Here I Am

It’s funny how when you go through repeated misfortune, one darn thing after another, you can start to feel a sort of shame. Embarrassed to even mention your latest adversity to anyone. It’s like you have a Scarlet Letter on your forehead and that letter is a big, ol’ “L.” (That’s “L” for “loser,” in case anybody didn’t get that.) And that shame makes you want to go somewhere warm and dark and curl up in a ball. Or at least, that’s how I’ve been feeling.

Seriously…the other day, I was in our little walk-in closet putting Tom’s clothes away when I suddenly felt the urge to curl up in a little pile of his clothes (the man has a distinct aversion to hangers). I closed the door and sat down in Tom’s shirts and pants—my knees drawn up to my chest, my head down, and closed my eyes.

This has happened more than once lately. I call it “going fetal.” Of course, I’m too stiff and old to really lie down and curl up in a ball. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be able to get back up. It would be just my luck to have to call 911 to come rescue me from my fetal position. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

It’s funny, too, how when I start to write about it, I just can’t help but fall back (no pun intended) on humor. It is so much easier than talking about pain, isn’t it? And people love people who make them laugh. About a year and a half ago, in a post about the difficulty of writing about difficulties, I wrote:  Why is it so hard for us to lay our souls bare—to expose our deepest griefs and yearnings?  What are we afraid of? Why do I feel something close to shame when I talk about my sadness?

Well, I suppose everyone would answer those questions differently, but I think for most folks, one of the main reasons is simply a fear that people won’t like the broken parts of you. It’s a human need and hunger, this deep desire to be liked—no wonder we are so afraid! And the truth is, we’ve had “friends” that have turned away because we’ve lost our light-heartedness of late. One of Tom’s co-workers said to him the other day, frowning, “You’ve changed.”

Well, hell…yes. Yes, we have.  In ways we can’t even articulate.

Too, I think most of us don’t want to encumber others with our own sadness—it can be such a heavy burden. So we put on a happy face and say “Fine!” when folks ask how we are. Like that Ogden Nash ditty: Don’t tell me all about your indigestion! “How are you?” is a greeting, not a question!

No doubt, too, some of my own reticence comes from growing up in a family where we hid our brokenness. It just wasn’t talked about. But sometimes there was no hiding the cracks. Like when my brother stole a car and was sent for years to juvenile jail (which was then called “training school.”) Or Daddy’s long stay in the mental hospital.

Of course, every family has its secrets and everyone has their troubles, but I have to say—we have had more than our fair share, especially in the last couple of years. And it takes a toll.

The latest for us, besides Tom’s knee injury and our long (and losing) struggle with Worker’s Comp is Tom’s two-day hospitalization last week after I rushed him to the hospital when he suddenly slipped, with no warning, into honest-to-God, bona-fide dementia. He looked down at his knee brace, which he’s been wearing for four months after tearing his meniscus and said, “What is that? Why is it on my knee?”

Of course, we thought he was having a stroke, and so did the doctors until they did a battery of every kind of stroke-detecting test there is. All normal. They kept him overnight before finally deciding that he had a strange and fairly unusual malady called Transient Global Amnesia.

Never heard of it? Me, neither. But I can tell you that it’s very, very real and very, very scary.

And, yes, I AM truly thankful that it wasn’t a stroke and that Tom is now fully coherent and the only obvious vestige from our experience are the big hospital bills that will soon be in our mailbox. But I feel like I’ve aged twenty years in the past two and I’m so, so very tired and sad and I can’t stop crying at the drop of a hat and I feel weird and detached from people like I’m looking at them from the wrong end of a telescope and I can see in their eyes that my weirdness shows and even my writing seems weird when I read it over and I’ll read my emails (that take forever to write) a million times before I send them and sometimes don’t send them at all because who wants people to see you when you’re crazy?

And, that, my friends, is why I haven’t blogged.

We’ve all heard folks say (about going through adversity): What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. Well, maybe that’s true sometimes…but I can tell you that I don’t feel so strong right now. I feel puny, weak, fragile, and faint of heart.

