I shut the bathroom door behind me. My daugher’s voice was in my head saying “take rainbow breaths Mommy. They help you relax”. I attempted to take her advice—which is really my advice—while fumbling with my toothbrush and the seemingly empty tube of toothpaste. But the truth is, sometimes deep breaths achieve absolutely nothing. Nothing that is except momentarily delaying the inevitable which—in this case—was me, sitting alone in the bathroom, crying as I brushed my teeth.
I cried for all of the sadness and anger I felt that day as Ian sent me photos and videos of him and the boys skiiing. Yes, I felt left out, but it wasn’t about that. It was about the harsh realizaion of the person I used to be and how much—in that moment—I hated her. Trying to compose myself, I leaned over the sink and watched the tears mix with the toothpaste. Avoiding my own embarrassed gaze in the mirror, I rinsed it all down the drain and wiped my eyes so Ian wouldn’t know I was crying.
It is incredibly rare for me to hide my emotions from my husband. But it has taken him a long time to overcome the guilt he feels about taking our kids on adventures without me. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin the very first significant adventure by dissolving into tears at the end of the day. Especially because the tears really weren’t about them going. I was happy they went. Sure, I was jealous—which I talked about in my last post—but jealousy was not the residual feeling I was left with that day. It was anger.
I didn’t start the day angry. The house was very quiet. I’m here alone every day but somehow this was different. I kept waiting for updates on how their day on the mountain was going. I watched the videos he sent me ten times over. I desperately wished I was there skiiing down the bunny hill with them and I let myself picture what this ski day—their first ski day—might look like had I never been injured. But my imagination came to a sudden stop when I thought of my pre-injured self. Because that person—I like to think I knew her pretty well—very well might have let Ian take the boys without her. And I really hate her for that.
I started berating the woman I used to be—the one that still lives inside me—for every time she said no. For every time she told the kids she had something to get done. For every time she didn’t spread the blanket out in the backyard for a picnic or just to play. For every time she didn’t get in the pool. For potentially being the kind of mom who would stay home and miss out on making memories on the ski hill. I am furious how she took her body for granted. I hate that it took an injury of this magnitude for her to put her life into perspective and start choosing positivity and adventure. It actually makes me want to throw-up.
However my anger isn’t totally justified. I know that. Laying in bed later that night, the rational side of me emerged. I know I’d be the first person to tell another mom to go easy on herself. I’m a big believer in taking breaks, saying no sometimes and not being Mom 100% of the time. I don’t want to see the bright, amazing women in my life lose themselves to motherhood nor do I want it to become my entire identity.
It’s easy for me to say if I could I would. Whose going to challenge the paraplegic who goes into an “If only I could walk” type speech? But the truth is, even if I could walk, I would still say no sometimes and tell them I need to get something done. I might even skip a ski day here and there. Sure, I can be angry at who I used to be but I can also be thankful for who I have become—for everything I’ve learned—and do everything I can to embrace her. Spinal Cord Injury may take a lot away, but it offers immesurable amounts of perspective—whether or not you choose to grow from it is up to you.