To Those Who Doubt Me,
Please, do not tell me what I cannot do. There are millions of things that are worse than an arthritic hand, a hand with only a thumb and pointer finger that are fully functional. Or the wee little panic monster living in my brain, you learn to live with OCD just like you would live with any chemical imbalance; one day at a time. Look around you; you never have to look very hard or very long to find something worse. I consider myself lucky in that respect.
If I want to mow my parents lawn as well as their next door neighbors – whose grandchild is dying in Children’s Hospital- please don’t tell me I cannot do this. I can tie a twisty tie around the power mower lever and push with my palms. I can rest for ten minutes here and there and elevated the swollen, screaming appendage then continue the task at hand (no pun intended, although it is a good one). Real pain is having a mother whose lungs will not allow her to do the yard work she has always loved, or losing a grandchild whose heart has given it up as a bad job.
If I want to clean my neighbor’s house to prepare for the impending arrival of their first child, please do not tell me I cannot do this. This is may seem like a double no-no for someone struggling with infertility, multiple miscarriages, and OCD that gets set off at the drop of a hat around baby items. It may seem a no-no situation to avoid the panic monster living in my brain, that little bastard and I have learned to live together, he won’t stop me from helping a friend when they need it. If I can survive the war in my brain knitting their baby blanket, so soft and sweet and utterly heartbreaking then my hand and brain can handle Windex and Pledge just fine.
If I want to for hours on end, please do not tell me I cannot do this. There are compression gloves – both those you can find in craft stores and the more sophisticated versions that specialist create for loads of money – that can pull the swelling from my abused joints. There is Advil, Tylenol, ice and heat to sooth the pain and malicious looking bruising. I don’t mind the dusky purple color my hand takes on, I choose to look at my hand and it’s odd coloring as a sign that another day has gone by and I have not let my life be dictated by something beyond my control.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I am not mad. I know you worry because you care.
I am not depressed. I know your concerns about the overwhelming emotions brought on by being surrounded by baby items with no baby of our own are painful, but hiding from them would be far more detrimental.
I will not be deterred. If I decided to stop living my life and doing the things I love for fear of pain, that would not be living. Life can be painful, usually is to be honest. It is how we choose to go about our pain that makes us who we are. I am choosing to be someone who will not be defined by a hand injury, I am not making it any worse doing these things, just opting to live with what I’ve got to work with. I will not be defined by the fact that I cannot have the child that I so desperately want. My heart may feel like it is breaking on a daily basis but to ignore or neglect all those whose bodies will allow them to make a new life would be selfish, inconsiderate and destroy that happier parts of myself. Family is, after all, what you make of it.
So please, take heart that I know my limitations, that I know how to live my life to the fullest and embrace the things that make me the happiest even if I get a wee bit teary here and there. And please – Don’t Tell Me What I Cannot Do.