I Once Was Lost...

Originally posted 11/26/2010

I didn't like where I lived, what I was doing, how I looked, how I felt or my new neighborhood. We had no choice but to move because we needed a different house plan because my legs were not cooperating. I felt betrayed by my body. I was resentful of the changes I had to accept.

 I was 34 and my body had swelled to sixty pounds its normal size. Sixty pounds is a lot, but its even more on a short body.

My parenting skills now consisted of calling the kids to my room. Shopping meant being pushed in a wheel chair or using one of those electric carts. Driving, was sporadic. I couldn't drive when I didn't feel well.

All of the parts of me, my life and my gifts, were lost- gone.  Cooking, cleaning, music- all became something that I used to do.  

I lost my sharp sense of direction. Looking in the mirror was a shock. The body and person looking back was no one I knew.  My entire life was unrecognizable.

 I'd lost my place in the community. But the worst of it, was church. For years I'd been a contributor. I'd given my all, as if somehow giving made me valuable. 

I was a church lady. I went to everything, helped with everything, and stayed to clean up. Now, however, whatever end of things I was on, it certainly wasn't the giving end. 

My mistaken economy meant that I lost my value as a person and my mind. People talked down to me. A well meaning woman who felt it her duty to check on me monthly told me,  "It's good you are sick, our neighborhood needs to learn about service." 

 Everything about me from my brain, my body, my parenting, my social life, my purpose on earth felt invalid.

My energy was poured into getting myself to and from physical therapy twice a week. My kids got used to doing a lot more for themselves.

My husband stepped up by being Mr. Mom, Mr. Dad and Mr. Nurse, giving me shots every day. We never expected our marriage to work into this arrangement.

The in-between time was killing me. I loved reading, but I couldn't do it anymore. I'd been reading the same first page for two months and I had no idea what it said. 

Despite my inability to read and comprehend, I still loved books and wanted to read. 

On a rare trip to the post office after physical therapy, feeling as if I was Cinderella and the clock was striking midnight, I stared at the Used Book store next door.  Being so tired from physical therapy, I knew I needed to go straight home, but I also needed to go into that store.    

 It was a short walk.  Sounding like a horror movie character, I drug myself, my ugly shoes and the braced up legs into the small store.  It smelled of old papers and old books. I felt like a diabetic in a candy shop.  I could look, but I couldn't really enjoy. My brain was mush.

 I perused some of the classics and placed them back on the shelf.  I believe there must be a law, that every used book store must have a copy of "Swiss Family Robinson."  This store had a few. 

The title to one book made me laugh. "How To Make $18,000 A Year Free-Lance Writing." I pulled it down, and opened the first pages to see the copyright year, 1957. 

 I bought it.

For months I read and re-read it in my limited way.  I couldn't remember any of it. 

I hauled it back and forth to physical therapy. The smell of the old paper was comforting to me.  The feel of the cloth-bound book became a sort of security blanket.

 I'd always wanted to be a writer, at least since my sixth grade teacher taught us about creating plots. I loved writing. I won second place in an essay contest that year. Having something to consider, and think about doing something useful when I felt so useless gave me hope. 

 I didn't follow Larston D. Farrar's 1957  writing advice.  I didn't amass a pile of rejection letters as he recommends, but I started to write in a notebook by my bed.  I found writersontheloose.com.  Even on really bad days, I could type a few words. I wrote, and wrote and wrote. I wrote about politics, my kids, my husband, my dreams, my life. My writing is certainly self-centered, but in those moments, I found my mind. It took me hours to write a few paragraphs, but what else was I going to do with my time? 

As I sat home and the whole world went on without me, I at least had something I could do that filled my time.  I began to feel a little less INVALID.

 I found some wonderful supportive people. I attended physical therapy for two years.  And sometimes I return when things get rusty.  I'm am one of their "frequent fliers".

Now when people talk about weight or exercise, I speak up, "it took a lot of hard work and years to get this way, I'm not about to give it up easily."

Most of my vanity about the way I look is gone.

The leg braces haven't been worn for years. The wheel chair is only used on really bad days or if we travel distances.  No one would look at me now and know anything is wrong.  

Miracles- that I don't wear braces or take shots anymore.

Mr. Man- has a bit more of a life, but he still takes very good care of me.

And that's how I came to write- and sharing in this writing experience, helped me to find myself.

One day, I got a private email from a reader who shared she was dying of a brain tumor. She thanked me for what I had written. 

 Her few words, smacked me upside the head.  Here I was wallowing in my self-centered losses.  But what had I lost?  

A way of life? Life changes all the time.  I was here.  I was alive.  I would see my kids grow and I would be here for them.  She would not be there for hers.  She was pregnant with brain tumor.  She taught me more in a few seconds than I'd learned in the past few years.

My quiet pity party of not being who I used to, seemed so self-centered and petty. I wasn't dying or wasting away. My life had merely changed. It wasn't over. I didn't have to worry about leaving kids behind.

That was a slap in the face.

Eighteen months later, I read her obituary in the mail... "survived by"

Awful- Awful words, "survived by."

 Sure, my life has changed.  Many things have returned, but I've been more than compensated for the losses and given a great deal of undeserved blessings. 

 I've been keeping myself busy any many ways. I am not my gifts or talents, I am not my social life, I am what ever I am today- now- in this very moment.
And for that, that through the Grace of My Creator who allowed me to stay here on earth in the best of circumstances. He's given me wonderful children and grandsons.  Little boys full of life.  He's allowed me the desire to write, for those who read anything I write and for those who are constant and kind to me, I am grateful.

 "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.... I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see.

T'was Grace that taught... my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear... the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares... we have already come. T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far... and Grace will lead us home. 

 The Lord has promised good to me... His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be... as long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace. 

 When we've been here ten thousand years... bright shining as the sun. We've no less days to sing God's praise... then when we've first begun.


Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.... I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see.

© 2010 Miss K - 10/24/13

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