Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Devil's Laughter

     The day I fell and split open my scalp on my cold bathroom tiles was when I saw him again, the devil, chuckling in the corner. Blood was slowly pouring out of a deep gash in the back of my head as I screamed out repeatedly for help. All he could do was sit there with a shit eating grin plastered on his face, almost as if to ask, "had enough yet?"

     8 staples later, everything had changed. I was covered by a cloud of darkness. My will to remain positive and motivated was depleted. I had lost hope. The future seemed so bleek with no salvation in sight. How the hell was I back here, AGAIN?? After that incident, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I was losing weight that my already frail 5'11 112 lb body could not afford to lose. I had anxiety nearly 24/7. I was afraid to do anything without getting hurt again. I shut down and shut everyone out too. Instead, I hid behind smiles that had merely faded into a series of throwback Thursday photos. This wasn't me. Yet I seemed powerless to change it. I was depressed.

     He was right to question me I suppose, the devil. At that point, I didn't know how much more I could take. Little by little, my independence was being robbed from me. I cried all the time. My mind swirling with anxiety every morning when it came time to pull myself up out of bed or get myself up from the toilet. Driving, something I love, was no longer safe and therefore not an option. I was no longer able to shower alone for safety reasons, and needed assistance getting dressed. My body was steadily getting weaker, and I was pretty much wheelchair dependent. By now I had convinced myself that I was rapidly approaching a vegetative state where I'd be force fed food while watching reruns of Friends unable to enjoy any true quality of life. The space fillers faded away and my circle had become smaller than ever. Oddly I like it better this way. Isn't life funny?! It was the unsuspecting ones who checked in on me regularly and provided assistance without hesitation. Other friends served simply as a brief escape from it all and for that I was so grateful.

     Uncle Carlos is a huge advocate of meditation and was insistent that I try it. He saw first hand that I had lost my spirit and that had him really worried.

"Without your spirit, you are NATTING!" he would shout in his heavy Portuguese accent.

     Quite frankly he mentioned it so damn much it's a wonder why I even gave it a shot. I was headed Upstate with my family for New Years weekend and being that we'd have limited service up in the mountains this seemed an appropriate way to kick things off, clear my head. Fully dressed with my bags and vent equipment packed, I sat on my bed and closed my eyes; my sister still needed an extra 15 to get ready so it worked out. Wellllllll not quite. It was actually useless. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't quiet my thoughts enough to concentrate on feeling peaceful.

"God, I hope I'm not forgetting anything...what if get stuck on the toilet in the cabin? Will I be able to get up out of the bed? What if I fall again? What if I have a panic attack?"

     One anxious thought ran into the next. Uncle Carlos had also mentioned that meditation takes practice and so I was not surprised that I was unable to concentrate this time around. 

     I gave up. I opened my eyes and cursed the ceiling.

"Music it is..." I decided as I put in my headphones and hit play on a recent mix my cousin Manny had sent me. The cool melody was starting to calm me as I found myself staring at the collage of pictures on my wall. These pictures had been up for years and somehow I had never quite looked at them the way I did on that day. As I scanned the faces, all the conversations of support and acts of kindness that I had been blessed with during my recent dark months replayed in my mind. My heart started to race with excitement because I could feel it coming back...my motivation, my positivity, my will to SURVIVE! All the reasons were right in front of my face.

"Ugh I'm so sorry flip," said my sister as she caught her breath walking into my room. "Crazy life. Just had to make sure we had everything before coming to get you. I double checked all your meds and equipment. I brought you an extra pillow. Clarke put wheelchair in the car, we'll pack the walker once we're out there. Brought a urinal in case you need to pee in an emergency. We're gonna pick up breakfast on the way. I'll set the house alarm and lock up. Soooo you reads for 2017 Freds?"

     I had to laugh. Our casual weirdness amidst regular conversation never fails in reminding me that there is no point in taking life too seriously. You see, in that moment I realized everything I needed in life in order to be happy was very much still present. The happiness I believed I was losing was nothing more than a result of all the superficial brainwashing I had endured through life. For some reason I still can't shake that urge to swan dive into my pool though, haha!

     But seriously, I still had love and lots of it. Right then and there I made up my mind that I would leave all my negative energy in 2016 and that 2017 was to be a fresh start. Cliché? Perhaps, but for me, that shit worked. I shifted my focus and perspective on what I still had rather than what I didn't. The truth is I didn't have to be alive for my sisters wedding last August but I was. I need to treasure things like that and be humble. Annoying FT 6AM wake up calls from my best friend, learning to fly drones with my uncle, Skype tutor sessions with my niece, watching my nephew laugh while bouncing like a wild man on his trampoline, cracking up on the way to therapy with my brother, trips to the barber with Deano, cheesy episodes of Vanderpump Rules, Aldentediva dishes, ALL of it and so much more. I also started a new therapy program back at my safe haven, Helen Hayes Hospital, which gave me the physical hope I so desperately needed. 

     I meditate regularly now and make time to channel my emotions through creative outlets. I literally just made up my mind that I had come too far to let life get the best of me. I had been down this road before and I'm pretty sure my navigation will need to recalculate it's route once again in the future. I'm human. I need to go through my process. However, as I've always said the most important part of falling is finding the strength to get back up, no matter how long you've been on the ground.

     Listen to me. Life is going to give you a run for your money! Whatever plans you you think you have there will come a time when you'll hear the devil laughing at them too. No road is paved to be perfect. And he'll be looking at you with the same question he had for me, "had enough yet???" I am a living testimony that you can pull yourself up off the ground and laugh right back at that asshole and say, "Not today...Not EVER!" 🖕🏽

1 Man, 3 Hearts, and STILL ALIVE!