But this where I am right now. And this is who I am right now, I reckon. Here I am. All my unraveling and loose threads and tears and rips right here for all to see. I’ve always told my children to be true to themselves and others, so I guess that’s what I’m doing. Being true. I also tell them that even if putting one step in front of another is about all you can manage, do it. No matter how slow or faltering the steps. I guess I’m doing that, too.

So here I am. Being true and putting one heavy, weary foot in front of the other. And I suppose you could say that I’m coming out of the closet, though every part of me just wants to stay there curled up, eyes closed, licking my wounds.

But life goes on and I must, too. And I have to trust that there are at least a few people out there who will embrace me and look beyond the wounds and scars, even when I am a stumbling, puny mess. And who will forgive me for not being strong.

Here I am.

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19 Responses to “Here I Am”

  1. clairz Says:

    Oh, sweet Beth, what a time you are having. Funny that you should mention the closet–when I first knew my then-husband-to-be, he found me one day in the closet, crying. He pulled me out of there and suggested that I share my troubles with him instead of hiding them away. And so I did, and that changed everything for me. I’m hoping that this post will have the same effect for you.

    Not that any of us can change any of this really scary stuff that’s been happening to you–but we can send healing and loving thoughts to you. I’m going to sit in my “Beth chair” on the porch right now and do that. Hugs to you, my hilltop friend.

  2. Ariel Says:

    I love you absolutely, unconditionally, without end or bound, no matter how unraveled you are. I don’t care if you’re sane or crazy, whole or broken, healthy or heart-sick, you are wonderful, cherished, and adored.

  3. sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    Beth, I am so sorry that you have been going through such a tough time. It is heartbreaking to read what you wrote.

    When I go through times like that, I repeat to myself over and over “And this too shall pass”. Knowing that it will not last forever helps me a lot. Because it is very easy to slip into a dark place when you are surrounded by troubles.

    Be good to yourself and know that you will come through this ok. I will add you and Tom to my prayers.

  4. Jayne Says:

    Well, I hope I don’t even have to tell you that I love you and think you are a wonderful soul dear friend. Nope, it’s not fair… any of it.. and yes… it sucks.. all of it, but in the midst of it, there is you. Your heart and soul, and goodness, and humor, and spirit that keeps shining through. I know it’s hard in times like these to focus on the positives, but you have so, so many. As my daddy used to say, “Jayne Lynn… put your shoulders back (and well, he’d say “and your knockers out” but I was going to leave that part out), and stand tall because you know who you are.” Here’s hoping you will take our hands and stand tall with us who love you and want you to know how strong and special you are.

  5. Ruth Tasgal Says:

    Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and staff they comfort me…Psalms 23

    There are always new opportunities with every discouraging event. May His Spirit guide you…

  6. LindaW. Says:

    Sorry to read that you’ve had a tough time. Just said a little prayer for you and Tommy and all the folks who are healing right now.

    That photo is beautiful.

  7. Martha Says:

    Beth, I’m so sorry that you are going through all this, and I can certainly understand how tried you are. I don’t know what to say except that I think you are a beautiful soul, and I would never think less of you just because you are going through a hard time. And I hope that the road clears and all beautiful things come your way. And never, ever feel ashamed. True friends do not abandon you during difficulties, they embrace you.

  8. CountryDew Says:

    I’m glad to see a post from you, but terribly sorry to learn things have not been going so well. I was hoping the reason you hadn’t been posting was the opposite, that things were flowing and you simply didn’t have time. Life can be really tough sometimes. I can’t imagine how scared you were when you husband took ill. It sounds terrifying. I hope that, if you’re not blogging, you are keeping a private journal somewhere. It does help, to write it out. Please take care of yourself.

  9. The Southern Lady Says:

    Beth, I am so glad to see this post from you and so glad you shared your feelings with the rest of us. We have all been where you are at one time or another. I know that does not help but it’s true in my case at least. It always helped me to write down my true feelings and I hope your writing here will help you, too. Even when you are down, you absolutely write beautifully. The way your words flow and they way you say anything in your writing is so touching to anyone that reads it whether it be about your feelings or how pretty a day is or your little elf. You just make people want to read what you write down on paper.
    I am so sorry you are having such a hard time and I know Tom scared you to death. It would have scared me to death, too. I am so glad to hear he is doing o.k. You and your family are always in my thoughts and prayers. No matter how bad things get there are always others that are worse off than we are and we would not want to trade places with them. You are my friend and I love you. Take care of yourself. There has to be better days ahead for you. Love and hugs, Judy

  10. wesley Says:

    Sent you a private email but I wanted to say here: read what Ariel wrote, above. Then read it again. And again. And again.

