Over the past few months, I've recalled this book many times--how the man refers to his daughter's disappearance as "The Great Sadness", lines like "before The Great Sadness entered our lives" and "after the Great Sadness came along". I remember reading this book and feeling grievous for the man.. even flipping to the back of the book many times to see if the story was truth or fiction, not wanting this to be real...yet wanting the healing that took place to have validity to it.
Now, barely two months after being faced with a horrific family event, I sometimes wish I could find the fictitious cabin from The Shack, g o there, seek refuge, healing and a real face to face with God. You know, sit down with Him, ask a few questions, perhaps gain a little insight into the future-- really see what all of this is about. How does this fit into The Plan? Where do we go from here? How do we move forward?
I really have no questions about my life to this point...my story is simple, true and yawningly unheroic. Yes, I've got an abuse story, a cancer story, a bad health story, a few brain surgery stories...but really-- Who doesn't have a story that parallels mine? Nothing really stands out. I did the typical things in my story-- I lied to myself about my life, I said it was okay to hide and cover up medical expenses just to keep the peace in the house. I said having cancer at age 25 wasn't a big deal.. I mean, I thought it was at the time, but was swiftly put into place on that one...my medical issues were all in my head, I was a hypochondriac just looking for ways to spend money on medical bills....and most recently (a year or so ago) I was told that during those years I was a prescription drug abuser... (FYI-- it's impossible to get high on anti-inflammatories and antibiotics)---Funny how these things are said.. then evoke some type of validity just because they are heard.
Imagine my surprise, relief and vindication upon the diagnosis of Chiari Malformation Type 1. This obscure, little disorder had been affecting my health since birth..waiting silently to be discovered.. tossing out little clues like breadcrumbs..but on a trail no physician wanted to follow. Weak cry as an infant, tooth crumbling as a child, scoliosis as a teen, crazy scarring issues after every surgery (causing the need for more surgery) as an adult, random lipomas appearing on my body, stress fractures (one from simply walking on the beach) that wouldn't heal, crazy breast discharge with no apparent cause (now we know my pituitary gland was flattened and not working)...until vertigo hit me in 2012-- I had no answer.. I only had the voice in my head saying this made me less of a person, less of a wife, less of a human being... and that I cost too much to keep alive. I felt like every move I made had a dollar sign attached to it...until one day the feeling suddenly stopped. That gnawing feeling of unworthiness just packed up and left.
That day didn't come when I filed for divorce and it didn't come when I admitted my money failures, my reasons behind trying to cover up the expenses. It didn't come when I accepted my part of the responsibility for the divorce or even when the divorce finalized and I felt free for the first time in years. It didn't come when I took more than my share of the debt because I had such guilt, though I had only about 1/5th of the salary. Still, I felt like a dollar sign, a balance sheet...an unwanted, unnecessary burden.
As I was slowly coming to a happy place in my heart..finding joy and love again-- then the Chiari diagnosis arrived. Along with the vindication came what I feared most-- no, not brain surgery-- that was really no big deal. What I feared more than having my skull cracked open was the medical expenses, being a burden to my new husband, having him possibly feel the same way about me as my previous spouse. I feared him yelling at me for being so expensive, costly to maintain.. being, once again, not valued. I feared it so much, I refused to let him pay for my medical expenses. My first brain surgery was only covered at 50% by my insurance and I was off work for six months.. so I used my savings for my expenses. I was determined to NOT relive my former life. I was frustrated, disappointed in myself--and totally stopped loving my body. My body became the enemy. I became, once again--unworthy. The gnawing feeling still firmly intact.
Now, please understand. My precious husband did not facilitate this train of thought...he just strapped himself in the front seat of my personal roller coaster of emotions and held on for dear life. I became a vigilante of sorts about my finances... I didn't need his help...I could do it all.. and I would ask the court, the law, the powers that be to uphold the parts of my divorce decree that had for some time gone ignored by my former spouse (and FYI--that battle still wages on-). There was only one little hitch in my plan... one minor detail I chose to ignore. I, in fact, STILL have Chiari Malformation Type 1 --and a pesky arachnoid cyst. I have physical limitations. However, I was determined to keep working as an RN.. to make my own money, to manage it all.
So, six months post op, I went to work in a lesser RN job, at about 75% of my prior salary.. working three 12 hour shifts in a row...and totally wiping myself out. I did this for six months, before my husband relocated with his job and we determined working that much was not great for me. We determined this by default. That default being brain surgery #2. Here is where financial humility started setting in. We had better insurance..so the expenses weren't as bad (which was great because I was still paying off the first surgery)-- and I was coming to the realization that nursing was not a great fit for my body. And yes, I was still mad at my body about this. What couldn't it just conform? Just behave for once... just get a good report? That gnawing feeling was growing larger teeth. My still yawningly unheroic life just needed a little health boost..a little light at the end of the tunnel. I needed to feel like I could still have a purposeful life.
