23 January, 2012  |   5 Comments


Green Bay forever! (no really, I will be in Green Bay forever.)

Well that was unexpected.
Weeping uncontrollably in the physical therapy room, that is.

Not because I was dealing with my mom,
whose body won’t ever be the same,
whose frenetic pace simply stopped,
whose personality is, different.

but because,
oh hey surprise!
I haven’t properly dealt with the trauma from James’ accident.
I know, huh?
What the hell is that about?

Helen Jane, you shut your face, this isn’t about you.
This is your mom’s stroke.
What’s your problem, making her trauma about you?

Except it is about me.
Up in here, it’s always about me.
As it’s always about you.

Long time readers, remember that accident?
Less time readers, let me catch you up.

Nine years ago,
(after James and I had been married for three months)
James fell from a big height,
breaking much of the left side of his body.

For nearly a year, we navigated a hostile medical world through multiple surgeries, wheelchairs and physical therapy.

It’s become a cute footnote,
an adorable anecdote
about The Trials of the First Year of Marriage.

As I sat with Mom in her physical therapy,
these memories assaulted me,
punching my head from behind.

One after the other,
the memories broke front,
visions of waiting rooms,
loading the wheelchair in the borrowed two-door civic,
giving my new husband a bath,
fearing the loss of this man I hardly knew but loved more than anything,
sleeping next to the couch on the air mattress,
panic in the face of uncontrolled pain.

Even though her therapy wasn’t about me.
Even though I was to be positive,
encouraging and
full of healing energy,
I broke down.

Assaulted by complete helplessness
where someone I love very much is
now unable to control their meatsack of a body.

Really, aren’t these bodies the worst?
(Don’t even get me started on these brains of ours.)

I excused myself,
had a good cry and
promised myself I’d work on some healing of my own this year.

Sooner than later, before more than after,
I have to get on this stuff.
I have to prioritize some things that have fallen away.

From dealing with the fallout from Mom’s stroke to
re-experiencing the emotions of an emotional trauma I thought I was way past,
to newly recognizing myself as
simply a middle-aged mother of two,
rounding the corner of my best years –
It appears I need to do some healing.

In the meantime, I am to be gentle with myself.
you are to be gentle with yourself.

Because we’re just trudging through this human experience the only way know how.

5 thoughts on “Unexpected

  1. 1
    heather... says:

    It’s unfair when our minds betray us, and let out feelings we’d long ago locked away.

    I’m glad you are being gentle. It’s good advice (that I never take).


  2. 2
    Mir says:

    What Heather said.

    Also, making that connection is the first step in that healing thing. You’re getting there. xoxo

  3. 3
    Ariel says:

    Funny, I was randomly JUST talking about James’ accident last week! I was talking with a friend about the phenomenon of accidents that mark a semi-official end to one’s youth…and I was reminded of James’ train trestle accident. (It was a train trestle, right?)

    Related anecdote: it took me 5 years to be sad about an ex-boyfriend’s death. Emotions + brains + time = weird weird things.

    Much love to you and your mom. (And heck: the whole family.)

  4. 4
    Leahpeah says:

    You’re one of my favorites. xoxo

  5. 5
    ShellyBeach says:

    Hi HJ, I’ve been a lurker for a long, long time (I’m sooo creepy…?). I no longer remember how I found your blog in the first place years ago, but I used to read it really regularly (I think I remember when you met James, and I definitely remember wedding pics and bookmarking the entries with pictures of Tahiti (was it Tahiti?) because your honeymoon pictures made me want to go to there…), but as things often go, I have not been so regular of a reader lately.

    I found myself looking for something to read, and I thought of you and the your fam so far away in internetland nd have been reading (and bookmarking some recipes actually, I’m an old now, too) from the now toward the past.

    I’ve had some shitty family stuff going on lately, and I have been “eating my feelings” and gaining weight and worry lines by the bushel…for some reason this post made me pause and want to write to you.

    You’re a peach for sharing…and making me think about how at the same time I’m worried about loved ones, I’m making it about me, but I’m also not taking good care of myself. I’m going to make an effort to deal with some of my “stuff” and be a healthier person again, as you so wisely stated, “sooner than later, before more than after.” Thanks, HJ, for being so cute and servicey from afar. I appreciate you!

Hooray for replies!