I went back today to the Dr today, as I will be for months, to re-learn how to use my body as to not hurt it, and I told him I had reconsidered his question. My new answer wasn't something he could necessarily address, but that the rehabilitation could answer. You see, I had been talking with a friend who has a chronic disease that is hard for people to understand. After this conversation I realized my one, all-encompassing goal was to not feel broken. I don't want to feel delicate, fragile, or unable.
I think a large part of this change was in thanks to Aimee Mullins. In her TED talk she says the only disabilty is a broken spirit -- and that everything else is about how we meet adversity, not necessarily how we overcome it. I feel that for a while my spirit has been broken. I have allowed myself to feel broken down and my dreams discarded.
It's not that I feel sorry for myself. It's more like for the past 3 years has really caught up with me. When I was fighting to get doctors to believe that it wasn't in my head, I had a very clear goal: convince someone, get better. And then I had not just one but many doctors understand that something was wrong, but also so many different views about how to make it better. I went with the most conservative plan -- physical therapy, avoid surgery, manage pain -- with the hopes that I would be able to keep mobility and flexibility in my lower back. On the days when my mobility is limited, I question my path, and on the days when I'm feeling well, I'm thankful I didn't have a spinal fusion.
But I've never been able to escape the notion of feeling broken, irreparable. And who wants a broken, irreparable person? Setting aside all of my other self-esteem issues, this is what has broken my spirit. I don't want to be anyone's burden, but I so desperately want to belong to someone at the end of the day. In my mind, he holds me in his arms and that little bit of joy makes the pain go away. I think about that moment and feel that anything I have to endure to get there is going to be worth it. My spirit is broken because I know how flimsy that fantasy is. I know that it's not a guarantee. My spirit is broken because for the time being, I'm the one who holds myself at night, and sometimes I just don't have the strength to do that.
So more physical therapy. More rehabilitation.
But most of all, patching up the holes where my spirit and fight have escaped me.
If I can do that, I know that no matter the outcome -- whether I'm running marathons or forced with no other option but surgery -- I've fulfilled my own promise to myself: To be tenacious; to be bold, to be as whole as anyone can ever be, to see the humor and the grace in all things. To be flawed and celebrate those flaws.