After my surgery on August 31, 2011, I had trouble taking my "crazy pills" once I went home from the hospital. I tried valiantly for almost a week...throwing up after every time I took them, so I just quit. Cold Turkey. The withdrawal was horrendous, on top of trying to recover from major surgery, but I managed. When I saw my shrink the last time (I think it was in December or January), he was impressed with how I was doing. I'd lost forty pounds since my surgery. I was in a "good place" mentally and emotionally. I had better color than the last time he'd seen me. So, he advised me not to go back on my meds, and to let him know if anything changed.
Its changed. The past few weeks, I've really struggled. Our family trip to Disney was ok I suppose...I was emotionally detached from my family most of the trip. I just wasn't "feeling" Disney like I always have in the past. I was embarrassed to be in a wheelchair the entire time. I felt like a burden on my family. I was annoyed that even though it was February, there were still crowds of rude people there. I noticed little things that I never would have seen at Disney in years previous...duct tape on some of the rides...missing sequins and braid from some of the castmembers' costumes...ripped out hems...it seemed everything was getting me down.
Now I sit here on the cusp of my forty-second birthday. In fact, in two and a half hours, I'll be 42 "officially." I think back on my life, and really, I haven't done any of the things I thought I would have. I've had some gorgeous, smart, talented children...at least I got that part right. But everything else...not so much.
I cry. A lot. Frequently. I often have moments when I have to think really hard about whether a "memory" is really a memory or what I wish had happened instead. I have a very active imagination, and its been working in overdrive since I lost Ruby in 2008. Sometimes I actually look around for her...it gets quiet in the house during the day and I rush into another room to see what trouble she's getting into...because when children get quiet, they're getting into trouble, right? The only problem is, I never knew Ruby. I never held her. I never even SAW her that I can remember. I shouldn't have this little life in my head where she lived and is a happy, healthy toddler now. I sometimes look around, surprised that I'm living in Mississippi, and not stationed somewhere with the Army. I forget that I left that life behind twenty years ago...instead I sometimes wake up, thinking I'm flying a helicopter on some medical mission. That never happened. The closest I ever came was getting to ride second seat on some maintenance test flights (one pilot, one crew chief). But...sometimes I wake up and rush to get dressed, thinking I'm late for PT formation, and I can't find my PT uniform, and panic before I remember that I haven't had to wear a PT uniform since 1998 (the year I left the National Guard). Its weird. I wonder if I'm losing my blooming mind.
I don't know what's real and what isn't anymore. Many times I look at what few records I was able to obtain from the VA, trying desperately to remember things...the proper order of things. I have no mementos from high school or my Army days, because I lost everything I had in storage when I moved from Jackson back to Hattiesburg, and what little I had brought with me I lost in a house fire a few years later. The ONLY thing I have left is my flight jacket, and a picture I signed to my dad when I was in basic training. I found it in a trunk of his belongings I retrieved from his ex-wife after he went to prison. Everything else...lost. When you have a hard time remembering things, losing little tangible pieces of your past hurts...a lot.
I sit here tonight, listening to my husband snore, the washer running, the cats playing in the kitchen...and THIS...what I can see and hear tonight...feels like the dream. This "reality" feels like I'm dreaming and need to wake up and go back to my "real" life. A life less pleasant in many ways, but also a life in which I can still run...still shoot...still fly every day...still be...ME. I don't know who I am anymore.