I told you didn’t I? you know I had to try… to hold onto my own hell-bent detriment… so indeed and, earnestly I let the arrows fly… loosed carelessly to describe my over-tired and broken mind there it was… no doubt all laid out to scale and personalized to the very best ability of me – personified… yet, it’s trifling, a novel compound likeyour loyalty unwieldy… weighing down wrought-iron-bound an anchor drowning me… I tried early on, to say why spelled out in bold lettering… to emphasize with clarity such shortcomings like to mine…
We were unnatural together,
the shock between the eye and the brain,
when the eye sees what can’t be explained,
a dangerously intelligent couple of thugs.
we were forbidden together,
the thunder’s reliably furious crash,
as it chases the lightning’s inconsistent flash,
poster children born to jealousy and greed.
I told you didn’t I? you know I had to try… to hold onto my own hell-bent detriment… so indeed and, earnestly I let the arrows fly… loosed carelessly to describe my over-tired and broken mind there it was… no doubt all laid out to scale and personalized to the very best ability of me – personified… yet, it’s trifling, a novel compound of your loyalty unwieldy… weighing down wrought-iron-bound an anchor drowning me… I tried early on, to say why spelled out in bold lettering… to emphasize with clarity shortcomings as like mine…
As a survivor, I can say that the word “recovery” gets thrown around an awful lot in the medical community, be it in regard to surgery, mental instability and/or impairment, a plethora of varying ailments and illnesses, and of course – alcohol and illegal drug addiction; we hear the word used to describe our economic status from time to time; we hear “recovery” used as a term to describe what occurs during police raids and hostage situations – in the context of anything from tangible assets, to living, breathing human beings. We hear the word used mostly in a productive element, as opposed to a dark or terrifyingly surreal one; the sound of the word “recovery” evokes a sense of upward motion or a confirmation of something’s very existence.
For me, hearing the word so often created a void of meaning, in the human context, at least. I’ve met too many “recovered” individuals that give me nightmares to believe in the idea of “recovery” being a universal one; I’m very keen to the fact that my recovery might not look a god damned thing like the next guy’s form of it – I know from personal and painful experience also, that the next guy’s version of being “fully recovered” might only slightly resemble one of my own first stages of the notion of fully recovering.
DOES THE TYPE OF RECOVERY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Well, duh….
Granted, the basic concept of “recovery” can be stitched loosely and tie together many types of circumstances and people who would otherwise have NOTHING as a common thread; however, the struggles and challenges of recovery that define a person who is recovering from a tonsillectomy for example, as opposed to a person in the grips of a recovery surrounding something along the lines of say: a traumatic injury, a behavioral or mood disorder, or a recent round of Chemo-therapy, forge a line in the dirt between two separate parts of reality. There are vast differences in the goals and time-frames that represent the recovery process of a post-op maintenance knee surgery patient, in stark contrast to the goals and time-frames in question for someone that’s also in medical/psychological recovery, and continues to suffer from the additional challenges presented by ongoing manifestations of anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder – resultant of violently traumatic physical injury. For example, let’s compare:
someone who is lying comfortably within the drug-induced haze of a post-op ward after a routinely performed surgical knee or back or shoulder repair procedure – one that had been scheduled by a specialist months ahead of time, having had plenty of associated information exchanged between healthcare providers and patient as a means of mentally preparing the patient as much as possible prior to surgery and, in turn, “recovery”. This patient will be detailed a strict rehabilitation schedule upon leaving the hospital, typically complete with a slew of exercise class and various physical rehabilitators that will ensure the complete and accurate recovery process. TO…
someone who is in the drug-induced haze of a trauma ward or I.C.U. – post-op for an unknown length of time, enveloped by physical shock and acutely aware of the ease at which another individual is capable of harming her at will; unable to process the trauma that she has just endured and survived through somehow – unable to trust the safety that continues to be promised to her by the strange people she must depend upon to keep her alive from one long, pain filled day to the next. This patient does not know her surgeons, she does not know what they are performing the up close and very personal surgeries on her for, and this patient is confused, afraid and forlorn. There is no outline set forth for “recovery” upon the release of this patient from the hospital; she will be on her own to forge through the turbulence that awaits any victim of violent trauma.
The people along the way during the process will make an important difference in the overall outcome for each recovering patient, as well. Those with heart and humanity are the silent saints that have been scattered throughout the healthcare industry to somehow balance out the presence of those that represent the polar opposite of such kindness and compassion – and there are more than enough of that type.
