Recovery of any kind is hard to talk about. I'm having a hard time talking about it now, because coming back from your most vulnerable isn't something easy. Its like gluing together a vase you broke; piece by piece, you arrange the fragments until it looks like it did before it broke, but in the right light you can see the glue seeping out of the edges. You make a mental note: this will do for now, but I definitely need a new vase.
When you're recovering, you don’t get a new vase. You have to be the new vase. I'm going to share while I glue myself back together.
In April of 2017, I learned that I had a large tumour growing at the back of my brain, and the medical team at my hospital luckily had it removed about a week after finding it, despite the Easter long weekend being fresh in the air. It was affecting the area of my brain responsible for the coordination and fine motor skills on the left side of my body, and it presented with severe headaches, gradual loss of motor skills on my left side and poor vision in my left eye (which we learned was due to the loss of muscle control).
My tumour story fits pretty easily into a couple of sentences, my recovery story does not.
There is a physical aspect to my recovery. I lost my voice after my surgery and it never really came back. My motor skills aren't 100% back on my left side yet, so I'm unable to go back to work waitressing yet. Despite being able to walk with little difficulty, I'm completely unable to jog in place for more than ten seconds. These serve as daily reminders that I'm not quite my old self yet, but I try to push past the frustration and wear it as a badge of honour. It doesn't always work.
In my recovery, I've truly learned how loved I am. I've also learned that being loved doesn't always make hard things easier. Coming back from surgery felt like crawling from a hole in the ground, screaming Here I am, pity me in all of my pain to a horde of onlookers. I felt gawked at, my eyes didn't point in the same direction at first, my medication broke me out and made my hair very greasy, and I knew everyone knew how weak I was. Humiliating. But I wasn’t able to walk without difficulty for months, wasn't comfortable driving and whether I liked it or not, I needed them. Really needing them and being forced to live in such public vulnerability for so long left me in this hangover of shame. From needing too much. From taking too much.
I've also, like most people, learned a lot about myself and how I want to live my life through recovery. I've always felt afraid and anxious, but when I rolled into the surgical ward on that stretcher, I knew those could be my last moments and I wasn’t afraid. I remember thinking in that moment that I was at peace with whatever happened, and now the things that used to scare me just don't seem so bad anymore. Like being seen, or making mistakes, or being myself. Now, to me, those things all just sound like a beautiful life, and that's what I want more than anything.
Here is where I'll be sharing the ways I want to make my life beautiful. Creating a meal, a home or a painting is part of it, but truly accepting myself and sharing my journey is how I'll create my most beautiful life. I learned that I only have one.