“How’s your writing going?” She asked for about the eighth time in the last couple of weeks. I could feel the question coming each time, and each time I gave the same lie, forcing myself to sound enthusiastic, “It’s going great!” She’s my mother though, and could always see right through my lies. She sensed something was up, and opened the conversation hoping I would bite, but I just couldn’t tell her the truth. I didn't want to disappoint her. She’s always been my biggest fan of my writing - or of anything I do for that matter.
Rewind about a month to the 5th anniversary of my accident, and the 3rd anniversary of Sean and I’s marriage. We went back to Oahu where we got married and had a beautiful time together. On the day of the anniversaries, I did really well. We stayed really busy and I felt good, relaxed, and content. The rest of the trip was about the same and I was surprised to not have one of my typical anxiety attacks. The years before I would get so overwhelmed that I had reached another year in the chair, and would just want to kick, scream and cry. I would struggle to take full breaths and my heart would feel on the brink of exploding out of my chest.
This year was different. This year I was simply happy. I had been on such a powerful and healing path that I had begun to wake up grateful each morning for the gift of my accident, focusing on every blessing, big or small, that I’d received due to that fateful day.
Then, about a month later, we were doing another little staycation, and I was completely caught off guard. I was unaware of the sleeping giant inside of me. It had been flying under the radar for quite some time and I had used all of my energy to ensure I was happy enough to not let it out ever again. And then, like clockwork, the giant began to get restless. I was not as convinced as I was that I was done with it. Truth was, I had become happier, but I had also become sidetracked. I’d failed to stay disciplined in the process, and that process is not always peachy. It is sprinkled with doubt, fear, and painful moments, mostly when I am given a glimpse of my life the way it would have been if I wasn’t paralyzed. Like being at a beautiful hotel pool, and all I want to do is go down the slide over and over with my happy little boy while my husband takes a break in the sun.
It always seems to hit me at the hotel pools. That's what we love to do as a family. We love to poach the pools and live as though we are on a permanent vacation. It is in the midst of my joy that fear and anxiety crash the party. I just want to have a real vacation. As Bill Murray does in What About Bob and has a vacation from his problems. Yet, it’s on vacation when I’m always hit the hardest. It’s on vacation when my life is not set up for me to be independent the way it is at home. It’s on vacation where the bathrooms aren’t easy, the pathways aren’t always accessible and everywhere I look I see what I cannot do - or at least not do without worry or assistance. Sure, we can get an ADA room, but they don’t tend to make ADA rooms with oceanfront views. They typically tuck them in the back with a street view. So we get to the front desk, ready to check in, and are always faced with the same dilemma. Do we get an ADA room or do we get a beautiful suite with a gorgeous view? I end up getting pissed that my disability is in the way of getting the most out of our money, agreeing on the better room, and then get even more pissed when I find my wheelchair doesn’t even fit through the bathroom door. We proceed to spend our vacation with Sean carrying me in and out of the bathroom. This may sound romantic, but I assure you, it is one of the most degrading things I have endured.
And here I am, the hypocrite who raves on and on about the power of perspective. Well, it isn’t easy all of the time. It’s a workout. It’s a constant decision to see through the struggle, rather than focus on it. Adjusting your perspective is not the same as telling yourself a lie. Being honest with yourself is also about sitting in the shit once in a while to ensure you aren’t burying it. Because it will eventually surface and it’s better to have it in a controlled environment than it taking you hostage with no way out.
This morning I followed a little voice and began listening to my favorite book for probably the tenth time, The Universe Has Your Back. In it, the author, Gabby Bernstein, talks about how there was a point where she got sidetracked. She goes on to say that when things began to go well, was when she got lazy with her personal practice. That was an ah-ha moment for me. I could totally relate! Things had been going so well for me, and that’s when I got lazy with my practice as well. There was a point a few months ago when all I did was work on myself, bettering myself, and be happy with myself. However, once I was reaping the benefits of that personal work, I began to back off. The very things that were giving me such fulfillment were the first things to go. Instead, I put my focus on worldly things, trips, appearance, and work. After a while, I found myself incredibly lost. It had happened so gradually, and before I knew it, I was deeply depressed and unfulfilled. I was so busy, but I wasn't accomplishing anything except getting further away from the new life I was so happy with.
It is just like how I am constantly looking for uneven surfaces as I roll through life. How I am watching out for rocks and cracks, hills and water. I am taking precautions so my body will behave. I have to constantly plan out my route wherever I go. Once I stop paying attention to the obstacles is when I will fall flat on my face. It is the same with my personal practice. That practice will look different to everyone, but the effort remains the same. It doesn’t have to be a lot of effort, it just has to be consistent.
For me, that practice was a routine. It began with a morning walk with Charlie, giving me time with him, as well as time to clear my head and prepare for the day. Those morning walks gave me a great jump start physically and mentally, and I was more patient with Charlie on the days we had our walks. I also wrote either in my blog or my journal, meditated, and listened to a good non-fiction book on a daily basis. My physical and emotional wellness was a top priority. I did a lot of self-reflection and was always looking at how I was accountable for what was going on in my life - good or bad. All of these things were small, but they equated to big strides in my life, my livelihood, my joy, and my patience. I felt accomplished, yet my success was inward and incredibly rewarding. My success did not come in the form of money or things, but it did result in better relationships, most importantly the one with myself.
I know exactly what to do next. I know exactly what to do moving forward. This was a valuable lesson in the importance of not getting lazy or too comfortable. I have to, or should I say, I want to remain consistent. I want to feel how I felt months ago. I was on a constant high. I was radiating from the inside out and I was best friends with myself.