I have just finished filling out the soul-crushing paperwork for disability. I started the process the end of August and am now into the next phase and finally finished filling out 2 different sets of paperwork that were about 8 pages each at 1:30 last Friday morning. I walked out, barefoot, down my long driveway and across the road and put it in the box with the flag up in the moonlight. It felt appropriate. I was filled with moonlight madness, anxiety, and a flood of tears as I finished answering the questions that left me feeling about half an inch high.
The one I had trouble with was the one that required long detailed answers about aspects of my days and life that they absolutely have to have to determine that I am indeed eligible for disability, and I understand that. What I was not prepared for were the questions that had to do with competency. Can you brush your teeth? Can you tie your shoes? Well yes, I can do both of those and I can take care of myself on all of the basic levels but what shocked me were all the things that I cannot do, or do as one is expected to to be a functioning member of society. I knew I was odd. I know I am disabled in ways that don’t allow me to work outside the home, and frankly, I cannot sustain work, not in a way I can count on, inside the home. By the time I got through with the paperwork I was flattened, depressed, and frankly I felt useless and somewhat imbecilic.
But, you say, you have had nearly 2 million visits to this blog (I was shocked to see over a million here in the last couple of days, and over 700,000 at the original location for Maitri’s Heart, www.maitrisheart.blogspot.com.) Ah, yes, but it has been 7 years, and while I have worked hard to open my heart and my life, to share honestly and openly with others, no matter how difficult it was for me, because I truly believed I could help others if I was honest about my life, my struggles, my joys, my deep fears, and glorious loves, and yes, I am a very intelligent woman, but I am also all of the things I have written about these 7 years — Bi polar, agoraphobic, with PTSD, a serious anxiety disorder, clinical depression that really waves it’s banners high when the rest kicks their heels up, yes, I am an intelligent woman, but I am crippled in ways that you do not see. And yet…
The very things that cripple my everyday life allow me intuitive highs and a powerful depth that pierces through the heart of things in a way others dare not tread. And in many ways they are wise. Some of the deepest, most powerful, most responded to posts I have written have put me to bed for a few days… but I wouldn’t change a thing. The Black Box (The brain.) is something so mysterious the greatest scientists will not unravel all of it’s mysteries in this lifetime. Mentally I can, at times, leap tall buildings with a single bound, and on the other side of that I am hiding under a pile of quilts clinging to my pugs.
Some people would rather not be around me.
Some people are afraid of me.
Some people are fascinated by me.
I am hanging on by my fingernails, flying by the seat of my pants … but … somehow or another … it is alright.
I can say this because I am 60 years old with 40+ years of therapy under my belt.
I can say this because I am on 5 medications that help me get through each day.
I can tell you that I love, I love so much, and so big, and I am blessed to have many people who love me, but if you approach me and try to get close to me when I am not ready for it, I will run for my life. I want to give so much but I have to do it on my own lopsided, lumpy, bumpy, inside out and upside down terms. I get so afraid. Too many people took to much when I was too little, too many people expected too much and were angry at me all the time for not being the perfect child as I grew. I upset and disappointed people as an adult because I couldn’t be what they wanted me to be, and finally I left the world and found a little place where I could live with animals and garden and read and write as I am able, sometimes soaring, sometimes laying words out in a line and nailing them down so I don’t lose them.
“Write down everything you do from the time you get up in the morning until the time you go to bed.”
Almost everything I wrote had to do with taking care of animals.
As I wrote it I felt the floor shift at an odd angle and I didn’t know how to describe that on the form but I was sliding off the edge of the world.
Later they asked if I had hobbies and I didn’t know what to put. You see I take everything far too seriously to consider any of the things I do hobbies, but I tried to see it like I thought they wanted me to.
I knit, I crochet, I garden.
Such a vast oversimplification.
There was no question to which I could respond and tell them who I really am. They don’t want to know that I love so big it makes a full moon look small and that I can look at you and see so much, know too much, ache to help you. There was no place where I could explain how I held a little pug whom I had shared my life with and loved with my whole being, who was my soul mate, and in the vet’s office I sang with my heart wide open, my lips close to his face, holding him to me like my own baby, I sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” as he crossed and everyone in the office was crying but I held him until he turned cold, I touched his soft tongue hanging out of his mouth, I rubbed my face against his, and I cried so hard I thought I would not survive, but I have already adopted another little senior because this is what I do, I love the ones that others don’t want and they are more precious to me than diamonds or gold. I devote my life to these babies and I will do so until I am not able to do it any more. It is my privilege, and I know them and they know me in a way no other human ever has.
There is no place on that form to write something like that, but I believe that it matters.
I am so much more than the answers to those questions but they don’t want to hear that, it doesn’t matter to them.
In the end it made me feel like my life didn’t matter, but I know that it does. I have birthed 3 beautiful children and my daughters have birthed their children and I am part of a human legacy that is so much bigger than my own life and that is a miracle. I am blessed, so deeply and richly blessed, but there was not one space on that form where I could write that in.
I was actually shocked at how small and broken I felt when I finished that form but I know that I am so much more than the answers to those questions. I have been trying to come to terms with that for the last week, but I have to be satisfied with knowing, deep in my heart, that I am more than I could tell them. I did my best, and I will try to find my way into this new phase of my life without shame. I feel small and shy just now so I will stop here. But I am more. I know that I am.