This Feeling

You see, the concise version of my story is that I had an accident. I hurt my ankle and this injury precipitated CRPS. I am now I am disabled.

Right.

But what is (sometimes intensionally) left out of the story is that I used to be a regular normal person in society. I was definitely more active than today’s norm, but normal in most ways. And then I had my accident.

My life as I knew it ended.

I lost my ability to work. You don’t realize how much of your*self* is tied to your ability to work. Or at least I didn’t. I took it for granted that I would always be able to sustain myself. I didn’t know that if, for some freak reason, I wasn’t able to sustain myself, I would lose every bit of dignity and self respect. I didn’t know how much of my self-value was tied to my income. I took it for granted that I would always be able to find work. I took it for granted that I would always be able to take care of myself. I didn’t know how much of my personal security was so closely tied to my financial security.

And then I fell. And when I fell, I fell hard. Not just literally to the concrete ground, but figuratively I continued to fall for three years, five days.

You never really know what you have until it’s gone.

At the time of my accident, I my credit score was over 800. I had tens of thousands of dollars of available credit. And sure, I had a couple credit cards that had balances, but not close to their limits. The months ticked by, I kept paying my bills, despite having no income. I kept thinking that I was going to get better. This situation was simply not in my purview as a possibility.

Obviously, my savings ran out, and I moved in with my parents. And I’ve been borrowing money from them ever since.

Ironically, the year prior to my accident, I left New York to help my parents after their roof collapsed. They had to move out of their house for about two months while all of the floors were replaced. It took nearly six months to get them settled again. *This* is how I see myself. I am the helper, not the helped. Or I used to be until I became completely dependent like a child. 

You don’t truly know humiliation until you’ve known the humiliation of being a middle-aged woman having to ask your father to buy tampons for you. Not just the humiliation of asking him for money for tampons, but the humiliation of not being able to drive to the store for your own fucking tampons compounded by the humiliation of not having the money to buy your own fucking tampons compounded by the humiliation of having to ask your dad. Take a second. Think about it. It’s pretty bad.

I never thought I was worthless before, but that moment hit me in the face with my worthlessness. And I have been suffocating, fighting to free myself from worthlessness ever since. The fight became more futile, and the feeling solidified, as each person (who once said they loved me) left my life…

And what happened to those credit cards? Well, one worked out a payment plan with me and spread it out over many years. One said, “pay what you can every couple of months and then settle with us later.” One decided to sue me.

Why am I telling you this?

Because last week, I received my “award” letter informing me of my monthly social security disability payments. It also calculated the amount of “back pay” owed to me. Social security disability is granted 5 months after a person becomes disabled, so my monthly payments are retroactive to December, 2014. The letter also detailed my Medicare coverage. That’s right, I now have health insurance. My worthlessness was exorcised via a long, deep, guttural groan followed by shoulder shaking sobs.

This was the first time in three years that I truly believed that I am going to be alright: I am going to be able to pay off my debts and have some left over to begin rebuilding my nest egg.

And let’s be clear here (I feel I should clarify). The amount of money is significant, for sure. But, it is not a huge amount. After lawyer fees, the payment for the past two and a half years will be just about half of what I earned in 2013, and the monthly payments are just about a quarter of what I would be earning, if I could work. It won’t quite afford me the luxury of moving out of my parents’ house, but it will allow me to begin repaying them. I can now buy my own tampons online.  

I am not happy, but I am so fucking relieved. My leg is unbearable; CRPS still governs my life, but God dammit. I’ve been having me a real hard time. And it feels so nice to know I’m going to be alright.

“This Feeling” ~ Alabama Shakes

I just kept hoping, I just kept hoping
The way would become clear
I spent all this time tryna play nice and
Fight my way here

See, I’ve been having me a real hard time
But it feels so nice to know I’m gonna be alright

So I just kept dreaming, yeah, I just kept dreaming
It wasn’t very hard
I spent all this time tryna figure out why
Nobody’s on my side

See, I’ve been having me a real good time
And it feels so nice to know I’m gonna be alright

So please don’t take my feelings
I have found at last
So please don’t take my feelings
I have found at last
Yeah, if I wanted to… I’d be alright

So I just kept going, I just kept going
And hoping I’m growing near
Well this good and fine, I spent all this time
Tryna find my way here

And I’ve been having me a real fun time
And it feels so nice to know I’m gonna be alright

Please don’t take this feeling
I have found at last
Please don’t take my feeling
I have found at last
If I wanted to, I’d be alright
Yeah, if I wanted to, I’d be alright

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