Following my four-month hiatus from the world, I realized that my Tempur-pedic wasn’t going to help with anything other than sleep. I needed to snap out of what I was going through. Being a person who liked to make lists, I did just that. One bright sunny day, I sat and created what would be my most important list…ever. The list that allowed me to own up to the course my life had taken. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, I had one life to live and I needed to accept what had occurred and move on.
I had stopped working a few months prior due to the ongoing medical problems and because my company expected full-time output from a part-time person and were playing hardball with the amount of hours my doctors would allow me to work. I also knew they didn’t want me working so I swallowed my pride and agreed with my doctors that a reduction in stress could be the best medicine for many reasons. To be honest, it was difficult accepting disability full-time. However, I was glad to have Long Term Disability to rely on and thankful that I participated in the benefit option each year. Even though it was a reduction in our monthly income and with my daughter going to college, we knew exceptions and adjustments would need to be made.
The biggest disappointment was that my daughter would not attend American University and that broke my heart. This was one of two things I wanted for the two people who turned their lives inside out and never complained. Sadly, she needed to select a less expensive college and has since transferred colleges twice. I had also wanted to send my husband to Phillies training camp as a surprise; however, since we lost the trial, this remains something I would like to do in the future. It still makes me very sad even today that I was unable to do these two things to thank them for all they did for me.
The first six months of not working was tough and to be honest, I felt as if my identity had been taken away. However, I concentrated on my many accomplishments since the beginning of my career and knew that no one could ever take those away. Instead of looking ahead — I got satisfaction from the work I had done in the past.
Around this same time I also joined Facebook following a recommendation and much hand-holding from my daughter. It allowed me to reach out to past friends, family and coworkers without having to be face-to-face. I could be as social, or as anti-social, as I wanted. The first two friends I found on Facebook were from college and high school. The first one, who I have written about, helped me tremendously with setting up this blog as well with my faith and a number of other things. When she accepted my friend request I felt like the years had slipped away and we were in her dorm room chatting. What a boost for my ego and what a blessing to have her for a friend both in person and on Facebook. Thank you LB. My second friend, from high school (B.H.), is as cool now as he was then. Thank you for being my first Facebook friend and for your special messages about a medical disappointment in your family. It breaks my heart.
When on Facebook, from that moment on, I felt like a non-injured person. I was free to be the ‘old’ me. It wasn’t necessary for me to talk about Dr. Liar, my injury, court, the lies, pain, physical and mental therapy, etc. I could escape reality and it was awesome. I interacted with friends and family and stayed away from the unplanned areas of my life. If I didn’t want to write about a particular subject…I didn’t. It was a step in the right direction and it was just what I needed.
Facebook helped me rejoin the land of the living — when I wanted, and for the amount of time I needed. I have heard people speak both positive and negative about social networking, but for me, it was just what I needed, when I needed it and I will always be grateful. I hope more people who are ‘disabled’ will utilize one of the many social networking tools to assist with interacting with others. It really is true that people need people and this is a surprisingly controlled way of doing so. Personally, I decided not to mention much about my injury until I was ready and did so via a blog. To me, having the information self-contained and released when I was ready was more help to me and I hope to others. It also has helped people understand more about what occurred and I don’t have to repeat the story multiple times.
I also began listening to inspirational music and discovered the song Turn up the Music by Point of Grace:
Wake up to the sunlight with your windows open
Don’t hold in your anger or leave things unspoken
Wear your red dress, use your good dishes;
Make a big mess and make lots of wishes
Have what you want, but want what you have
And don’t spend your life looking back.
Turn up the music – Turn it up loud
Take a few chances – Let it all out
You won’t regret it – Looking back from where you have been
Cause it’s not who you knew – And it’s not what you did – It’s how you live
So go to the ballgames – And go to the ballet
And go see your folks more than just on the holidays – Kiss all your children
Dance with your wife – Tell your husband you love him every night
Don’t run from the truth, ‘Cause you can’t get away, Just face it and you’ll be ok
Oh wherever you are and wherever you’ve been; Now is the time to begin
So give to the needy and pray for the grieving even when you don’t think that you can
‘Cause all that you do is bound to come back to you, so think of your fellow-man
Make peace with God, make peace with yourself ‘Cause in the end there’s nobody else.
While I still wasn’t waking up with my song of the day…I would catch myself humming it, which was a great start. I even dictated the lyrics onto the computer and would refer back to them on a regular basis. I began journaling again, which was something I found I missed. Oftentimes my medication would slow down my creative process, but it felt good to be doing some of the things I missed.
At the same time I was still ironing out my relationship with God. I wasn’t really mad; just disappointed. I knew that He had a plan and since I have always said that I needed to work on my patience, I figured that this was a test. God didn’t want me to figure out why this happened to me or if He did, He was going to reveal His plan when He was ready…on His timeline…not mine. Maybe I am not meant to understand why this injury occurred. And, if so, that is ok. Honest.
I believe that it was during one of my daughter’s college visits where she allowed her crippled mother to tag along when I came to the conclusion of what I had been doing wrong for so many years. Since my injury I had been asking God, “Why Me?” I realized I was asking the wrong question…I should have been asking God, “What can you do to help me better manage this injury and the constant pain?” So, I did just that. In the middle of a beautiful Southern college campus I slipped away and spent some alone time asking God to help me better accept my injury, the unplanned portion of my life, and to use me for what He has planned.
And, from that moment on, I added to my list a note to myself to focus more on the positives in my life. I realized that many people who touched my life in one way or another, good and bad, like Dr. Liar, were the ones with the problems…it wasn’t all about me. I had a great husband, a beautiful and smart daughter who was in the middle of an exciting time in her life and all I was doing was observing. I wanted to participate. After all, my daughter was going to be graduating and leaving for college. If I didn’t participate now…I would never be given this opportunity again.
I began reading the Bible from the beginning to the end and asking questions to those educated or have advance knowledge regarding religion. I still wanted to know why bad things happen to good people, and how bad people seem to just skate through life without a hiccup. I know that God doesn’t promise or owe us anything — not even answers to our many questions — but with a background in journalism I was and still am naturally curious.
I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t mention that I continued to struggle with the fact that Dr. Liar and his team of liars have the option to repent and if they are honest and truthful they may be forgiven. That makes me mad as well as sad. However, I work on understanding God’s forgiveness each and every day and wish for the ability to be more like Him. It’s my number one goal for myself — to be able to forgive the unforgivable. My uncle, who is a lifelong pastor, told me to not ask or look for the big forgiveness picture. He told me instead to take it on a day-to-day basis. And, so far, that’s working. Today, I forgive him, but who knows how I will feel tomorrow. Like me, it’s work in progress.
©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com. 2011.