I’m sitting here in my hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia watching a series of old Sandra Bullock holiday rom-coms trying to avoid writing this post mostly because I’m so embarrassed by the entire thing.
You might recall that yesterday I traveled to another state to attend my company’s holiday party. When I got to the airport, I saw a guy from my team and his girlfriend were on my flight so upon arrival we made our way through the Atlanta airport together to our driver who would take us to the office for some informal pre-party meetings.
I did OK all day. The reason I did OK all day was because I was determined to hold it together in front of others who are not as close to my situation and don’t really know the extent of what’s happening. If I’m honest with myself, I like it that way. I like that there are still at least a few people out there that don’t know about all of this.You might wonder why I would write about it so publicly in that case. Yeah. Sometimes I wonder too. My entire life is one giant contradiction after another.
I thought I was doing well. I got through the day without limping or falling over and my travel companions and I made our way back to the hotel. The relief I felt when my butt hit the seat in our Uber driver’s SUV was overwhelming. Plans were in the works for dinner that night but I begged off. I knew I needed the rest so I spent the evening in my hotel room with room service and the television. They have pretty decent chicken and waffles at the Hyatt Midtown, as it turns out, so the night didn’t feel like a total bust. But when I woke up this morning, I knew things weren’t good. It was one of those days. One of those really bad leg days where the minute my feet hit the ground coming out of bed, I just knew it wasn’t going to be good.
I blew it off. I gave myself the stern speech I usually give myself at times like this wherein I scold my uncooperative body and tell it to get with the program and respond to the positive thinking thing that everyone is always telling me is so very important, and after all, it’s not like I had plans to run any marathons today. I had super low-key lunch plans with an old friend. All I had to do was get to the lobby of the hotel where I would be picked up and deposited at a restaurant and back again – easy peasy. But I had that familiar pit in my stomach.
I got dressed, all black everything so it didn’t take much effort, didn’t bother to apply even a stitch of makeup (something I rarely do when going out in public) because I just didn’t have it in me. I walked slowly and carefully down to the lobby that was full of people and bustling with activity. Clearly something was going on. I stepped outside to the area where my pick up should have been and noticed that the entire block in front of my hotel was blocked with police cars and barricades. As luck would have it, there was a holiday parade this morning in midtown Atlanta and many streets were blocked. There was no way to get to me. I called my friend. He explained he was stuck at some blocked street nearby but he’d found a place to park and wait. I told him I thought I could make it. I figured, how bad can this be? So off I went.
Now I’ve got no idea where I’m going. I ask three different official looking people in uniforms in which direction I should walk to get to Crescent and 11th. Not one knew. My friend is talking me through it on the phone as I walk. I get two blocks from my hotel and I start to panic a little. I’ve gone in the wrong direction and now I have to turn around and go back the way I came AND walk a few more blocks in the other direction to get where I needed to be. I knew my legs were going downhill fast – but ran through the options in my mind while I walked and talked. I couldn’t make it back to the hotel (it was up hill). My friend couldn’t come to get me because streets were blocked and he was stuck. I couldn’t just stop and l lay down on the goddamn sidewalk. I kept walking, my legs getting heavier and more leaden as I made very slow progress.
By this time I’m bobbing and weaving all over the sidewalk that is also full of holiday parade lookie-loos and families with strollers. I scan the street desperately for a park bench or anything I could rest on but then I see my friend jumping up and down waving halfway up the street (also on an up hill because, of course it is). And I continue my stumble walk to his car just at the point of utter bodily failure. As I walk up the street to his car, I’m holding on to cars, a few trees, anything to give me a tiny bit of stability even though it doesn’t really help. He looks at me and says, “Well. I suppose that answers that question.”
I deposit myself in the front seat and say to this former co-worker, now friend, “I’m going to cry now. I hope that’s OK.” And off we went for a delicious lunch of yummy tacos while I cried and rambled about how I thought I could do this and why can’t I do this and how could I have been so stupid and what was I thinking to imagine I could go to a goddamn party and could I even make it there let alone stand or socialize for even a half hour and oh my god. What am I doing?
I tried to explain to him how this feels – this utter desperation to try and be even remotely normal. My belief that if I only try harder this will get better but it just doesn’t. My fear that I will never be able to do normal things with normal people ever again because this is my life now, and this life isn’t like other lives. It’s really rather…limited.
I explained to him how the time I spent yesterday in the office was so nice, seeing people and catching up and talking about their lives, but how doing that (just that…I didn’t even have to move very much) depleted me to the point of exhaustion. I got sad talking to people because all I can think about as they are talking or walking toward me is how normal they are and how not normal I am and how I will never be normal again. I resent every single person who can walk without effort. I have a hard time even pretending I don’t. All of that effort to appear as normal as possible yesterday, ruined me for today. It has probably ruined me for many days because god knows how long it will take me to recover again.
I didn’t go to the party.
I feel like I failed but I also know I physically didn’t have it in me. I knew my co-workers would help me, but I also didn’t want to ruin the night for them by needing constant attention at a giant party where they were supposed to be having fun. And what could they do to help me, anyway? Carry me around? Yeah. Not likely.
I agonized over it. What would people think? They flew me here for this and I can’t even make an effort? But I couldn’t do it. I was done. My body called in and said, “Sorry, friend, but we’re kaput and that’s all there is to it. Get over it. This is what acceptance feels like.”
I know I did the right thing. I know it would have been a bad idea for me to play the martyr, throw caution to the wind and just hope things worked out.
I wondered if I should have thought in advance about needing assistance. But the options are a bit confusing to me because none of them seem quite right. A cane? A cane won’t make my legs any stronger. It might help me from falling down, but that’s not really been the real problem lately. I can’t sit on a cane when I need a rest. A wheelchair? Well, I can stand and I can walk. I just can’t stand or walk very far or for a very long time. Maybe a rollator with a seat? That might be an option but I’d have to carry it around when I travel, along with all of the other things I lug while traveling mostly alone. It seems awkward and impractical.
I guess that’s the next thing to think about and talk to The Great Scott about. Where is the line between needing assistance and not needing assistance, where do you start, how does that even work?
But that’s for another day. I’m out of energy for playing the scenarios now. Sometimes the best option is to just NOT walk or stand for too long. Sometimes that’s just the only option.
That’s probably why I’m so pissed off all of the time. Turns out I suck at acceptance.