When I got better at dealing with disability and all that came along with it, fear came out of the shadows to greet me. I was surprised at its entrance in my life. It had been patient, awaiting its turn after love and contentment had been with me for a while. When catastrophe struck I dumbly thought it could only strike once. But, once I was mired in the world again and the larger effects of the crash had worn off I heard and read about other people’s stories where catastrophe had struck twice, even three times. It forced me to rethink my whole strategy on getting through life.
I tended to live one day at a time, but there was no telling what could happen and I should be prepared. I wasn’t afraid of any one thing. I was afraid of many things, anything that lay around the corner. Unseen things ready to hurl themselves at me, testing my mettle. Could she do it again? As if I had a target on me. I had already seen how bad things happen to good people. There were no guarantees. Like the last time, I wouldn’t see it coming and I was terrified of going through something else, one more thing. Afraid that my psyche, my heart couldn’t take it.
When I got my driver’s license back about a year and a half after the crash I was so excited to have something from my old life return to me. It wasn’t long before the thrill wore off and some days all I could see was how every car on the road was a weapon, seeking and destroying. I saw my car sliding and skidding into the car in front of me after the brakes failed. I had two or three good years behind me. Surely I was due for something else to happen. Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t feel so safe. Fear eroded at parts that had healed, revealing that I wasn’t as tough as I thought. There was more, always more healing to be had.
I realized then that one never arrives, ta-da, at the healed destination of their choice. There are layers to healing. There are places to rest and places where we stop to wrestle our demons. We have epiphanies and revelations along the way that help get us there, to our desired destination. We get more and more healed. But, I don’t know that we’re ever done. Ever finished. Because we’re human. Something comes up and it triggers the past. Our arms wrap around ourselves instinctively to protect, the old guard closing in as aged feelings resurface. It was like that for me when I had my kids. While there was new life in my arms I felt the heaviness of their fragility, how their lives were in my care. And I was confronted with fear that I wouldn’t be enough. I would bend my body around their small soft bodies to serve them, to keep them safe, but I could never be enough. I wouldn’t be able to protect them from things I couldn’t foresee.
To my driven self, the self that longs for perfection and to control, I had to learn to be okay with that, to not have it all together, to not know. My body teaches me that. My body always looks as though it’s coming apart. Haphazardly pieced and stitched together, it is the furthest from perfect, but if my body could get by, so could I. I could withstand a lot. That didn’t mean I sought out or welcomed bad in my life, but I didn’t have to be beaten by it. Shoulders back, I had to find faith in myself, trust that I could do what was in front of me. I set my eyes on what was good and took solace in today. I couldn’t turn my back on fear, banish it with a blind eye. But, I wrapped my mind around a future that could hold possibility rather than uncertainty. And I had hope, always hope, to straighten my spine and give me strength.