Have you ever felt like your story was just way too much and so you choose never to tell it?
Fish and I suffer from that scenario and, most of the time, we won't tell our story.
Lately though, because of the (obvious) physical limitations imposed by my accident, I have been getting a lot of questions about how I handle chronic pain and PTSD, because, most flatteringly, people seem to think I handle my conditions well.
Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to talk about "just" the issues I have from that one tragedy because really, there has been far more than that.
I will try to be brief.
Fish and I both had extremely challenging parents. Fish's story isn't mine to tell and I will leave the story of my childhood to my parent's public records (I would never be able to run for Congress, the media would tear my parents to shreds). I will only mention that this was a hard taint to overcome, for both of us. Terrible parents rarely teach appropriate "how to adult" skills, nor do they teach appropriate boundaries, coping mechanisms, or even how to behave in a normal, responsible manner and likable manner. To learn these skills as adults, with children our own, was difficult.
All of my four children were born premature, my three sons (34 weeks, 29 weeks, and 26 weeks) and my daughter (25 weeks), who died in-utero. The boys all had a rough go of it, the first couple of years medically speaking. It got expensive.
One of our children caught a flesh-eating bacteria in one of his hands. That was a terrible week of touch and go. This was also expensive.
Fish was attacked by a dog and, because dogs lick their behinds, the bites turned septic. That was another terrible week of touch and go. On a side note, I admitted him to the hospital on a wedding anniversary.
One of our children was attacked by another child, at school, with a pair of scissors.
Threaded throughout these events were the day to day challenges my accident causes.
At the end of it all, Fish and I have lowered our expectations, we now consider a situation a success if no one died and no one went to jail.
It took the story of Job for me to find peace. I never heard of Job growing up.
I have a love/hate relationship with the story of Job. It is the story of undeserved tragedy. The story of a suffering innocent. A story like that changes the narrative of our suffering and it made me realize that we did not deserve our tragedies and that we were deeply wronged by those that implied otherwise. Of course, Job also tells us that really bad things happen to really good people and for no particular reason at all. Big bummer that.
Still, accepting that you are not responsible for your drama is one thing. Learning to live with it is something else and it is a daily struggle.
One of the ways that I have helped me find peace with my scars is the practice of gratitude.
I must constantly remind myself of the things I have been given.
I am eternally grateful for Fish.
I am eternally grateful for the boys and that all three turned out to be good people, in spite of my help.
There were many other blessings I have received along the course of my life as well, my mother's second husband stepped in to fulfill the role of father (and it is to this man that I am referring in stories involving "my dad") and I was fortunate that his second wife was a kind enough woman to allow our relationship to continue, in spite of how challenging and uncomfortable it must have been for her. I am also grateful to the handful of other people who were kind enough to help "parent" all of us throughout our lives.
Developing an allergy to alcohol at the same time I was struggling, overwhelmingly, with both the mental and physical pain of my life was certainly a great blessing. It was this blessing that prevented a scorching case of alcoholism.
I have a couple of natural talents to which I am eternally grateful. I love to read and read a lot and I always seem to have been blessed with always finding the "right" book at the "right" time to navigate a troubling situation.
And finally, I am grateful for my ability to see light. It is what drives my art and has seen me through some pretty dark moments.
I still look toward tomorrow with hope, because, in the end, Job found peace and happiness (and wealth, I am holding out some hope for that too!)