Let’s see, what have I been doing for the last two years?
I turned 40. Wait. How am I 40 already? More importantly, how am I now 41?
Question. If no one hears, “Happy Birthday” sung off-key to you, the birthday didn’t really happen, right? Well, to celebrate the big 4-uuuggghh event, I went to New York to drown my wrinkles in bright lights and subway fumes. The thought of a birthday cake piled high with frosting and enough candles to burn my house down made me want to sob in a bath of tequila.
Speaking of my body’s ultimate decay…
My dreadful foot has given me quite the run for my money these past years. It was more me giving people my money than me actually running, but you get the point.
In case you haven’t been privy to my moans and groans about my defective appendage, here’s a recap: I had surgery in 2013 to fix a congenital defect in my left foot. Thanks, Mom & Dad. Your genetic gifts just keep on giving! The fancy schmancy names of the procedures are, Kidner Procedure and Tarsal Coalition. The recovery was ridiculous.
Two years snailed by and I was in more pain than ever. I had blimp-like swelling, a disfigurement that would make Quasimodo blush, and a limp that would make George Jefferson wobble in his Dr. Scholls.
I tried cortisone shots, little white pills, big blue pills (obviously not THOSE blue pills), physical therapy, ignoring therapy, crying therapy, drinking therapy, as well as, tinkering with the thought of just loppin’ it off altogether and getting a new one.
I was in recovery purgatory, except with less Hail Mary’s, and more waiting.
I went back to my doctor, had an MRI, and found that my arthritis had called, “Shot Gun!” in my ankle and foot, and I was literally on my last leg. Yes, that just happened.
So, this past January, in one last ditch effort, I had my foot fused in three places. Let me just say, foot fusion surgery ain’t for sissies. The recovery was super tough. Three months with NO weight-bearing and having people help me do practically everything had this Ms. Independent about to freak the freak out. I started out in a wheelchair, and then graduated to crutches. After weeks of hobbling on those death sticks, and threatening to crutch off a bridge, my Gingersnap (more about him later) convinced me to rent a knee scooter. That was like a triple rainbow for me.
Lesson Learned: Scooters rule and crutches drool.
It’s now been almost a year since my surgery, and I no longer walk with a limp, and my swelling is minimal. I’m always in chronic pain because of arthritis, however, the pain in my foot has drastically reduced. I have 8 screws in my foot, and I still walk down the stairs like a 97-year-old, but in comparison to how I was earlier this year, I’m the Bionic Woman. The doctor told me it would take at least a year to fully recover, and that in five years I may have to have it operated on again because my arthritis will have more than likely run amuck. I told him to shut his filthy mouth.
Let’s see, what other life bites have happened since my last public outburst?
Oh yes…I had a HUGE job shift. I had been working at my church as the Communications Director for about 7 years, and had worked, and volunteered there in some capacity (part-time/full-time/all-the-time) for almost 20 years. My church was my life. Then, this past February, I was told I needed to find a new job. Another position needed to be filled, and the budget simply couldn’t sustain us both. Unbeknownst to me, my departure had been in the works for well over 6 months (if not longer). Talk about a blow to the gut.
The shift was rough, and honestly, searingly painful. Layered with being in a wheelchair, trying to recover, and job hunting, it just seemed too much to bear. It was all done with very little ripple. There was no ‘Thank You’ card, or grocery store sheet cake with, “We’ll miss you” sloppily oozed onto it. My time was done. I was no longer needed. My years of hard work, interminable volunteering, countless late nights, and fierce loyalty was met with silence. It’s honestly one of the hardest things I’ve gone through, and let me tell ya, I’ve gone through some crap.
But…God was (and still is) faithful.
I have a new job. The church graciously gave me a few months to find a new job, and they made sure I didn’t have a lapse in my insurance. I prayed and prayed that I would be able to walk into my first interview, and wouldn’t you know, when my interview day came, I was able to walk in with my air cast on, using only one crutch for support. That’s a little more classy than whizzing by everyone on my scooter with my resume in the front basket.
