As I was writing this post, I realized that it gives the impression that the main staples of my life are sorrows and trouble. This is not the case. I have had so many things in the past years that have been beautiful, normal, and enjoyable. Most days I feel blessed beyond measure.
I have found however, that writing helps me process through the difficulty and ambiguity of life. It is cathartic. It helps me stay grounded. It leads me to truth. I hope it does the same for you.
If you haven’t seen the movie Inside Out, go watch it now.
I mean it…
Go watch it.
It literally changed my life.
I can almost bet that those of you who HAVE watched it know exactly what I’m talking about.
The relationship between sadness, and joy, and jealously, and anger is absolutely stunning.
As they pass and life happens, happy memories become touched by sadness or anger or jealousy. Different life events come into the picture, and as much as we wish those memories could remain untouched…just as they were the happy day that they were made…that’s not how it works…at least not for me.
Those of you who have read this blog might look at what I’m about to write and say that it looks like I’m moving backwards or not making any progress in processing my injury. Maybe that’s true. Maybe that’s bad. Maybe that’s good…or maybe I’m just moving deeper.
“I’ve got a new normal”
“Look what I CAN do!”
“I’m learning to balance the sadness with joy and hope”
These statements that I’ve made in the past are still true. But I was talking with a friend the other day and she made the point that to ignore the emotion that is still there…still behind the events and changes and joys and challenges that I face every day BECAUSE of the accident…that’s doing an injustice to something that is STILL part of my life. Something that is STILL meant to be dealt with and learned from. Something that is STILL hard.
Yes, it has been four years…but that doesn’t mean that I have to have moved past all of the hardship and be “over it”.
Carolyn asked me on a beach in Cape Cod about 3 years ago whether or not being on a beach again (but in a wheelchair) made me in some way sad. Whether it took some of the memories I had of being on the beach as a kid or with John…swimming…feeling the power of the waves…did it take those memories and taint them in some way. I said no. It truly didn’t at that time.
Now, I’d say yes.
This is a journey. It still changes. It still has its ups and downs. And honestly, it STILL affects almost every part of my life every single day.
I remember how easy it was to hop out of bed to grab a water bottle if I forgot it. I smile when I think about babysitting triplet two year olds and chasing them around in chaos. I have happy memories of flirting with my husband in our kitchen and backyard. And when I think about these things, sometimes they begin to feel sad.
I remember how it feels to hike. Oh goodness, how I miss it. Sometimes so much that I can’t breathe. How much do I wish that those joyous memories of hiking and being free and breathing rhythmically with my steps and seeing nature…how much do I wish they would be untouched…just stay happy. But they won’t.
My ascent to the top of Long’s Peak with friends...
beautiful, momentous, tough, SAD, ANGRY, JEALOUS.
My daily walks up the trail besides the Flatirons in college…
peaceful, quiet, centering, SAD, ANGRY, JEALOUS.
Chasing a two year old through the grass and snatching them up into a hug…
giggly, joyful, SAD, ANGRY, JEALOUS.
Sadness that I can no longer experience these things in the same way that I used to.
Anger in feeling like something beautiful has been snatched from me, and I have no way to get it back
Jealousy over those who are still able to enjoy these things the way I once did
Tears stream down my face as I let myself think about these moments. In a way, it feels like I have lost a friend.
It almost gets harder the more time passes after you’ve lost a loved one. You realize that they’re actually gone. You grasp the devastating permanence of the fact that you will never see or talk to that person EVER. AGAIN.
They’re gone. My legs are gone. My friends that have lived so much of life with me…experienced so much joy with me. Made so many memories with me…they’re gone. I miss them.
I’m four years out, and many times it’s harder now than it has ever been.
It is devastating because it is permanent. And I see the permanence more and more every day.
I put a band aid on it saying “but I CAN do this” or “you can do whatever any able bodied person can do if you put your mind to it”. Yes, I can. But does that take away the memories I had before this new life? Does it permanently cement them in a different world that is somehow separate from the one I am living in now? Absolutely not. The two are so mixed and convoluted. Sometimes I wish it was more simple.
I am a different person than I was before I got hurt, so my perspective on the way that I lived my life before the injury has been impacted so dramatically. Paralyzed Kaitlin judges walking Kaitlin…”why didn’t you do those things while you could?”. If I were all of a sudden able to walk now, I would do so many things that I never would have dreamed of doing in my life before the injury. But now that option is gone. Walking Kaitlin never even knew she wanted those options until the chance to take them was gone.
I don’t even know what this blog is about anymore. So many ideas that have been swirling around in my head for so long...
I guess the theme is that I am paralyzed…that is permanent.
In the wake of that, both my past and my future are affected in a devastating way.
And sometimes you can’t just slap a cheesy “you can do it” statement on that…because even though you CAN do it…”doing it” is no longer the same. You’ve got to feel the weight of that change and loss and realize that the change and loss doesn’t just get processed and then go away…it sticks with you, and it might even get harder with time.
I am being transformed and molded through this journey, and sometimes a shift as dramatic as this one makes you confused about everything that you were and everything that you did before the opportunities for your life were diminished and changed beyond recognition…
But in this I have to remember what doesn’t change. How is paralyzed Kaitlin the same as walking Kaitlin?
This new person still has the same purpose. To make disciples for the glory of God and the joy of all people.
That remains true. That is a foundation. That is not a band aid.
This journey is tough…and it’s ongoing. You think you’ve got one thing processed and now you’re good…it’s all figured out…until it’s not.
Praise God for His consistency in this ever shifting life.