For me, my experiences with “recovery” from the Ripper and my traumatic injury would have undoubtedly been defined much differently, had I not been pitied by the specific people who pitied me and in turn, offered me the gift of their attention. When I look back on the long and harrowing process of “recovery” from a near-fatal marriage that ended violently in a gore-fest that could have easily been ripped out of a low-budget horror film, and I recognize the alternate routes that it could have taken – based solely on the influences of outside stimuli that I was constantly exposed to during such a crucial time in my own physical, spiritual and psychological battle of “recovery”.
I am still far from fully “recovered” from my own experience fifteen years ago; it’s been a perpetually domino affected chain of events that have followed the day that I was finally released from the Hot House (the local ICU burn unit) – the day that I was technically deemed as being “recovered” and well enough to go “home”. Little did the prescribing doctors and specialists realize, I had no home anymore – and so the road to TRUE recovery likely began sometime around then, when I was faced with an overwhelmingly unwelcome reality that left me more or less speechless for months on end. Those days are the days that I consider to have been the bulkiest loads carried through my own recovery process so far – the days when I wasn’t sure what I was doing or why, just waking up and shuffling my feet for ten hours before falling back to sleep fitfully.
I had the blessing of motherhood back then; and somehow, I also had the ability, desire and presence of mind to appreciate such a gift – my only thing in the world that made sense and gave me purpose. Being a mom motivated me to carry on for something, it enabled me to escape my own world of confusion and the unknown; it healed me better than any of the days in the ICU ever could have healed me. I feel 110% certain that had I not had Boo and her existence to dive completely into like I did at the time of my “recovery”,
I wouldn’t have made it through the darkness and pain – I wouldn’t have even tried, I wouldn’t have wanted to.
Recovery has come and gone in varying fashion and multifaceted manifestations since the earliest days of my Cut-Throat Survivor’s birth; there are times when I feel so far from “recovered” that I laugh out loud at the prospect of considering myself a “survivor”; other days, I feel like I could mow down an entire task force with my saliva if I spit in that direction; it’s a relative to the current state of my own being, I suppose. I spent a lot of years in trying to fit into some type of “recovery” category or phase, to fall in line with some pre-defined step in a book of instructions on how to recover; I traveled into high and quiet places in attempt to clear my own mind and focus myself better; I’ve gone to prayer groups and spoken at huge seminars on domestic violence and chaired board meetings to outline legislative plans of action against child sexual assault. These things have each played a small part in my overall picture of “recovery”; but not one thing anywhere can ever be the solution in itself – for anyone.
RECOVERYis a path, a road to something better, whatever that might be for a given individual. RECOVERYis a haven for the souls lost to the torment of emotional shock; RECOVERY is a step in any direction when you haven’t been able to walk for a while; RECOVERYis the solution to the things that keep us lying awake at night, unable to rest our minds. RECOVERYis yours, and it is mine – and it will NOT look the same on my plate as it does on yours.
And…that is okay…we can still digest the contents of it together.
My therapist says he doesn’t recognize me immediately sometimes upon my entering his creepy, hippie lair on the ninth floor;
“Gee, I didn’t know that was you there, you look different again…” He laughs in a way that I imagine a little, over-caffeinated tree squirrel might laugh, “What’d you do something different to your hair?…”
The spark in his eyes dies down with the shaking of my head and the brisk walk I execute directly toward, frustrated by his ignorance on the topic, as usual.
It’s an ongoing battle for me: nearly impossible at times for me to go out and about without any obvious and public meltdown as a result of the anxiety and self-consciousness…how shallow of me, I know right? Can’t help it though, it’s true and very real – this anxiety driven fear attached to my face and the skin that holds it to my neck, somehow beating to the drum of my very heart; it’s easy to forget that I do not necessarily resemble a grotesque thingthese days (bitter, hater exes, not included) in regard to my “first impression” upon others in appearance.
…but let me tell you, there was a time following the injury when this wasn’t the case…
These days, I try my best to blend myself out with the way that I look – not quite wanting to fit in with everyone else in the flock I’m so desperately trying to ditch, but not attention seeking by any means (unsurprisingly, indefinite number’s of surgeons foggily standing around you, above your head with a finger in your face will teach you to sit back and shut the fuck up pretty quickly).
I’m feeling better now, marching taller; but still quite resentful at the drummer for the absolute relentlessness of the beat I must keep up to.
“Hey! I’m busy feeling sorry for myself over here..can you slow down the tempo for once, please, fuckin’ Ringo!”
I’m not really feeling sorry for myself (Ahem!)
