My “recuperation” or “recovery” has not been something I can talk about very easily, so when people ask how I’m doing, I’ve lapsed into a stock answer about being tired, and quickly change the subject. It’s also why the blog has been spotty of late; god knows we all suffer from “trauma fatigue”, and all I’m good for is wearing you out.
One of my doctors told me that you can’t expect to feel anywhere near normal for three days times the number of days you were in the hospital. Mathematically, it looks like this:
3x = y, where x = number of days in hospital, and y = recuperative period
That puts me somewhere next week for the physical stuff, and indeed, I can make it up a flight of stairs without thinking about it anymore. But the emotional stuff is another matter, and it probably has less to do with the pneumonia than the mental state I brought into the hospital.
When I regained sanity after my Near-Death Experience, or whatever you want to call it, I remember sobbing uncontrollably while Tessa sat on the edge of the gurney. I told her many things, but among them was this:
I can’t go home again. I can’t go home to the same home.
I need to re-arrange our bedroom so that we’re sleeping facing a different direction. I need my clothes to be in a different place.
I’m okay if you want to move. Ever. I’m okay with viciously rearranging our environment.
I can’t be the same person I’ve always been. I can’t make the same mistakes again, I can’t fall into the same habits. All those self-definitions: “I’m a night person, I’m a person who blah blah blah”, I want to throw them all away.
And there was such freedom in that, such a weight airlifted off my body, that I was allowed this chance to reinvent the things that had never worked, that I could scrape the bottom of my hull clean and glide unencumbered.
Yet the nature of physical recuperation demands your flesh be weak regardless of your mind’s willingness. I’d find myself on the precipice of truly changing something meaningful, and then collapsing in exhaustion. Worst of all, I discovered that I’d never really left that place where I have spent all my life: believing deep-down that I was in trouble, that I had already forgotten something important, that I was not doing what I was supposed to do, and I was already late.
Tessa and I decided that I should take the summer off from work – our jobs allow a certain flexibility, and our script deadlines could be pushed another six weeks. Even if “not OFFICIALLY working” was an illusion (since I’m always thinking about it anyway), the illusion might help me relax.
But now it’s the other things. It’s the old sense of who I was before I glimpsed the underworld, the traits I’ve always hated, stuck to my window at night like bugs desperately trying to get in. I am still trying to figure this all out, as I start over.
Because something good has to come from this. It was too much fucking suffering, too torturesome an ordeal for me, Tessa, Lucy and the others who cared for me, to simply chalk it up to “one crazy spring”. I was given a chance to wipe clean and rewrite sections of my life that weren’t working, and if I don’t do it, the only lesson I can take away from being that sick is “there is only to survive” – and that, my loved ones, is not remotely good enough.
Lucy practicing aerial silks in the barn