Sharon’s Note: Real Warning, so I’m putting it first: Author’s note contains some harsh words. This is my opinion, and based on my own journey. If you don’t want to listen to it, skip to the story.
In dealing with a disability, you are your own worst enemy. Yes, the pain and difficulty is real, but you’re the one who decides how to handle it, and how much it bothers you. You can loose your s*** from time to time, everyone does. But have your moment, pull yourself together, and get on with life. You may think wallowing in it makes you feel better. It doesn’t. It’s toxic to you and the people around you. The people you love hurt when they see you in pain. I’m not saying hide your feelings. I’m saying deal with those feelings. Trauma isn’t a pet to keep around and stroke so you can revel in your own self-pity. It’s a fever to be treated and gotten through. Letting the people you love hurt because you don’t want to deal with your own s*** isn’t far from verbally abusing them to make yourself feel better. You don’t have to be happy with you condition, but for your own sake, and that of the people around you, get to a place where the fact that you have it isn’t ruining your life. There a piece of writing advice that says if you have a disabled character, don’t let that disability define them. I know that a disability or illness can be the linchpin of your life. Everything you do can be dictated by it. But, if you get your head together, it doesn’t have to define you.
The path was too uneven to use. Uneven blacktop and potholes threatened to trip me with every shuffled step. Even though the ground was soft, it was easier to walk alongside the trail, stopping occasionally for a minute or two to lean against a tree. Back when I could run, I would keep going till my legs burned. I missed the burning. Now, as I trudged on, my legs got heavy, and my mussels responded to my commands less and less. Eventually, I couldn’t look down the trail. I had to stare at my feet, picking each foot placement carefully because I could no longer tell if my toes were snagged on dirt or grass, or if I was stepping on uneven ground that would tip me sideways if I put my weight on it. Forward. Everything else fell away except the drive to go forward. Brian, my team, the wolf, everything got pushed from my mind except the next step.
The next time I took a break to lean against a tree, it took everything I had not to slide down the trunk and just sit. I was so tired, and the numbness was starting to spread from my feet up my legs. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt, just that I couldn’t control their movement, or sense how to move my limbs. The pain was excruciating, but it was only pain. I could deal with that. It was the fear and frustration that would kill me. Helplessness was starting to saturate my mind, and if it overtook me, we were all done. I needed a distraction.
Seth said I needed to ask other people for help.
I flicked on my radio. “Hey, Brian. How are you holding up?”
“You know, more bored than terrified at the moment, but hanging in there.”
“Yeah, I need you to do something for me.”
“Anything.” I heard him perk up.
“I need you to talk to me. It doesn’t matter what about, and I won’t be able to talk back ‘cause I need to concentrate. Just talk until I tell you not to.” Gritting my teeth, I pushed away from the tree, and started shuffling again.
“Are you okay? Is help still coming?” Suspicion tinted his words.
“I’m fine. Just talk.” It was the last words I could afford him for a while. I needed to control my breathing.
There was a pause that probably only lasted a second or two, but seemed to go on forever. When Brian spoke again, his voice was artificially chipper. “Alright then. Since this little devil here has an overdeveloped sense of irony, we are revisiting fairy tales with wolves in them. There’s more than you think. We were just starting the three little pigs. Hope you don’t mind the fact I’m having to make some of this up as I go along, since I don’t remember half of these stories.”
Listening to Brian tell the story while the kid prompted him in the background was a great distraction. Wait. Kid. I only heard one other voice. Had the younger one passed out already? Damn it, damn it, DAMN IT! I was running out of time. Part of me wanted to push harder, to get there faster, but I knew better. If I rushed, I’d screw up. Slow and steady wins the race.
A tear slid down my cheek as I pushed forward.