Wednesday, March 21, 2012
A Little Excerpt from the Book I'm Writing
Hi healers! I've been asked several times about what kind of book I am writing, and to be honest, I'm not quite sure yet. Memoir/Self Help? Something like that. In all my years of school, I always wrote the same way - free association/word vomit onto the page that I made sense of afterward. This is how I am writing my book, so below is a small, unedited, rough draft excerpt from it. I hope you like it.
(Prior to this paragraph, I wrote about my earliest therapy sessions.)
There were moments in between sessions where I felt so overwhelmed that I would cry for hours, quite literally, HOURS. Hard, breathtaking sobs that didn’t let up and only seemed to become more forcible with each passing minute. I remember one particular night, studying in my room at the apartment I had in Miami while my roommates sat together in the common room laughing and enjoying life. I became so ashamed of myself and the uncontrollable sobbing that I grabbed my janitor sized keys, opened my bedroom door, and ran out of the apartment passed everyone, no shoes and tears streaming down my face. I headed next door to my neighbor’s apartment. A few despondent knocks later, she answered in her wheelchair.
I had met my neighbor a few days before outside of our homes. I lived on the first floor of the building next to the wheelchair accessible apartment that the university installed just after I moved in. At this point, I didn’t have a definitive diagnosis, but two surgeries later, I still had a lot of pain, so much so that I could no longer engage in physical activity, including walking much more than a few minutes, and it was progressing by, what seemed like, the minute. My neighbor was a wheelchair bound female graduate student who seemed to navigate life with constant ease and a magnificent smile despite her obvious physical limitations. She was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of a muscular dystrophy at a very young age, and how impossibly ludicrous I felt taking my trivial problems to someone who was truly experiencing hardship. This would be a common theme with me: constantly undermining and feeling ashamed about my own suffering. I never allowed myself to feel the way I felt as a legitimate response to an authentic predicament. To me, I shouldn’t be so sad because people, like my neighbor as a prime example, had a real reason to be upset. Now I know, like all things in life, suffering is relative to the person experiencing it, and “should” is a very problematic word to have in your vocabulary. It is drenched in judgment and the precursor to much self-loathing, something I didn’t need any more of in my life at the time.
I waited a few moments after I knocked because it took my neighbor some time to answer the door for obvious reasons. When she opened it, she saw me standing there, barefoot, red faced, tear stained, and snot nosed, and her first words were, “Oh no! What’s the matter?” Where the hell do I begin? I’m sure I was quite an alarming sight. No one expects to see a half broken, barely hanging on shell of a human being at their door at 8pm on a Sunday evening, but there I was, shame and all, looking to be uplifted by someone legitimately worse off than me but unequivocally handling it much better. She motioned for me to come in, and I froze for a minute, second guessing whether or not I should unload my baggage onto her that evening. Ultimately choosing to burden her, I walked in, head hung, and sat down in her living room.
It was the first time I had been in her apartment, and I spent a few moments scanning the room, noticing the accommodations made for her, such as a lower kitchen counter and cabinets all within her reach. Was this what my future held? A shower with a built in seat and toilet that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie (Yes, I used her bathroom.)? I also noticed her wheelchair had the BMW symbol placed neatly on it as if it were a luxury sports car. She noticed me noticing it and declared, “This is my ride.” We both laughed. It was the first time I laughed in days. After a half hour of me crying and her reassuring me that it was OK to cry, the door bell rang. It was her aide arriving to help her do the most routine of daily tasks, take a shower and get into bed. Gaining some perspective that night, I picked myself up out of her chair, thanked her profusely for that hour of her life with my sorry ass she would never get back, and walked out of her apartment, something she will never be able to do no matter how well she copes with, what seemed to me at the time like, the cruelest of injustices.