Guilt. What a complex dance we are in these days! Sometimes he leads, sometimes I am clearly in command. Most of the time it is a back and forth mess, with the dance steps not at all defined and us both stepping on one one another’s toes. Sometimes he steps on my face and then I am almost drowning in a sea of quicksand, unable to breathe. Then I force myself to look upwards, and see sparkles of sunlight, dimly, far overhead. I start swimming up and up, through dark sludge, until finally I reach the surface. Often I am totally winded by the effort required of me. I hang on for a while, panting. Then I slowly haul myself out, and for a few days, or weeks, or even months, I make sweet progress. It’s always like being born again. SO wonderful. I feel almost blessedly normal for a while. And then a blasted wave of dizziness assaults me again, for any of 8 different reasons which I try and try to figure out; a migraine lays me low which is always accompanied by a myriad of other difficulties; or just good old depression rears its ugly head again. Brain injury is years of 1 step forward, 2 steps back, 3 steps forward, 2 steps back, 1 more step back, suddenly 4 steps forward, unexplained 2 steps back.. Stop to reassess if you’re making any progress at all. The sentence I just wrote….I was counting on my fingers trying to see if the math worked out at all, and finally just gave up. I’m brain damaged. So I can’t do math. Get over it.
And there is so much riding on my recovery! The happiness of my husband, my children, my friends, my mother. I want so desperately to be able to deliver a positive report for ALL of them because I can see how much they love me. And all my former students. and teaching colleagues….. it seems like every conversation now somehow circles around “what an inspiration my recovery has been” and “how my positive attitude has been such an encouragement for them personally” or something like that. I keep accidentally saying things, when we run into people, that cause them to say things like “Wow! I hadn’t thought of it like that! You really helped!” or “What a great perspective on that!” I almost never let myself give into the impulse….but sometimes I’m afraid I do…of saying (in a very annoyingly self-righteous way, I’m afraid) “Well, I guess there’s no substitute for getting totally knocked flat on your back to give you perspective!” Sadly, people don’t seem to want to hear this. I can’t imagine why.
I feel as if they are, by virtue of what they see as the tremendously awful thing that happened to me and my miraculous recovery, turning me into a version of a saint. Something I clearly am not. I have a very naughty sense of humor. But then again, maybe the best saints did as well.
I realize that this perception may be sadly deluded and misguided. But I still can’t shake it. Maybe this is a better example: it’s if I were a yogi sitting on top of a mountain, waiting there for pilgrims to ascend so that I could dole out little bits of wisdom.
I do not have any little bits of wisdom. Not at all. I’m really whiney. I don’t want to sit on a mountaintop by myself. I want to be included in the party, and then for us all to climb the mountain together. That sounds way more fun. I never wanted to be left out of anything! And, frankly, I’m really upset that mountain climbing may not be in the picture anymore. That totally sucks. Big time. I don’t think a saint would say that. Maybe the very best ones would. But on the other hand, I AM getting pretty wicked good with my hiking sticks, so maybe? At last another trip to a national park somedays? Who knows?