Through the ripping separation of my position, I realized two things: I had been burned out for years, and even though I loved what I did, my anxiety had hit an all-time high. So, despite the sloppiness and sting of it all, it was a blessing for me and my family, and for the church too. There are more nooks and crannies to this story, but I’m in a good place physically, spiritually, and emotionally now. Through all of this muck, I learned an invaluable lesson. Don’t let any person, failure, career, achievement, emotion, or accolade define you. The only truth that should define you is…
…You are incredibly beloved by God.
Even though I’ve debated on finding a new church, I still attend mine because I’m in love with the people. They have been my community for 20 years, and that’s not something I can easily give up. The church building no longer feels like home to me, but the people still do, and with that being said, I’m excited to begin this new chapter of my life.
Speaking of new chapters…
I’m in love! Yep, you heard it right. After being single for a million and a half years, I’m like for real in love. In fact, we’re so ooey gooey lovesick, that we just got engaged! I know, right? I’m shocked too. What am I going to do with all of my “being single sucks” bitter diatribes? I mean, I have some really good material for those!
This relationship is unlike any other I’ve experienced. For starters, it has lasted longer than a year. Someone call Guinness! Secondly, it just feels right. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve ever fully trusted a man, and haven’t wanted to run the opposite direction screaming, “Stranger Danger!”
He’s like that one missing puzzle piece.
You know how it goes. You’ve got your 2,000 piece puzzle almost completely finished, and then you go to put that last piece in, and it’s not there. You look all over for it. You blame the dog for eating it, the kids for losing it, your husband for trying to play a joke on you (again). You stomp around the house searching for it, grumbling about how all you wanted to do was finish one lousy puzzle, and is that too much to ask, and how maybe you should go back to school, or try bangs again. The piece is gone.
Maybe it was never in the box. Perhaps it’s just a mind game that the evil puzzle company is playing with you, and before you sit down to compose your finger wagging email to said maniacal puzzle company, you look at the beautiful, almost completed, portrait of a fairy princess riding a bewitched cat through space, and you just can’t bring yourself to put it away because…what if you find that piece? So, it sits there day after day on the kitchen table, but now it’s covered in heaps of laundry and piles of junk mail.
Then one day, when you’ve forgotten all about that missing piece, you’re sweeping the floor or finally folding that laundry, and you find it! And after wiping off all the dog hair and old jelly (which you really hope is jelly), you triumphantly place the missing piece in its once vacant lot, and when you hear it click into place, you breathe a satisfied breath as you survey the completed wonder. A victory dance ensues and high-fives are given, albeit, a little too generously. Then you break all the pieces up, shove them back in the box, and start making dinner.
OK, it’s a flawed example of my love, but you get the gist.
It’s safe to say that I didn’t “fall” in love. I’ve extensively weighed out the pros and cons. We’ve broken up and gotten back together in my head more times than he will ever know. I’ve calculated the risk and ultimately discovered the immense beauty of learning how to truly love, and how to trust again. It has nothing to do with the man he is, because he is amazing. I mean, he’s the bee’s knees…the cat’s pajamas…and my hotsy-totsy, and his kids are extraordinary. I love them with all my heart, and adore the fact that I’ll be in their lives forever (and if they call me ‘stepmonster,’ I’ll haunt their dreams.). It has everything to do with who I am, what I’ve gone through, and my past relationships. But, true love is worth the wait, and the work.
With exception of a few peaks, 2016 has been a real kick in the pants.
Life is like that, though. There are always going to be ups and downs, and curves, and corners. We were NEVER promised glitter and gold stars at every turn. Life is tough. Relationships are hard. Disappointments are real. Pain will pierce. But the key to it all is to remember who we are, what we stand for, and to know that we are never, ever alone.
Thanks for catching up with me, and if you stuck it out through this entire blog…I owe you a drink! More soon.
What about you? How did that minx, 2016 treat you?