Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Addiction

Winter, once again, reigns triumphant. I sit here with a notebook and computer full of half written, incomplete posts that seem like drivel. None of which feel worthy enough for my finger to inch up and select and then finally hit the publish button. Forced lock down equals brain block. More than ever, I realize the importance of my river ritual. Outside, fresh air, and exercise feed my brain, but more importantly feed my soul. One day soon, I hope to piece together these fragments of my thoughts, but for now a bit of a reflection, a bit of a hey, I never thought about it that way moment to share. I hope this post finds you all well. And here’s hoping spring forward defines more than a time change.

A few short nights ago, I shared a photograph with a friend. Without a thought, almost as a reflex, I flippantly said, “Obviously, my sister is the one standing.”

I frequently joke about my condition. I would get that for you, but I can’t walk or I would take out that trash, but I can’t walk, are common phrases that fly out of my mouth. I use humor quite a bit; not to nurture the seeds of malice or discomfort, but to grow shrubs over a bit of shame I carry. I struggle to find ease with my limitations. Still, after all of the years, I sometimes feel like a burden or the girl who just sits and doesn’t help because she can’t. I know how foolish this is, believe me, I know. But, then are times, more than I like to admit, when I feel less than, when I devalue who I am. Whether this coping mechanism comes in the form of humor or tears, deprecation robs me of what I achieve, despite my limitations, and only points out what I can not do. 

Until this conversation, with this friend, I thought I was just laughing instead of crying. I assumed I chose light and funny over dark and twisty. I also did not realize how automatic this humor reflex is for me. When I want to say, look I really don’t want to show you this picture because I am sitting in my wheelchair and I hate it. Instead, knee-jerk humor reaction kicks in and takes over. The humor fixes very little. I may change the conversation, but my feelings still penetrate my heart, my mind, and my body. The cover-up is inconsequential. The shame is still alive.

Years may go by, but the strength it takes to point out that I am, in fact, someone else other than the one in the wheelchair, well it’s simply too hard to muster sometimes. I know I can say the girl in the scarf or with the blonde hair, but the chair, it’s what sticks out to me, it’s what beams like a spotlight. The choice of a different description seems futile because, in my mind, all anyone sees is my wheelchair. 

I thought my shame cover continued on quite well, until this particular exchange. As soon as I uttered the comment, my friend shot back, “Hey, no self-deprecating humor.” 

My friend’s response hit me in a place I haven’t been hit before. My humor is a safeguard. Humor explains why I can’t do something or why my life gets just too unbearable sometimes. It covers up insecurity, it guards a soft heart, and it protects against attack. 

While humor is a quick remedy for vulnerability, it is also a thief of confidence. Sure, it’s good medicine when the tears flow so rapidly nothing can stop them. But, self-deprecating humor can also be a dangerous drug. It is a drug I run to often and I am an addict. 

I hope to remedy this addiction. I hope to stop seeing the girl in the wheelchair in photographs and start seeing the girl who cooks and cleans and walks her dog and does yoga and runs errands and meditates and holds doors for others. I vow to see the girl who overcomes and achieves and takes out trash and fixes people drinks. She exists. She exists every, single day. 

So, thank you, friend. Thank you for opening this door. I shouldn’t devalue my efforts or my strengths. It takes quite a bit to show up and pose for a simple picture with friends. It takes courage to allow my true self to transcend my physical self. And for that, I shouldn’t be ashamed. I shouldn’t devalue my efforts. I try, I show up, and I keep on keeping on and there isn’t any shame in that.

This is the picture. I am the girl in between her sister and two loving friends.


  1. I would describe you as the very pretty girl with the beautiful smile!

  2. Or the girl with the hot boots! Love those boots. And love your amazing blog. I bet those half-written posts are all awesome!
    Much love, amanda

  3. I may describe you as the girl with that great flannel shirt :) I leave your presence feeling deeply grateful to have a friend who looks deeply into her own soul and invites me to do the same...I love you :)

  4. I understand your point. We all have things that we wish people wouldn't see (like my wrinkles and the circles under my eyes, my cellulite)...you get it.
    But to me, your writing, your wit, your true beauty, inner and outer, LEAPS off the page at me. Yes, I am one of those that FELL IN LOVE with you, without ever meeting you directly. Oh, yes, through your mom and dad I knew you, but once I started reading your blog, all of a sudden, you weren't Linda and Jon's daughter as much as you were this amazing, deep, funny friend. I am so blessed that I have "met" you, and can't wait to meet you in person.

  5. You're the cool girl with wisdom you eloquently share with others. You're the pretty blonde with the gorgeous smile. And you're a talented cook and loving mother to a great dog! Among so many other things I'm sure!

  6. What a cute picture of you all! I like the new description. Hope you can get back to the river ritual soon!!!

  7. I love and admire you, my beautiful friend

  8. I would describe you as the beautiful blonde with great style :)

  9. Awesome post! I find myself resorting to similar humor, only to cover up that my jokes are about what hurts me most. I always think they are a form of accepting myself, but then I realize that I don't make those jokes about the things that I accept about myself.

  10. I think you are so lovely looking that everyone see's that first then the wheelchair. And I agree, the boots look great! The whole picture looks lovely, the warm fire, the warm expressions in everyones face, the nutcrackers on the mantle! Nice photo! There is a wheelchair in it you say? Oh and the wine looks good too.

  11. I see a beautiful girl surronded with love!


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