On those days parts of her died,
and she had to go on living without them.
Time and again it happened,
until there was none of her left.
She was frozen in time,
while everyone moved on around her,
leaving her to haunt herself.
My crumpled cotton sheets rustle around my ears as I fight to block out the loneliness. I am exhausted- not from lack of sleep, but lack of rest. I haven't rested in months. Half of my family has been gone for days. Days that I filled with museum outings and trail work, cleaning and grocery shopping, library, farm stands, hair cuts and pizza parlors. My younger kids lapped up the "girl time", and I patted myself on the back for making it through, and also for drawing the line when they wanted to sleep in my room and I just couldn't. people. anymore.
Now we are all six together again. I was so excited to welcome them all home. So proud of my non-athletic teenager for gritting out 50 miles of biking. So happy not to feel alone. Alone. I am rarely ever alone. So why to I feel that way? And why when I have that much less reason to feel alone, is it now that it sets it's heavy load on my chest? I meant to nap. But the words came, and they must be written.
My therapist says that the reason I am incapable of planning for future, whether it be daydreaming, setting goals, setting up calendar items, or even identifying what I want, is because my brain has too much it hasn't processed. It is demanding that I address first things first. We started exploring some EMDR this week. It's kind of fascinating. Like the rapid eye movements trigger a flip book of random memories and my thoughts race from one thing to the next until they land on what my brain finds relevant in the emotional timeline. Memories of being fifteen, joining a competition soccer team on top of my other recreational teams, and musicals, and choir... and showing up early to games, alone. I had worked hard and accomplished what seemed important and impressive in my family circle. The things my brothers did. And no one cared.
How do you feel when you remember this picture of yourself?
I feel irrelevant.
And how does that word, Irrelevant make you feel. I'm used to it. I don't need to be a big deal.
Now please, I need you to be vulnerable.I crumple in on myself like a paper doll and whimper like a toddler. "It really hurts."
The flutter and whir as my mental flip book moves on.
I am somewhere around three or four and my baby brother has just fallen off of the two-story playhouse roof onto his head. My mom is with him and my sister is there too and I want so badly to do something helpful as the EMTs arrive in a flurry and move him to a stretcher. The seat belts are dangling from the gurney. Marky is too small, they are barely using any of them, and all I want to do is buckle the extras so that they don't dangle. I am so small, and well-meaning... and irrelevant.
I am thirty three and facing the wrong side of the finish line at the Antelope Canyon Ultras. I was supposed to run it with Jenna. It was to be my moment of victory. I cheer another stranger through as I sit in a camp chair holding my knee crutch. There is sand in my boot. Friends are gathered here and there. Every once in a while they greet another victor across the line, crowding in to give their congratulations or get a better view to watch for a runner. I'm left staring at a line of butts.
It's a theme in my life. Logic says I am very relevant. I have family who loves me, children who need me, an amazing husband and friends who adore me. But something programmed deep in my subconscious says I don't matter. That if I slipped away, it would go unnoticed. If I disappeared, life would move on.
I think these repeated traumas have somehow pulled at that dangling string and unraveled a gaping hole in my psyche. I set goals, I trained hard. I took chances and dared greatly and a shattered bone just bigger than a golf ball leveled me. There was some ado in the first few weeks. People care. They are wonderful. But life when on swiftly as I flailed to keep up. Eventually I think I limped back to functionality with my desire burning a little hotter. I set my sights on another 50k. I charged through another 25k, hoping my finish line there would feel triumphant and instead ran sobbing into the arms of a pregnant stranger as a few random people wondered why I was crying.
Then there was pain again, and hospital again, and surgery again, and all of the tests and I was terrified, but I had my brave face on. Don't make a big deal. Don't be a big deal. Then the complete annihilation of my free will and control as I woke up in confusion to find a completely different surgery had been done with different consequences. There was my doctor who had just rifled through my guts, telling me I had almost died and shrugging it off like a joke.
Deal with it.
Oh, I dealt with it. I climbed mountains again, but this time I carried the massive load of depression and anxiety up there with me. I stared life in the face from the mountaintop, in my sports bra, in one degree weather and said, "Antelope Canyon, here I come!" So when I lay quivering in a puddle of paint with a broken foot 6 weeks from race day, I cried uncle. And as I sat at that finish line, I tattooed,"Irrelevant" across my heart as it sank into my stomach.
Victory is not for me.
Imagine one person who wants nothing but the best for you. Someone who is kind, and safe, and wise. Now picture what that person wants for you.
Celebration. She wants celebration. She was completely aghast when there was not a massive line of well-wishers with flowers in my hospital room. She planned out a highlight reel of my victory race and she'd even picked out the music. I think she wants my victory more than I do sometimes.
There was only one section of my therapy session that didn't include a memory. The flip reel started and then just flip... flip.. flipped like the reel had run out of ideas and was missing the page it needed.
And the words over and over and over, "I have to try again. I have to try again. I have to try...."
I sat agape. I owe it to myself to try again. Giving up sounded so much easier, but I won't be doing that. I am frozen at the knowledge of how hard it will be to set this goal and achieve it. The work it will take and the obstacles I face as I figure out how to drive this reconfigured body to it's limits.
And what you've been through already hasn't been hard? You can do hard.
I can do hard. But I'm scared.