The title of this post comes from Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of my favorite poets.
At 16 1/2 years old my world opened up as my body began its healing. Over a period of 6 months I stuck to a vigorous regime and I could feel my body literally healing from the inside. Against my doctor’s wishes I took myself completely off all pain medications, muscle relaxers and antidepressants, cold-turkey. I was on the fast-track to a new life, and I was ready to take full advantage of this re-deal.
I guess you could say I got a little ahead of myself by picking up my re-deal before my first hand was completely played out. Two months into my seemingly new life I started to dream and see that they could now be a reality. I never thought to go to college because honestly I figured, what’s the point of continuing education if I wouldn’t be able to use my degree in a life-long career? But now I could! I could dream and I could force those dreams into reality, my new reality. I was determined to pursue a degree in Child Psychology and hoped to minor in Sociology. I wanted to help children who struggled with disabilities and dealt with chronic pain. I wanted to be someone they could talk to because I had been there. Who better than to offer perspective and support than myself? I literally knew all they were feeling physically and emotionally. This would be my way of giving back to God for the gift he had given me.
You are probably thinking I had a few years to finish high school and then I would pursue college. Well, because of my inability to attend high school regularly due to all my health issues coupled with my immense brain power, I graduated at 15, right before turning 16. This meant I didn’t have to wait, I just needed to get accepted and sort out financial aid which was easy enough. I charged off into the adventure of college that fall!
I enrolled at Boise State University and took 4 classes to start. My classes consisted of Psych-101, Sociology-101 Creative Writing and “Bonehead” Math (Me and Math never understood each other, and never will). My parents were a little apprehensive as this whole “no pain” thing was relatively new and college was going to be very demanding on me mentally and physically. I brushed off their concerns thinking they were overreacting, as parents are known for doing. But a few weeks into classes I started realizing they had a valid cause for concern.
I began feeling very fatigued and started peeing out muscle protein again. See, my classes happened to be on opposite sides of the large campus and I was walking back and forth all day. My body also wasn’t getting the rest it needed as I stayed up far too late being a perfectionist on my assignments. To the average, healthy person this wouldn’t have been an issue. But my body-on-the-mend, couldn’t handle this kind of exertion. Contrary to whatever I believed, I wasn’t that average, healthy person yet.
We began calling around in search of a power scooter to help me get from class to class. There was no way we could afford to buy one, but we did have several resources through MDA and hoped they could give us one from their medical equipment loan-locker. We got lucky, they had one for me! The scooter worked its wonders and enabled me to get from class to class that month. But like I said, this was on loan, they needed it back. So now what? There were 3 weeks left in the semester and I was determined to see it through. I was going to force my body to deal with it.
I had no intention of giving up, but my body had no other choice. 1 week before finals my legs failed me. I ended up in the hospital with lower extremity paralysis for the longest period of time I had ever experienced, nearly 36 hours. The pain upon regaining their use was excruciating as it usually was, but this time I felt something that never had accompanied my paralysis episodes. I felt the sting of defeat, I felt failure. I had never allowed myself to have dreams before in fear of being unable to achieve them because of my body’s limitations. I had crafted this idea of my new future, I had given my heart over to it. I had poured all of myself into this dream and within those 36 hours of paralysis and the days of pain that followed it, my dream had shattered.Well actually, I just threw it in the trash like a 16-year-old twit.
I missed my finals, I failed my classes. Had my body not flaked out I would have finished that semester with a shining GPA and been well on my way to completing my goal. I like to believe that if this scenario had played out when I was 18 or in my early 20’s that I would have given it a second go. That I would have seen this failure as a minor road-block, not a dead-end. Oh how I wish I would have found the determination to dust myself off, figure out a new approach, and gave a re-try to achieve my goal…but I didn’t. I let negativity consume me and I rejected my dream. I could have learned so many things from this experience but instead I walked away thinking there was no point in dreaming, because my dreams will never be able to enter the realm of reality. I felt humiliated, foolish and defeated.It was quite a pity-party I tell you.
After that event my life consisted of the vigorous healing regimen, continuing the process of ridding myself of not-so-great “friends”, resisting the old habits of alcohol and smoking pot, all the while trying very hard not to get mad at God again.
As I was starting to get over my “college failure” and the depression that came with it, my dad got a job in Las Cruces, NM as a Truss-Plant manager (a totally different storyline but my dad left the ministry when I was 13 to give our family a more stable life. Surprisingly enough, church ministry is very taxing on the family of the Pastor in many ways…). It was time to move…again. Usually when it was time to move, as we did nearly every 2 years when I was a child, I cried. I never wanted to move, and often times I would refuse to make friends for several months upon arriving in the new town. Eventually I would get over it, make friends, and fall in love with my new surroundings…usually just in time to be uprooted again. This time was different though. I would miss my best friend K but I was secure enough in our friendship that I knew distance wouldn’t break our bond. I had nothing else tied to Boise besides her.
I welcomed this fresh start. Maybe it would bring me far enough away from my past that I could clearly focus on the present.