The frisbee came flying at me and as I moved to catch it I tripped over this step in my yard. It was one of those falls in infinite slow motion. I was going down incrementally, with each new hit I thought surely that was the end of the fall, but it just kept going. I tripped, my leg hit the step, then my hip, and I thought, ‘surely this is it,’ but no, then my upper body toppled over and hit the shed.
That’s right nursing humans. I’m a fall risk.
When I finally came to rest my kids were silent. I think if I were 30 years old we would have all been laughing our butts off. But when you are almost 50 and you fall people get scared.
Levi came over to help me up, but I needed to make sure I hadn’t broken anything before I moved because the pain was pretty intense. Zach said, “That looked bad.”
In my head I was thinking, “this is what it looks like when an almost 50 year old woman plays frisbee with the kids.”
There are defining moments when we have to face the betrayals of age. When I discovered that the painful feeling in my fingers was never going to go away because I had arthritis–that was one of those moments. My kids’ reaction to my fall was another one.
In my job as a nurse I have patients who tell me, “this has been a wake up call for me.” These are the words of a patient who came into the hospital with blood sugar of 690 (normal blood sugar is 60-100). Or the alcoholic who suffered debilitating seizures while detoxing and knows that he might not survive another bout with the bottle.
When we’re younger we can get away with eating all of the things. We can get away with drinking too much. Our body can recover from all of the abuses we inflict on ourselves–for a while. We are invincible. And then, usually incrementally, sometimes suddenly, the betrayal of age sets in. Many times it’s incremental and we continue to ignore it until it smacks us to the ground.
If you ignore the smackdown, things don’t go well. Whether it’s limiting the number of massages you do in a week, getting into an alcohol recovery program, adhering to the diet restrictions that keep you from getting an A1C of 14 (that’s really bad for diabetics), taking up exercise, meditation, massage, and relaxation practices to help keep your blood pressure down, if you don’t make those changes life becomes incredibly difficult. And not just on you, but on everybody who cares about you.
I guess that means I need to be a more cautious frisbee player. Dylan Thomas comes to mind. I don’t want to have to be careful!! My bruises are still healing, but I was able to get a chiropractic adjustment today, and when my bruises clear up I’ll get a massage.
The underlying message in all of these things is to stay open to new ways of living, new ways of eating, new ways of managing health. It is inevitable that the betrayal of age will hit us all at some point, and our quality of life is directly related to whether we are open to adapting to those new normals.
Or maybe I just need to pay better attention to my surroundings eh? Yep. Cuz I’m a doofus.
This is my ‘year of recovery.’ Last year and the year before it were the ‘years of divorce.’ My ex-husband struggles with alcoholism and I finally felt able to make the leap.
He’s a beautiful man, talented, sweet, gentle, insightful, creative. He was a good dad. I love him. I always will.
He’s also a man who struggles with depression, anger, and addiction.
I shared 27 years of my life with him and this divorce has been like the grieving of a death. So much pain.
It is so complex and complicated that it is very difficult to write about because when I write about one aspect I feel as though I am betraying the other aspects when in reality they all coexist in the same moment.
If I say he was terrifying and my children weren’t safe then I feel like I’m not being fair to the fact that he was a wonderful dad and that he didn’t physically abuse our kids. If I say that he’s an alcoholic then I feel like I’m ignoring the times when he was sober–his alcoholism came in waves progressively getting worse with each new wave. When he was sober and not struggling with depression we fit together so well. If I say he was domineering and that we all tiptoed around him then I feel like I’m betraying all the times he was so generous and supportive, insightful, and steadfast.
I’ve been around alcoholism my whole life. My dad was an alcoholic, my brother was an alcoholic, my husband was an alcoholic, his dad was an alcoholic. Even now in my job as a nurse I detox alcoholics regularly, over and over again, often the same people.
Alcoholics have taught me so many valuable lessons:
I don’t need anybody else to make me happy.
I can live peacefully even though there is darkness and depression around.
It is not necessary to stop loving and having compassion for someone even if you have to let them go.
Alcoholism is a family disease
I am not responsible for another person’s successes/failures or emotional state. I am responsible only for my emotions/successes/failures. This is huge and I love it.
Boundaries are healthy.
I am not a victim.
It is hard being a human on the planet.
Life is fragile and precious.
Respect for all humans struggling with addiction or living with an addict.
My ex-husband was an amazing craftsman and carpenter. He did beautiful work. He could put things together that would leave other people scratching their heads. ‘How in the world are we going to get this massive full wall of window installed on the drop off side of Mt. Sequoyah?’ He would find a way.
But our house hasn’t had siding for 20 years. We have sub-floor in the dining area. For some reason he didn’t have it in him to work on our home. It’s a common problem for tradesmen. Add that to the fact that when I told him we were getting a divorce he took a 20 pound sledgehammer through the house and destroyed about $30,000 worth of property–so you can see that I have some rebuilding and recovery to do in my life.
In case you didn’t know, it is legal for your spouse to destroy your property since it is also his property as defined by marriage.
Things that were destroyed? A guitar I bought when I was 17 years old, the TV, the TV stand, my Vitamix blender (if you have read any of my blog you know how important this piece of kitchen equipment is to me), built in bookshelves, an oak desk, computers, my hot tub, our wood burning stove. He destroyed it all with a sledgehammer.
But it is all just stuff, and the point of all that is to say that this year I am in recovery. I’m being optimistic calling it the year of recovery because recovery is a lifelong process. So far during this process I have learned how to patch and repair sheetrock, I finished siding my house with concrete hardie board–in the process learned how to use a nail gun, compressor, circular saw, and a bunch of other tools, and I have learned so much more.
My house is coming together, and so much of my time has been dedicated to that process. There are many other pieces to this recovery. Fortunately the process of physically rebuilding my house has helped tremendously with the process of reclaiming my life, redefining myself, building a better life for my kids, and providing them with a secure environment.
I hope that my ex can find his way back to his own recovery. But I don’t have any control over that. Anybody who has ever successfully negotiated their own recovery knows that it is a full time, life long job, and sobriety is only one piece of the puzzle.
I’m looking forward to the point in my recovery when I can use my time creating music, hosting get togethers, and writing books. In the meantime I’m learning carpentry and writing in my spare time when I’m not being a single mom, working as a nurse, doing massage, or teaching massage therapists. The work is good for me.
Being able to finally write about this is good for my recovery too. I think another very important thing I have learned about alcoholism is that we are not alone. This is such a pervasive illness that there are few people who have not been touched in some way by alcoholism. Just knowing that is a comfort when coming from the culture of silence and stigma that follows addiction.
This weekend I’m going to try to inspire my kids to help me caulk the house to get it ready for paint. When I’m not doing that I’ll be writing, running, and doing the few massage appointments I have scheduled. And when I get my house painted I promise to post a few pictures so that all my images are not depicting destruction. There is a rebirth that happens with recovery.
Let me know if you want to get on the massage table. I’m doing massage most Fridays and some Sundays. It’s part of who I am and I love it. I hope you’ll make time to get on the table soon!
By the way, massage therapy can be a very helpful part of recovery too.
Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, runner, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener. She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.