A Fresh Start

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News October 2014

The disabled life has become more and more the norm for me, but there are still memories from a previous life purging their way out of me.

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I go into a semi-panic attack whenever I read my editor’s email that a column is due.

However, I sort of enjoy the pressure of putting my brain to work and challenging myself to come up with something fresh and unique for the magazine and its readers.

I search my brain’s databank in hopes to find memories of anything that stands out for me and that would be worthy of almost 1,000 words.

Lately, however, with my academic courses demanding a lot more of me, the dread of making the decision of whether or not to enter a $30,000 master of fine arts (MFA) program, my almost 4-year-old having melt-downs every morning because I didn’t pick the right colored socks for school, and the balancing act of putting everyone together around me have all taken an enormous toll.

So Many Questions

I’m tired. I’m beyond tired, I dream of sleeping while I’m sleeping.

I’ve started to pay attention to other mothers around me, disabled and able-bodied, and realized that I’m not the only one. We, women, all seem to be on a tight schedule and with very little time to literally stop and smell the roses.

As I glance back at my “accomplishments” since adopting my wheelchair, I feel very proud. But still there’s something missing. In there, in that little place where the three-headed dog is dormant in charge of a tiny box, the secret lies.

I’m missing quality time with me. I’m missing spending time with my daughter without the reminder that a major paper is due for one of my final classes, without the feeling of being divided into a thousand little mes that only do subpar work.

The three-headed dog opens its six eyes and stares at me. “Are you going to do it or not?” it asks sarcastically with a six-eyed gaze. “Not yet,” I reply. I still have something else to finish.

Some questions have been echoing in my head. Why am I demanding so much from myself? What do I have to prove? Who am I trying to prove it to?

I know many others have it worse than me, so I’m not trying to pull out the victim card. But, I’ve been asking questions. So many questions.

Is it You or Me?

The answer came recently through my young daughter who lately has had so many meltdowns.

She has been a mirror of me, except that I’ve been holding back my meltdowns. My daughter has outwardly expressed them for me and reminded me that I need a loud, face-in-the-pillow, crying session once in awhile, too.

The disabled life has become more and more the norm for me, but there are still memories from a previous life purging their way out of me.

They sting the most on the way out when brought up by long lost friends, who via texts and emails send videos of me five years pre-accident — innocent, clueless, confident and so young (maybe it’s the young part that makes me so bitter and not so much the working legs part).

Then, the urge to pack up and move away to a place where no one knew me before the chair appears, a place where people will meet me and get what they see. They won’t judge me by before and after and keep reminding me of the dividing line either.

But there is the old adage, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Is the problem really with them, or with me? If I move, am I running away from something that will keep popping up eventually?

A New Place

Mostly, what I’ve learned in the past two months is that these ups and downs will go on forever.

They’ll come in different forms, unexpectedly and (I hold onto this belief) for a reason. I’m setting forward an intention to find a new place to live. I don’t know where yet, but I think my time living in Florida is coming to an end.

I’m grateful for everything this state has offered me, but my mind and heart are open and I think my family and I would benefit from a fresh start. Suggestions are highly encouraged and welcome.

What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed and over it all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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