Scar #2: My everyday is never “normal.” It’s recovering from or responding to the latest crisis or setback.
Take this last week.
- I go to physical therapy (for vertigo/balance issues), pleased to be feeling better. I walk on the treadmill, look to the left, and throw up. Twice. Not feeling better.
- For five days insomnia steals nearly all my energy and patience. Another family member’s insomnia compounds the misery.
- The one night I sleep normally, my most-hated nightmare drags me back into my personal hell. It takes two days and therapy to shake the constant feeling of being raped.
- Therapy with EMDR helps me distance from the nightmare’s effects, but memories from another rape surface and trigger a panic attack. Once I realize I can breathe, exhaustion descends: time to count the hours until bed.
- I can’t sleep, wondering which nightmares will appear after such intense therapy. After two hours of half-consciousness a family member wakes up, and neither of us sleep the rest of the night.
- Another morning of physical therapy. I’m more off balance than last session; it’s so bad we can’t do anything. The therapist tests my hearing and refers me to an ENT. I add him to the neurologist and endocrinologist appointments. In addition to my regular psychiatry and psychotherapy sessions.
Frustrating. Discouraging. Mild words for reality. I’m losing ground no matter how hard I work, and I’m running out of body parts to malfunction. It’s become my everyday life, but I’m tired of my family having to support me through random crises (like a recent three days in the hospital because I’m suddenly, inexplicably too dizzy to walk). I’m sick of being sick. Many of us survivors keep fighting to create a so-called normal life and promptly land flat on our back thanks to one complication or another. But we’re survivors because we get up, keep going, and make our own normal.
Yesterday I read Karen Ball’s “Tools from the Front Lines of Life: Authenticity.” A favorite line: “How often have you read a book that handled a deep or difficult issue with a platitude or an easy answer? … Those who have been in the dark places know when a ‘poser’ steps in.”
One reason I write is because hearing pieces of survivors’ stories helps, and I can’t expect others to show scars if I won’t. (Plus it’s proof I’m not a poser; posers don’t have the scars.) No inspirational nugget here. Just a survivor showing her scars so others know they aren’t alone and this can be normal. The meds, biopsies, EKGs, bloodwork. The fear, insomnia, nausea, depression. Our normal isn’t the world’s normal but it’s ours and we’ll make the best life we can.
Survivors: how have you found your footing when “normal” is constant chaos?