Not so long as I’m on the ‘Up and Up’, I’m alive and…well, I’m alive – that’s the important part to life.
It was after a seven month “reconstruction” in the hospital; 10 for tissue repair and 17 combined reconstructive facial, jaw and neck surgeries, countless skin grafts and the hideous experience of burn bag treatments – that towards the end of the grueling, painful and quite humbling experience of becoming a surviving “cut-throat”, that I began to suffer from paranoia and severe anxiety.
During all those blurry and fog-filled months after my ex-husband cut my throat, I was soothed by the drug-enveloped safeties of the good ol’ I.V. drip morphine machine, as well as a constant stream of nurses inquiring about my level of comfort; they all pitied me I’m sure- from the beginning, they would tear up at my side, as I looked in a mirror; or they would rub my hair during the bag treatments in the burn unit; one of them even started calling me her surrogate daughter after the first few weeks I was there. They were good to me during a time when nothing in the universe made sense; and I was essentially on a different planet during that time due to my psychological state in addition to the constant pain drugs my physical recovery required.
It wasn’t until my physical recovery from the traumas relating to my marriage were nearly “complete”, that I was able to begin to deal with the psychological effects of the life – and near death – I had survived, was continuing – to survive through.
The paranoia was the first experience that I had ever personally had with severePTSD; and its first appearances, in combination with the waning effects of a year of non-stop narcotics – eventually began to play tricks on my fearful mind – in a subtle way at first. I would hear voices on the back stairs of my apartment (that weren’t real) and have other full-blown audible hallucinationsduring my first 6 months home from the hospital.
Before long, I was certainthat my ex-husband (who had evaded capture and was on the run from police for cutting my throat) and his posse were following me. It didn’t make sense of course, as he was hardly the type of creature to be capable of stealth maneuvers, nor was the idea of his stalking me in his best interests after an attempt on my life. In retrospect, it’s quite obvious to me: that if he had taken to the idea of finding me and coming after me again, he surely wouldn’t have been lurking around in the shadows when he did; he’d have finished the job he had failed at before, without a second thought. He was never very standoffish about anything, especially something he was passionate about. Despite the “inner-boxing match” that raged in my psyche over this fact, at the time, I always found a way to convince myself that I wasn’t safe, and neither was anyone who was around me.
It’s peculiar, even in hindsight: the way that my mind worked as the result of being a battered woman; for even the short period of time (in comparison to 30+ years) that I was a full-blown victim of Domestic Terrorism, I was paralyzed with fear and hopelessness.
I had come to grips with what I had accepted as being my fate as the victim. My very livelihood had seemingly been rendered broken and out of luck, I remember feeling those things and perceiving them as reality in my former life. Because of those raw and fresh memories, there hasn’t been a single day since the first day that I cleared my head of the Morphine haze and hospital sounds and went home, that I have allowed to pass me by without being truly awestruck by the reality that I am walking around, breathing, reading, writing and simply being alive and able to do what I want.
As much I as I regret everything about those years of my life in that mental paralysis, without having my throat violently cut by my abusive and psychopathic ex-husband, I’d still be so clueless about so many of the human elements in the world that define who we are at the end of each day; I’d still be in the dark about so many essential and divisive things, and I would have missed the bonds I’ve built with so many people who’ve were pushed into my life as a direct result of my “victimization”.
The EMTs who rode in the ambulance with me, two total strangers to me – men who I’d never seen before in my life, one who was on a ride-along as part of his final week before retirement from the field – somehow becoming a magical, human-esque bandage and acting as tourniquet around my neck and face to cut off the flow of blood pressure before I finally blacked out completely; I remember the older man (who has become like a surrogate Dad in the years since that tragic morning) barking orders at me to “stay awake!” and “Breathe!”. When I came to in the hospital 2 weeks later, that same older EMT was at my bedside in a chair with a fishing and wildlife magazine, reading about the things he was going to do now that he had retired. Jack became one of my staunchest allies, he cried tears of joy when I got to leave the hospital, he has become a stationary fixture in my life since that time. He has introduced me to many (if not most) of the elements that define my current life;Jack is the reason that I was lucky enough to learn the lessons involved with volunteerism in my community and the importance of it (which in turn, has worked out to be the sole purpose that I have been able to hold on to any of my sanity throughout the aftermath of my violent injury).
I’d have nevergotten that gift had I not been victimized during Jack’s last ambulance shift: bleeding my very life out.
These are just some things I think about sometimes when I start to feel sorry for myself or whatever…