So, I poured myself even more into this blog, into a local support group, into helping others that I came in contact with in my same situation. Bob and I started our own business with a product I believe changed my recovery..a gleaming light could be seen at the end of the tunnel. This time, I was working at four weeks after surgery, had never felt better and for once, I was sharing my financial burdens with my husband...and to my great surprise (which should have not been a surprise), he was totally fine with it. Never one negative word about my medical expenses escaped his mouth. Not one.
I became fulfilled with my meager nursing work and my advocacy work with other Chiarians like myself. Even when expenses were tight-- I never felt guilty. I felt (and still feel) totally loved and supported. Yet my soul still ached for a little more. I was busy taking online business classes.. trying to get a grip on what my true desires were, while at the same time telling anyone that would listen (which were very few people) about this new product I was taking. I was excited, encouraged and living a great life. I began to love my body again. I traveled at the drop of a hat. Eager to hop a plane for a weekend jaunt with my husband, a business trip, or to help out a Chiari sister, yet all the while with that still small voice that said there was something more.
This past August while in Paris with my daughter, that something more came to light. Magically, my purpose became clear. I arrived back in Dallas with new vigor, new vitality...finally it all made sense. How can I travel the world, still help women (and maybe a man or two), write--and afford it all? All of the pieces fell into place and I embarked upon the path of becoming a internationally certified transformational coach... Perhaps you've heard of life coaching? Yes, I help women transform their lives by resurrecting the parts of themselves that were buried due to abuse, divorce, health issues. Women who have lived for others so long that they don't even know what THEY want anymore. Women like myself.. with what they deem unheroic lives..that are, in fact-- miraculous.
So, I embark on this journey..gaining momentum as I go. Speaking my truth, working on my wealth consciousness, getting clear on my desires in life, culling the naysayers, back biters and just plain mean people from my life... and feeling really good about where I was headed. One day realizing the gnawing feeling was nowhere to be found. Gone in a poof- as if it never existed.
Then--crime hits our family. I mean--it smacks us down. Hard. Sometimes I feel like I'm picking gravel out of my face from hitting the ground so hard. Some days I can't breathe. Some days I can't talk. I look back on my life to this point. The life I thought I had survived, overcome, grown past.. the unheroic life...and I look forward to what life will be like from now on. I realize we will forever be divided into the before and after of a Tuesday night in October...and everything up to this point has been merely a dress rehearsal. Now-- we play for real. Now-- we play for keeps. Now- the show must go on - and with a vengeance.
So here I am today. The day that marks two months since "IT" happened. I awaken in tears, which is almost a daily occurrence for me. My daughter, home for the Christmas holiday, is asleep in the other room. My daughter that normally never cries, but whom I've seen cry more in the past two months than in the previous 22 years combined. The daughter that I am in awe of for her bravery, her resilience, her raw tenacity. I know today I will put her back on a plane and send her out into the world where I can not protect her. I woke up thinking of The Shack and longing for that refuge.
To put things in perspective, I look ahead to the coming week, no work for me, but three MRI's, a session with my coach and a session of B.E.S.T. therapy, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, homework and back to life, back to living on purpose, back to working on my coaching business, back to my nursing job. back to......
I almost typed "back to normal". Who am I kidding? There is no "normal" anymore. There is no "back to", from here on out-- this is uncharted territory. An adventure of sorts. So, I suppose that is how I'm going to look at 2015.
This new year, 2015, will be my year of exploration, new experiences, new enterprise, new travels and my own brand of personal rebellion. In 2015, I will muster all of my moxie and charge ahead into whatever is waiting. I will welcome those who want to charge ahead with me..and I will let go of the rest. One thing I have learned in the past two months is that we can't force others to share our journey. The faint of heart will fall away. Very few stick with us for life and most people just don't have the stomach for dealing with reality or even the desire to know the difference. Many people hide behind "I can't" when what they really mean is, "I won't".
What will 2015 hold for you? What is your great desire? Your mission statement? Your word for the year? What tragedy did 2014 (or any other year) hold for you that needs to be dealt with, worked through, or grieved past? Are you living your purpose? Do you know your purpose? Are you up to the challenge? Or down for the count? And if you are up for the challenge...do you need help finding your true desires? Do you even have a word for the year?...A common theme to guide you day to day? If you want to shake it up a bit, resurrect the parts of yourself that are buried under years of self-denial, up level your thinking and become the best version of you possible... reach out to me via email (or just click the big orange button at the top right of the screen) to set up a 30 minute Discovery session to see how we can work together to make 2015 your best year ever!
Oh-by the way... This my word for the year- (Just saying it makes me feel better)--Let me help you find your word..it's the first step to finding the new you!
: the ability to be active