Being a Can Person in a World of Cant's
Last night I parked in the handicap spot at the grocery store. Now don't worry - I have the little placard that says I'm allowed to. However, if you saw me today or yesterday or the day before, you'd wonder why I'd be allowed that privilege. You see, I don't look like I have a handicap during the day. To you I may look like someone who's taking advantage of a parking place that is reserved for those with an obvious and much more severe issue.
However, what you don't see is the agony that it causes me later when I walk any length of distance during the day. My handicap manifests itself primarily inside the walls of my own home, in the evenings and at night, when mainly only my husband and children can see. It's a pain that presents itself when I am pregnant, reminding me on the daily that I am carrying around an additional person at all times (for the next 17 or so weeks). For some reason that I'll probably never know, I have a pain at night that is difficult to find the correct words to express - a splitting, excruciating, grinding, stabbing kind of pain that is caused by my pelvis separating too far, too soon. It's something that I survived (barely) with my second pregnancy, managed (better) with my third, and am currently experiencing (again) with my fourth.
This is my third go-around with this "exquisite" condition and, to be honest, I don't have much hope (or proof) that things will change until this new child makes his debut into the world later this Spring. With my history, it is unlikely (barring a miracle - which I do believe in).
With my last 2 pregnancies, I dealt with serious depression because of my pain. I'm a "Doer" by nature and I didn't see myself as a valuable part of my family because, frankly, there wasn't a lot of "doing" going on. At least that I could see and measure myself by. I felt like a burden, instead of what I wanted to be - a blessing. I got stuck in a bad mental place, unwilling to share what I was going through - even with friends whom I knew would be there for me - because I was convinced that my hidden pain was a weakness that I shouldn't acknowledge.
So I would seclude myself from seeing anyone or put on a cheerful face when I did, hiding from the fact that I was suffering - convinced that I could "go it alone". I limped entirely too far across the icy parking lots and cried when I got back to the vehicle. I forced myself to keep doing things (like house work) that I shouldn't be because I didn't feel worthy to ask for help.
But at night, I cried to my husband that I just couldn't do it. That I felt like I was breaking all the time. And those were the moments that I was really telling the truth, to him and to myself. I couldn't do everything then and I can't again.
That's where I've made changes this time around - I am acknowledging that I can't do it all. I know that I can't walk very far without being forced to use crutches later; I know that I can't carry even a small amount of weight without feeling like I might split in half; I know that I can't sit in a hard chair without squirming in pain after only a few minutes.
But I do know this - there are still so many things that I can do. I can still manage my team of employees in both of my businesses. I can still cuddle with my boys on the couch and read them a story (or 273, as they seem to want me to do!). I can still converse with my husband and plan for our amazing future. I can still expand my knowledge through reading and study. I can even still make breakfast for my family because I've been waking up feeling better than I do in the evenings.
I can count my blessings instead of my problems. As I've been pondering this and realizing my mental shift a few things have happened.
The first is that I'm no longer hiding from my painful reality. I got a temporary handicap permit that allows me to park up close and personal with the grocery store entrance. I have a pair of crutches laying at the ready beside me in case the next time I try to get up is one of the times that I can't bear my own weight because of the pain. I have my sister coming several times a week to help take care of the house responsibilities and make dinner for my family (thank you Heather!). It's not worth hiding from my cant's - I still have nearly 17 weeks to make it through - but it's not worth hiding from my can's either.
Secondly, I've realized through my condition a trait in human nature that is all too common. So often we are driven to fixate on our "cant's" and run from our "cans". We can't get ahead financially, so we're going to stay stuck in our paycheck to paycheck living. We can't understand our spouse, so we stop trying. We can't wait until our children are grown so we can enjoy some peace and quiet, so we stop appreciating the little moments that make life so rich.
It's easier in some ways to tell ourselves that we can't, when in reality we need to find something that we can. We need to know and accept our limitations, but not let them keep us from things we still can do.
I know that my condition will likely worsen over the next 17 weeks. It's a pattern that has repeated itself now three times over in my life. I've been meaning to write about it for a while and the reason I am doing so now is because I had another bad night last night - the kind that ends in my husband having to almost carry me to the bathroom while I had an ugly cry over the pain. It was easy to start slipping into that place I've been before, but I remembered that it's a dark, gloomy, lonely place that I'm determined to stay away from this time.
I knew I had to write it to remind myself that even though last night was a monumental "can't" there are still a great deal of ways that I can. And not only that I can, but that I will.
Don't be held back by your "cant's" - embrace your "cans"!
From my Gladheart to yours,