me alone!

Just kidding. Please don’t. Pain is pain and no one should have to walk, gimp, or wheel through it alone. A reminder for myself and others to reach out. You don’t to talk about the hard stuff, but it’s always important to not feel alone.

Love

Lizzie

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