The Daily Mortifications

Today the toilet flooded after I pooped and I couldn’t do anything except get out of the way of the water and scream for my partner to come pull stuff up off the floor and throw down towels. So many things to clean and me useless to help with it.

Every time I drop something and have to call him over to pick it up. I’m dropping things a lot these days and a proud spot inside me dies every time I need him to pick them up for me. This also applies to when my cane slips off whatever I’ve leaned it on and I have to ask him to pick it up for me, too.

INSERT VERY COOL AND EXCITING THING: My PT transitioned me to a cane from a walker a couple of days ago because of how well I’m walking. Six days after surgery and I was already on a cane! It was a little scary at first, given that I was used to the stability of the walker, but it already feels better and like it’s facilitating my recovery more than being on the walker would.

About the cane: My partner bought me an orange and black cheetah print cane because I love orange. When he brought it home I cringed. It’s so tacky. My inner style-marm raised her elegantly coiffed head and refused to be seen with such a loud cane. I decided to work with my aversion instead of sending him back to the store. Now the cane is growing on me. Who said canes had to be drab to be appropriate? Why is even that a thing in my head?

Trying to sit on the bar stool with a pillow on it to eat at the kitchen counter and having to move because I start to cry from the pain. Being so overwhelmed that I can’t figure out where to sit. Then, once seated, being so nauseated from pain that I can’t finish my meal.

Needing my partner’s help to clean up when my pee doesn’t go into the bowl like it should but escapes to the floor through a gap between the toilet seat and the raised commode I sit on.

The doorbell ringing when my partner is out and I’m so slow getting to the door that the delivery person already gave up and left.

Going instantly from communicating calmly with my partner about the help I need in that moment to panicky tears, trembling, and incoherence when the pain is high. It’s hard to have so little control over when my emotions overflow and I become non-functional.

Not showering for over a week and the wild greaseball that is my hair. I’m grateful for wet wipes, but still. It’s not the best look.

Being unable to reach my feet to care for my dry toenails and calluses. It triggers memories of clipping my father’s fungus-ridden toenails as he was dying of cancer. Even though I did it with love and the act had me feel close to him (and I don’t have toenail fungus), asking foot-care of my partner hits my pride, so I haven’t asked yet. I’m aware that this is ridiculous and it’s still hard. It was all I could do to ask him to wet-wipe my dirty feet last night before I got into bed and it took all my attention to enjoy his touch and not wonder if he was grossed out.

Calling out to him when I wake up in pain, it’s late, and he hasn’t come to bed yet. Admitting that I miss him and that the presence of his body next to mine, even if we’re not touching, helps me settle and get back to sleep. My independent nature cringes at this sign of dependency.

Writing this list I see how much of this recovery process is about surrender, about not fighting where I am at any moment. I want to judge myself for having shame instead of focusing on the good that’s also present.

What an opportunity to confront my pride and all the places that would have me stay independent and in control. How lucky I am to get to confront my beliefs around having to look and behave a certain way to be attractive and worthy of love. If I learn to accept right where I am at all times then I get to return to the world a free woman.

I pray and meditate several times a day in order to touch a more spacious place in my mind, so that I can notice the moments of grace happening alongside the mortifications. At any moment I can choose shame or gratitude. Sometimes my choice falls one way, sometimes the other. Each little pride-death brings with it a deeper sense of freedom when I realize I’m still okay, even in a moment surrounded by poo-water when there’s nothing I can do but hobble out of the way and ask for help.

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4 Comments on “The Daily Mortifications

  1. “I’m grateful for wet wipes, but still. It’s not the best look.”
    I respect the surrendering of power during transitions: In my world I soften the blow to my ego by trading affluent promptness for long-view wisdom. There is nothing like an orange and black print cheetah cane to take your mind off pain and into the comic joy of our precarious desire to be here. Love you.

  2. “At any moment I can choose shame or gratitude.” Thanks for that reminder M-E. Your story here allowed me to recall the time leading up to the final departure of my husband due to brain cancer. He focused, almost constantly, on the wonder of just being alive, and graciously accepted being immobilized and almost entirely w/o speech or the ability to write. Just being present to those around him, to the sight and smell of flowers, the taste of good food, the sound of music as well as voices as well as chaos, was enough, more than enough. To be alive is an endless blessing. He taught me that. You are understanding it in a way I haven’t had to. Thanks for sharing the hard stuff. I am grateful!

  3. Marlene, thank you for sharing about your husband and his graciousness. “To be alive is an endless blessing.” Yes. Thank you for the reminder. I am grateful, too!