Sharon’s Note: I cried when I wrote this. I hadn’t cried about my condition in a long time, I didn’t realize I needed to. I’ve always loved the saying that writing is easy, you just sit in front of a typewriter and bleed. I did that, and I have to say I felt better than I had in a while. Warning: Mind the emotional blood on the pages.
“Good.” Seth nodded, then broadsided me with, “So what’s actually bothering you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You let Fank get to you. Normally, you’re better than that. So what’s bothering you? It looks like you’re walking ok today, but are you actually having a bad day?” Sometimes Seth was too observant. He could tell just by watching me cross the floor how exhausted I was. When I was having a bad day, one where my body just didn’t want to listen and I had to fight to walk, I couldn’t hide it from him. I could forget trying to hide any emotional problems. It was a good quality in a leader, but I hated it sometimes. It was bad enough I couldn’t lie to him, but he wouldn’t even let me lie to myself.
I sighed heavily. “No, I’m actually having a pretty good day. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m doing all my p.t., and my therapist swears I’m on track, but . . . I have this feeling that I might me reaching my limit. What if this is as good as it gets? What if I never get any better than this? There’s so many things I can’t do, Seth. Every second of every day, I have to plan, because if I don’t I’ll wear myself out accidentally, and I’ll be useless for the next day. Maybe multiple days. I’ve never been much for spontaneity, but there’s none in my life now.
“Every morning when I wake up, I’m either in pain, or weak, or so stiff I have to fight to make my way to the bathroom. I used to be able to run. I used to be able to fight. I was a Tae Kwon Do national champion, for christ sake. That’s all gone now. Do you know what I’d give just to be able to jump again? Some days I get too exhausted to move around the house, I have to grab onto the furniture and hold myself up, or use the damn walker. I’m not old. I shouldn’t have to use a freaking walker.
“Sometimes my foot drags like it’s dead, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get it to lift like a normal human being. Sometimes my mouth stops working and my jaw gets heavy, and the best I can do is slur out words. Sometimes I can’t speak at all and I’m afraid I won’t be able to ever again. I spent a month not able to speak, Seth. I couldn’t tell everyone how much it hurt, or how scared I was. I still can’t, because they’ll either tell me to suck it up, or worse yet, they’ll feel sorry for me. You know why people feel sorry for you? Because you’re broken. I’m not broken. I can’t be broken.
“And I know there are people out there that have it worse than I do, and I think that makes it worse, sometimes. How can I tell them how bad I feel sometimes? I’m ok, and I know I’m ok, but sometimes . . . sometimes . . .” It happened then like it had happened before. I couldn’t speak, but I couldn’t tell if it was because my mouth freezing or because I was crying too hard. My breath hitched and my hands shook and my tears were falling so regularly they were running into my open mouth as I gasped for breath. It was like tasting sea water.
Seth didn’t say anything, he just rolled around beside me and wrapped an arm around my shoulder. I cried against him. It was only for a few minutes but I felt better. You can’t cry forever, but sometimes you have to let it out. It’s good for the soul.
“Bad mental days are bad days too.” He murmured into my hair. “Never be afraid to come to me if you need to talk, ok? I don’t care what it is, if you think it sounds selfish or stupid. If you need to say it, I will listen. Now, I want you to go to the bathroom and splash some water in your face. After that, let me know if you can go on to work, or if you need to go home. Do you want to talk to Miranda?”
Miranda was one of our on site psychologists. It wasn’t that I had a problem with talking to her. Everyone knew how important it was to look after your mental health around here. Those who didn’t, didn’t last very long. I just didn’t feel like talking anymore and I shook my head. “Nah. I’m good. I just needed to get that out, I guess. Sorry for getting your shirt wet.”
He glanced down at it, then shrugged. “There’s no snot on it, so we’re all good.”