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Something very profound happen to me yesterday at the end of my time at Dr. Smith’s office. It hit me like a ton of bricks on the drive home and I haven’t been able to shake it off like I normally would. That’s why I want to talk about it now.
I was in the hallway with Dr. Smith discussing a private matter when he asked a simple question. I knew I could’ve answered him in a way to satisfy his curiosity, and yet I felt compelled to keep my mouth shut. I gave a glib answer, but in hindsight it may have even been a bit disrespectful to not answer him. After all, he was caring enough to ask.
So much of my life has been spent being told I should be “seen and not heard” that, even now in my personal life it’s almost impossible to talk about certain things. As a child I was constantly reminded to sit quietly, act like a lady and blend in. Even though I may have had something to contribute as I got older, I still felt I was to keep silent. That has carried on with me through friendships and relationships. With the advent of all this change coming with my new body, new freedom and new life perspective, I’m trying to learn to let go of the old baggage but, DAMN, it’s a hard thing to get rid of.
In October, my best friend from high school stayed for a week and it wasn’t until then, I opened up about some of the things that happened to me she never knew from the past 40 years. In some ways I regret not sharing more with her because at one point in time, I can remember it as if it were yesterday, she and I were talking on the phone and she said, “You can talk to me Kathie, I’m your best friend. If you can’t talk to me then who will you talk to? I may not be able to help but I’m a good listener.” And she is. I shared with her that mom always taught me not to wear my heart on my sleeve, that others don’t want to hear my problems anyway. What mom didn’t tell me was, if they ask, it’s OK to talk about things. And I guess I just never figured that out.
It was good to share with my friend some things I’ve held close to me for a lot of years. I think she has a deeper understanding of who I am and why I’ve done what I’ve done through those years. To some, my actions may seem a lot unorthodox, but, if they knew the entire picture, I’m not so sure they wouldn’t have done the same things.
I’m trying to find my new way with my new me, and the adjustment’s been difficult at times. When we moved here to Vegas, I knew no one, yet over time, I’ve developed a small network of friends I can trust with some things, but I’m always on guard. I want to open up more and yet I feel compelled to be silent. Sometimes I just feel tongue-tied, like, that isn’t really what I meant to say or what was relevant to say. I know that most of you are like that too. It just bothers me, no it REALLY bothers me that I have a hard time answering questions much like the one Dr. Smith asked.
Learning to be a different me because I get a second chance, a do-over, with who I am is a big responsibility, one I didn’t see coming. It’s just kind of happened slowly within the last year. The first time I realized I was well enough and strong enough to go out into the world was probably at the end of last May. All my surgeries were behind me and I had gone for one of my walks for exercise after my hip surgery.It was then it dawned on me, there’s no more pain, no more reason to hold me back from becoming the person I wanted to become just after college graduation, before my injury. Little by little I’ve tested my wings. Each time I tested, I’ve had a positive response and it brought a smile to my face. IT FELT REALLY, REALLY GOOD! I knew then that was the direction I wanted to go in.
Brian saw it too. I know he felt a weight lift off his shoulders; the responsibility of health care he was facing before my surgeries to care for an ailing parent. I so totally got that he wanted to move out to his own place. It was time, and my healing gave him permission to do so. He was two years behind his timeline to achieve some pretty lofty goals he’d set for himself, but with the advent of his new freedom, he too kicked it into high gear! As a parent there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your children reach for their dreams and achieve them! They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I must say he’s reached some of his goals in a most unorthodox way… HA! I only have myself to blame for that! But that’s OK, he’s doing well in spite of it all!
I wonder if there are others who have gotten a second chance to change who they are that have struggled with it as much as I have? I’m trying desperately to fit into a new mold and since it’s uncharted territory, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. It’s really odd I should be saying this because from the very outset of me approaching Dr. Smith about talking to his patients, I’ve always kind of known how I wanted to do it and where I’d like to go with it. It’s new, and exciting, and interesting and I feel so capable of doing it for a very long time! I’m confident of that! But somehow, I was lost with the words to answer him candidly the question he posed. Often in life you don’t get a do-over button. I think this is one of those times…. and I can kick myself for not having the voice to just say it! He wasn’t asking for the sun and the moon, just a simple direct answer, and I didn’t give it to him.
My life is very limited to the number of people I talk to, a small handful each week, so it caught me off guard when I was actually asked something that was of importance to me personally. In my mind I’ve conjured hundreds of ways to talk to people, things I wanted to say if I got the chance. Oh, I’ve got a great gift of gab, just ask anyone who knows me. I can talk about most subjects with at least a degree of not looking stupid, but………I really discovered something, a huge flaw in myself personally yesterday. I need to work on being more open. Not to the point of being a crybaby or a nuisance, but at least not deflecting so much that others are put off by my lack of engagement.
For now I’ll have to accept what I did and I hope the doctor overlooks my inability to say what should have been said. I’ll keep working on me, because that’s the only person I can change, and that’s a full time job. I’m not about to try to change anyone else! I’m OK with accepting others just as they are. As long as they’re not some kind of an idiot!
Each day I seem to discover something new, about me, the world, about others that I never paid attention to before because of all the white-noise of pain going on in my head. Funny, I have a lot more to think about these days!
So while I’m doing that today, just remember to take care of you and yours!