    And know you are loved.

  11. Rider Says:

    You quote Nietzsche: “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” Then you refute him: “I feel puny, weak, fragile, and faint of heart.”

    Of course you feel that way, Ms. Blue. So did the Biblical Job.

    Job was a Nietzschean. “Test my faith and my will,” he said. “They are steel. The more you test them, the harder and stronger they become.” Job spoke truthfully. The more puny, weak, fragile, and faint of heart he felt, the harder and stronger his faith and will became.

    *****

    After reading your blog these many months, Ms. Blue, I know that, deep down, you’re like Job. I know that, someday after all this, you’ll say:

    “What does not destroy me strengthens my faith and my will.”

  12. eemilla Says:

    I’m sending you love; I hope that things get better soon because you certainly deserve it.

  13. Chris Says:

    I would echo all that has been said. You have wonderful friends and they love you. I truly admire your ability to write your fears. No one thinks less of you for it, you are conserving your energy in the fetal position perhaps. Holding you and yours in my heart with hopes for better days.

  14. Clara Melvin Says:

    Dear Beth, It’s good to see a post from you but I’m sorry you are having a rough time, But, you know what….if we never go through the valley’s we don’t know what it’s like when we are on top of the mountain. I’ve had more valley’s that I could tell you about. But the light at the end of the tunnel is always brighter and more welcome than the time before. You were talking about your husband and the Transiet Global Amnesia. I didn’t click on that and read it, but I’m going to. That happened to my sister about a year ago. She took her little grandson to school one morning and she couldn’t remember driving home. When she did get home, she started saying strange things to her husband and he took her to the hospital and had all kinds of tests run. By the time she got to the hospital she was fine. She could remember everyone’s birthday and how long she had been married and everything like that…..she just couldn’t remember what happened that morning. The Dr’s never gave her a dignosis and she’s never done it again. Scary indeed. Anyway Beth, I pray it won’t be long until you are on top of the mountain again…and no one thinks less of you when you are in a fetal position. It happens …. Love , Clara

  15. Debi Says:

    Like Southern Lady said, you write beautifully. The whole time I was reading that I was brokenhearted that you are having such a hard time but I couldn’t help thinking, wow, look at her writing! It’s beautiful. Just like you. Please don’t be afraid to share your feelings and to share when things are not good. Good friends will always be good friends and anyone who doesn’t like you because you’re human is not a good friend! I know what you mean though, because I hesitate to tell all the dirt when I’m writing a story for my blog. I worry too much what others will think of me. But we have to find the strength and the courage to be ourselves. We don’t want those other people who wouldn’t like us if they knew our troubles, do we? No! What do we care about people like that? We all have shoulders so our friends can lean on them.

    “A joy shared is twice a joy, but a sorrow shared is half a sorrow.”–Unknown.

  16. Jes Says:

    My love and thoughts and good wishes sent your way. In the same way that writing about adversity is hard, responding to it is difficult as well–other than the trite answers. I’m overjoyed to hear that Tom is ok (was terrified this post was going in another direction), but I can’t imagine the emotions you all have been going through. So, love and peace and love to you.

  17. Ginger Says:

    Dear Beth.
    Real is better. Real is best. Thank you.
    Ginger
    PS I have missed your writing, and it is good to read your words. They are rich and true. Your true self is valuable to many. Thanks so much for not hiding forever. Praying for light and hope.

  18. Vicki Lane Says:

    Oh dear — I missed this post till now. And how glad I am to see that’s things have improved. What a scary time.

  19. Darla Says:

    “I feel puny, weak, fragile, and faint of heart.” My heart embraces yours, dear brave soul (as CPE would address you, and I love this recognition of our gentle steps onward in life). May you feel no shame or burden in sharing your Self. (((bighug)))

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