Reflection writing

Reflections Upon a Gift of 42 Years

I turned 43 last week, so today’s blog is devoted to reflecting on 42.

According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, 42 is the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. It is The Answer. Nobody bothered to ask Deep Thought what The Answer was supposed to mean. It’s left to the reader to laugh at the absurdity, assign a personal meaning to The Answer, or something in between.

While I never assigned a personal meaning to The Answer in the series when I initially read it, I did hope that I would have things figured out by the time I turned 42.

Do I have things figured out?

No, not entirely.

I have, however, learned a lot this past year.

  1. I have lived my life by the seat of my pants. I went through elementary school, middle school, and high school with the plan in mind that I would go to college, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. After I did everything but the successfully have children and live happily ever after, things went wrong.

    I ended up married too young to someone who was even more young and unready than I was, experienced miscarriage, and went into freefall after things fell apart. The only constant in my life was my job, and even that didn’t last. I ended up on a train to Chicago to meet my oldest daughter’s father and experience life in the suburb of a very huge city.
  2. I discovered that I was living my life in survivor mode after a guy I followed on Twitter offered me the opportunity to beta test an online academy he was building to help people duplicate the success he had. He’s eccentric, and I respect him for being able to go from being a homeless veteran to being the wealthy owner of several businesses.

    The first week was super-hard, but it helped me realize that I was trapped in the scarcity thinking that had allowed me and my oldest child to survive by luck alone until I met and married my second husband. I was still reacting instead of being proactive, and I was completely unaware that I was doing that.

    I’m in therapy, so I may have eventually realized my flawed thinking in session with my therapist, but the opportunity, being in the right place at the right time to be a part of this, it helped me realize this sooner and start taking steps to change my thinking and my life.
  3. I’ve discovered the previously unknown stories of some members of my family. I developed an interest in researching my family story after a cousin I hadn’t previously known contacted me on 23andMe, and I started digging so I could find out how we were related so we could build our respective family trees correctly.

    Learning about the horrors and hardships my relatives endured made it easier to understand why they made the choices they made, and I was able to forgive them. I am not excusing the choices they made, because quite a few of those choices were terrible, but I can understand why they made them.

    I was even able to cry on behalf of my maternal grandmother, who is probably one of the people I’ve hated the most in my life. She died in 1999, but I still have to live with the impact of the choices she made in my relationships with my mother and her siblings. Her cruelty, lies, and neglect were instrumental in making my mother and her siblings the people they are.

    And like a rock thrown in a still lake, the ripples of what was done to my mother and her siblings affected me and my siblings and our children.
  4. Other than our family’s current income and my own health issues, I really love the life I have. I’m legally blind, in constant pain, and am constantly exhausted, and I love being the person who makes the food we eat, takes care of the children, and keeps the house running. My love of writing and making art doesn’t have a set schedule, so I can do it when I’m not busy with my children or household duties. I have great friends who want me to succeed at whatever makes me happy.

In discovering these things about myself, I have made a lot of progress. I have also started seeing new opportunities presented to me, and I am using those opportunities to help me meet my goals for myself and the goals I share with my husband and/or my children.

Additionally, I have set a goal to update this blog once a week. Once I have been able to do that for a while, I may choose to update it more often. In the meantime, I am also working on the manuscript for a piece of historical fiction based loosely on the short life of a relative. It may never be published, but I think it’s key to helping me heal and provide closure to a lot of things I’ve discovered. I love finding information, and I hope to give people a greater understanding of what life was like for a woman born into poverty in the first half of the twentieth century.


Give Me a Break (No, not like that!)

I lost the central vision in my right eye nearly three years ago. The vision in my left eye has never been great, so I’m legally blind. Other than constant typos and having a hard time reading anything that doesn’t have a zoom or text-to-voice option (which is just as well, because I have yet to encounter one that isn’t awful, grating, and annoying), I’ve adapted reasonably well to having limited eyesight and no depth perception. (Unfortunately, my brain still scrambles voices, so my auditory processing hasn’t improved as a result of my loss of vision.)

My lack of depth perception led to a truly awful accident. I was putting a bag of cat food on top of the refrigerator to keep my orange goofball of a cat from eating it (because if it’s anywhere he can reach it, he will tear into it and eat until he makes himself sick). Unfortunately, I had the brilliant idea to keep the fire extinguisher on top of the refrigerator, too, so that it was close to the stove but not within reach of curious toddlers. Thanks to my lack of depth perception, I couldn’t tell that it was too close to the edge of the refrigerator, and the cat food bag nudged it off. I did my best to get my huge feet out of the way of the falling fire extinguisher, but I didn’t quite make it, and the second toe of my left foot fully felt the impact.

TW: Description of a couple of foot injuries and medical procedures follows. If that sort of thing makes you squeamish, best to stop reading now.

I don’t know what it is about my feet that makes them so sensitive. I can take injuries pretty much anywhere else in my body with no problems (and yes, that includes being in labor with my children), but any sort of foot injury hurts more than any of them. I cried a bit when I was in labor before the epidurals kicked in, but when they inserted the needle to give me anesthetic to sew up my foot after it got cut open by a piece of glass in the yard, I involuntarily screamed. The noises I made are best described as “horse being eaten alive.”

So, yeah. The little kitchen fire extinguisher somehow managed to break the second toe on my left foot, and it hurts even more than it did when I broke my arm when I was 11 years old. I’ve had to alternate ibuprofen and naproxen to keep the pain under control.

The worst part isn’t the break itself, though. Apparently, some fractures get these things called “fracture blisters.” From what I can gather, they’re supposed to help cushion the bone as it heals. I can get behind that. What bothers me is that it does this by pushing serous fluid between the epidermis and the dermis. The pain and pressure from the blisters actually hurts worse than the fracture itself.

Feet have a lot of nerves, which probably explains why I hate having anything on them so much. I’d rather run the risk of cuts and breaks than wear shoes. I can tolerate them for a certain amount of time, but I have to take them off afterward to allow my feet freedom from irritants. (And yes, I avoid public transportation because I know people get upset if one removes one’s shoes in public for any reason, even if your feet are telling you that the rest of your body is suffocating.)

It’s been a week now, and my foot and toe are healing as well as can be expected. The pain makes it hard to exercise, but I work around it as I can. I also rest as I can, which is difficult with a toddler, especially now that she’s having a sleep regression. I’ll do my best though, as always.