the long way home


The other night on the way home, I passed my exit. My ten year old had to correct me and ask where we were going. I started to drive to the wrong house. I was tired. I just wanted to get home and into bed. Unfortunately I was headed to the wrong bed.
I moved 4 months ago.
For the last 120 days I have been driving to my new address, you think I’d have it down by now…and then I slipped I headed back to the old one.

Once, a few years ago…out of the blue I signed my maiden name on a check.  I have had this name for almost 15 years, but for a second I forgot my new name.

Even in my exhaustion this seemed important. As I made a U-turn, part of me thought I do this in other places too.
I forget who I am. That I have changed. That I have moved.
On.
Or forwards.
Or at least somewhere else.
I go back when there is nothing left for me there anymore.

My surgery didn’t really work as well as it should have. People ask me what the next steps are. And I say I learn to deal with pain. I pay big money weekly for someone to stick dozens of needles in my face. (This really helps tons and is worth every penny). I stopped drinking caffeine (if that doesn’t scream desperate — I do not know what does). I try whatever supplements someone offers me. I order essential oils. I stop eating grains (ok, I only lasted about a week on that one). I quit running even though it is the only thing that makes my head feel clear and strong. I email and text complete strangers because I am so desperate to have someone say “me too” or to ask all my questions. I get massages. I take long baths and go to bed early.  Every day I take handfuls of pills that make me feel tired and spacey and not me. I avoid so many things that I love, because I know that they will hurt. Or they might hurt. I’m not even sure which one it is anymore.

I also started going to counseling (I know, some of you are out there thinking….long overdue). I have always said everyone should go, but I have never had the guts to do it. The pain is back and then gone and then back again. And as much as that takes a daily toll on me, it is nothing compared to the disappointment. To the struggle of not wanting to saddle any of it on my family or friends. To the doubts I suddenly have about what I can and can not do. My faith suddenly incredibly flimsy. Frustrated by my weakness physical, mental and spiritual….and the fact that I have easily met my yearly deductible I make the appointment. I thought I could go in and Brene Brown it. Say, this is what we are going to talk about….you fix that and leave all the other stuff alone. Within minutes, she is waist deep in my shit. Making eye contact that is hard to break. Leaving lots of space that I am supposed to fill. Asking hard questions. I answer truthfully-ish and go home each week and try to untangle all the thoughts in my head. Which I guess is at least a distraction from the literal pain I went in with.

Desperation will do funny things to you. 
In some ways it makes you less afraid.
Willing to do and try anything. 
I make other appointments too. Neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuromuscular specialists. If you recommend it— I will go.

I have started taking long baths which is something I haven't done in decades. 
At night I run the water hot, almost scalding and pour in the eucalyptus and spearmint. There is no wine because I have mostly given that up too. 
I read. 
and steep.
The pain stops in the heat.
Sweat runs down my neck into the bubbles.
My fingers prune. My pages swell with water damage.
Eventually I find myself praying. Although I am not even sure it is ok to call it that. 
More like being honest. 
Truth talking. 
To myself. Or my god. And I am not so sure about which one.
Sureness is a solid thing. It does not slip through your fingers or down your drain. These days all I know is that I am most comfortable here in the fluid.
It feels ok to whisper my prayers and doubts and untruths.
I dread how it will feel to get out. 
For my feet to hit the hard tiles and the pain to jolt right back through.
So I linger in my uncertainty until the water turns cold.
I haven’t made it through a full church sermon in months.
But I keep trying.

I fight this weakness.
This unsure, helpless, fear…that I can’t outrun…because I haven’t laced up my sneakers in months.
Like the other night when I missed my exit…some days it is enough to make me forget who I am. Where I am going. Who I am supposed to be.
But there is also some freedom here.
Of being willing to try anything.
Of seeking out help in any form.
Of being uncomfortably honest.

It is the opposite of being brave, but it gives me courage all the same.
Slowly everything gets a little easier and I remember which way to go.

Eventually I always make it home.