In the meantime I tried to keep things business as usual. However it was becoming increasingly clear that I hadn’t the slightest idea what usual was anymore. One night, four days after my surgery, I made plans to have dinner in the city with Jeremy and a couple other friends. An hour before I had to get on the train I started to feel like someone was jabbing my uterus with an icepick. Pleasant. When I begrudgingly told Jer how I was feeling, he responded with a very understanding, “Don’t push yourself!”. Don’t push yourself. I’d heard it so much lately. In part I wanted to listen to it, but another part of me was prepared to do any amount of pushing necessary just to feel like a normal person who does normal things. The flaw in this logic was, of course, these weren't normal circumstances. And worse than that, it was seeming abundantly possible that there wasn't any “normal” to begin with. And for argument's sake lets just say there was a "normal", well, I certainly wasn't going back there. My hormones were free-falling, I was crampy, I was often sad, I’d get weird pains out of nowhere and was entirely indignant about all of the above. I kept thinking : this experience took my baby dreams-- did it also have to sap my energy, my physical comfort, AND my ability to function appropriately in my world??!
So, I decided to trek my stabby uterus to the train anyway. I had to. As I made my way through the Meatpacking District I felt like the first earthling to land on Jupiter. I walked past two bearded guys smoking cigarettes in standard issue hipster uniform, a girl in sky-high heels laughing shrilly, a cute couple walking huddled close together against the chilly February air. I observed each of them distantly like a scientific researcher studying a specimen and not like a fellow member of the human race. Were these creatures happy I wondered? How must it feel to laugh in a way that isn’t met with a corresponding wallop of pain? I mentally slapped myself, shrugged off the jewel-encrusted mantle of self pity, and turned up my music to drown out my thoughts as I trucked my achy self toward the restaurant. The dinner was fine. Nice even. Low lighting and a couple strong cocktails helped. But engaging socially felt a bit like working a muscle that had atrophied. Talking about normal things like iPhone malfunctions and gym anecdotes felt clunky and insincere, while simultaneously wildly comforting. I wondered if I seemed normal from the outside or like some creepily vacant pod person. I made a mental note to ask Jeremy later, but I don’t think I ever did.
I put myself into a cab at the end of the night and felt physically wretched, but blissfully calm about it. Looking back I recognize that day as the start of a big shift for me. I realized I had to let go of this concept that one day things would be as they were. Instead it was up to me to keep putting myself into situations that no longer felt quite familiar...until they were again. This has by no means been simple. When things start to feel better emotionally my body would remind me that they were not and when my body began to heal my emotions would take a turn pulling the old "not so fast". I think this is an aspect of healing from any loss or trauma that no one tells you about : healing is not linear and your body and soul will heal at different rates. This day also got me thinking about seeking to find a balance between taking care of myself and pushing to seek a new normal. It's a frustrating push and pull, but it also might be the ticket forward.