Today I had an appointment with my physical therapist. We have come to know each other quite well, and always have a lot to talk about during a session. It might be politics, outdoorsy stuff, my work, his work, whatever. And he always makes a lot of jokes and has a fair share of funny comments about my situation, so he knows how to make me smile even on a day below average.
Our session today started off with him making some of these jokes, but as he was working with my right leg he got a serious look on his face. He said that he knew he was kidding around a lot during our sessions, and that it was because if he was to be serious about my situation it would make him cry. He told me that he found it awful that a young person like me had to keep fighting so much to function. We progressed to talking about what my prognosis is, and he was frank and told me that he doesn’t believe that I will ever be 100% again. I am forever changed, and thus my life is forever changed. I don’t know how to describe the way it made me feel when he said that there is no going back to before the injury, but I just knew he was right. It was as though he was speaking my truth.
I thought that I had come to terms with the fact that I have changed already. I have been under the impression that it is everyone else that hasn’t come around, and I have been really irritable with others when I have felt that they don’t understand how much things have changed for me. Most days I have felt ashamed that I’m not able to do normal stuff like working full time, taking my share of the household chores or giving my wife a break from her part. I have thought that this shame was put on me by others not accepting what I had come to terms with. Now it turns out that I just wasn’t quite there yet.
It feels good that someone sees my struggle and tells me that it’s not ok that I have to go through this. For so long all I have heard is people telling me to think positive and make the best of the situation (this doesn’t mean that people haven’t said anything else, just that I haven’t picked up on it). And off course that’s important too, but I think that to be able to see the positive in this change, I need to know that people around me sees that it sucks as well. All this talk about how I will look back at it as an important and valuable experience, that I have to stay positive and think about how much worse it could have been, has made me feel like a failure for not getting better and back to my old self. Like everyone is expecting me to do better, and that what I have been doing isn’t enough. And people have seemed reluctant to ask how I’m doing or to listen when I want to tell them what’s really the issue. So I have denied what I have known to be true, because I haven’t felt like there is room for me or my situation.
So many days I have thought that I should have been better by now. And more than once I have pushed it quite hard because I have felt better and thought that this is over now, that I’m at that point where I can start looking back at things. Today I felt like I can accept that this probably won’t be over, I’m not going back to normal. Whatever normal was, I have to make a new normal now. And it will have to affect every aspect of my life, because this injury that I was handed does. And I have to do so no matter how I feel that people meet me or react to it. Because I have to take care of myself and be kinder to my new self even though it means not meeting what I think is everyone elses expectations to me.
So thinking positive and making the best out of the situation is exactly what I’m going to do. But not in the sense that I’m going to try and keep up with my old self. And not in the way that I’m not allowed to talk about or feel that the reason I’m forced to change was really unfair. I have to change my life to go with who I am now. In a way that takes into account both the restrictions and possibilities my injury has given me. And in acknowledging that, lies the possibilities of true change.