There once was a girl who lived in a land not too far away. This girl was not very good at being happy, she also was not very good at knowing she was not very happy. Til she nearly died. Now she's very good at being happy indeed. All it took was a bed, then a wheelchair, a lot of hope and a few years. The bed and the chair are both gone but the lessons that keep her out of both are still coming... I think this might be one of them...
Back in the day when my arms and hands weren't working properly (because apparently when a virus tries to kill you but doesn't quite do the job it likes to completely trash your body and make it unusable for a few years-you know, just to show it who's boss), and I really should have known better, I tried to lift something out of the oven. My hand stuck to the grill and I had an almighty scar for the longest time. Last week I noticed that the scar had disappeared. It felt weird having that little reminder of my old life permanently gone. Weird but nice.
This week, with a fully functional body I managed to do exactly the same thing, in exactly the same place. And now the scar is back where it used to live.
Last time round I knew it was stupid of me to even try to do the task the got me burned, it hurt like hell, but so did everything else and I was too weak to cry so I didn't bother. I wasn't able to take care of the burn myself, someone else had to do it for me. I did have someone to kiss it better for me though. I was ok at that back then. I must have been.
This time I'm able to take care of the situation myself. I'm able to take care of every situation myself. I'm probably a little too good at it these days.
This time there is no one to kiss my hand better. And I did that. I made it that way.
When I found the cure that ultimately worked for me (my particular cure being brain exercises that balance my aforementioned trashed body and adrenal system, enabling my limbs to work properly again), I was warned that my life would change. That every single aspect of my life had to change in order for me to not just get well but stay well. I don't think I fully appreciated what that meant at the time. I certainly never imagined my life would be like this. I don't think I was capable of visualising any aspects of the life I have now back then.
I pass the same information on to everyone who comes to lifeafterthechair.com for help, never knowing if they fully appreciate it either. The fact of it, what it means. That they, all their relationships, the lenses they put on the world. That it will all totally transform.
Some changes are sudden, dramatic-and vital if any progression into wellness is to be made. Others are gradual, gentle, incremental. But always there is that temptation to stop it all in its tracks, to give in and run back to what we know. Even if that world was not a fulfilling place. Sometimes we miss the familiarity of the old scars and unwittingly wish them back. Any change can feel scary; full on all-encompassing change can be terrifying. Luckily some steps are smaller than others.
I can't go back, not to a house that is no longer mine, a relationship that was over long ago, a body that does not work. None of it exists anymore. If I want to find someone to kiss my hand better this time, it will have to be someone I see when I look forwards to the person I am still becoming. Or maybe I'll just pucker up and kiss my own damn hand better. I'm not sure.
The person who helped me learn these brain exercises at first, who essentially gave me my body back. The man who warned me my life would change, did not make me move hundreds of miles from my friends and family. He didn't make me go on TV for a living. Move to a city that terrified me. He didn't make me run in the opposite direction of every man I came across. Nor did he insist I go from being the most private person I know-to writing an incredibly personal account of my recovery for the world to see. That was definitely all my own doing.
Not all scars disappear completely but they do fade. No scar ever has to be recreated. Not if we are so fully focused on what's to come that we forget why it was there in the first place. None of us need to drag our histories around with us every day. The past can be left alone, it can be gone forever if we choose to let it.
Even new scars aren't all that bad. At least they show that step by step we are making progress. And finding out who we are going to let in far enough to kiss them better for us is probably one of the best parts...
Follow Carrie Armstrong on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarrieArmstrng