ME & THE TREE - Old, Beautiful, Broken Creatures
People like to call me broken. Although it’s not a word that I prefer to identify with, I suppose it could be argued that way. On the days when dragging my body around in a vertical position feels like hucking a truck...when all my hinges feel rusted and every step stabs a knife into *insert currently aggravated bodily location here*...do I feel like the broken doll who's been thrown on the trash heap?
But do I think of myself as broken? Ehhh...I don't like to, and yet facts are facts. My meniscus has an L-shaped tear in it. You can see it right there on the MRI. My spine curves in ways it didn't before my big car wreck, and my hips are kitty-wompus. You can see that on the X-rays. You can also see that the bones are slowly, gradually, in excruciatingly minute increments, migrating back home with these neuro-chiropractic treatments and PT. But not quickly enough to keep all the soft tissues in the vicinity from acquiring their own injuries.
I also keep carving failure through swaths of my neuropsychological tests. You can't see that but it's there in the numbers and the reports.
And yet...does that make me broken?
What if it does?
Old is another word that can be taken in a number of different lights. Our culture is downright terrified of that word, yet aging is one of the only things besides Change and Death that is guaranteed if you live on this planet in a body long enough.
Does that mean "old" is as dirty a word as "broken?" How about everybody's favorite "victim"? Oooooh, that one'll get the fur flying. Words are powerful. Yet they're only as powerful as the meaning we assign to them. How about nasty slurs? Do I care when you point a gun in my face? How about when you aim a loaded word at me and fire it off with all the hatred and revulsion I see oozing from your eyes? If you're not actually using a physical weapon on me, can I disarm you in my own heart because sticks and stones? Of course.
*Cheshire Cat grin*
You tell me.
I played with someone today. For a long time. Several hours I spent out there, asking, listening, poking about, looking closer.
This is what He told me.
Don't let your body fool you. We are all intertwined.
Broken doesn’t mean broken.
Except when it does.
Sometimes when things break, dragons are born.
Never discount a single part. Everything from the roots to the tips are equally important. Sometimes for the same reasons. Sometimes not at all.
People who don’t have proper boundaries or respect for you will leave their mark upon you. Sometimes they’re fucking wrong. Sometimes it is NOT funny, creative, playful, cool, “just a joke, hardy-har.”
Sometimes it absolutely is.
It’s up to you whether you agree with them or not. Not agreeing with them doesn't mean you don't have a sense of humor.
Except when it does.
I recently finished Season 3 of Netflix's Lost in Space, so those images are fresh in my mind. I’ve been saying, "Danger, Will Robinson," for untold years because I'm a nerd. But with the reboot of Space Family Robinson, something strange has happened with my internal defense systems, my gut instinct, my warning alarms and inner protectors.
“I want a Robot,“ I thought through that whole show, and then my psyche laughed at me. It has a lot of fun with me around. Finds me quite entertaining about a lot of things.
Toward the end of my binging, I had one of those just-starting-to-wake-up dreams where it was made clear--I already have a Robot, and I always have. Of course, listening to him when he says, "Danger, Izzy Robinson..." That's a different thing altogether. And it's true, occasionally he makes annoying or even detrimental decisions because he doesn't fully get it. There are ways in which he is still new at this protector stuff, ways in which he's still learning. So he snatches me up by the short-hairs and stuffs me into a closet, there to stand at immovable guard even though it would be perfectly safe to let me out.
Okay, it would be safe...enough. I mean, I am still breathing on Planet Earth and this place'll kill you if you don't watch it.
I learned my Robot's name in that dream. All my inner defenses and mechanisms have names. It's funner that way. The 'Bot agreed, and was very excited about the fact that he got to have a name beyond the catchall "Robot." Apparently, his name is Vigilant.
I didn't give him that name. I mean, I did. In the dream, he was doing his 'Botly thing and I lifted my brows at him, impressed and a little unnerved at his constant looming. I couldn't take a step without him making a shadow over me. "Wow," I said. "You are vigilant, I'll give you that."
His head swiveled toward me in that smooth-but-eerie 'Bot fashion. "I am...vigilant," he echoed.
My eyes shifted. I squashed my grin. "You absolutely are," I said, and I think he took that as a confirmation of the way he meant it, not the way I'd said it.
I didn't get it at first. I thought he was just parroting me. He wasn't. Or rather, he was parroting something else I'd said when I first made nice with him--when I first introduced myself to him. But it took me awhile to understand that.
"I...am...vigilant," he repeated.
I nodded with another, "Yup. That's what I said."
At random times, he would inform me of this fact. I'd be working on my spaceship, trying to get it started so I could dislodge it from the ice. He'd be off doing the tasks that were much more hefty and 'Botly, and then suddenly there he would be, shifting his head into the doorway. "I am...vigilant."
"Uhhh, yes. So I see," I would return. I'd flash him the big thumbs-up and the toothy grin. "Thanks."
Or we'd be engaged in some laboriously craptastic project when he'd pipe up out of nowhere. "I am...vigilant."
At last it occurred to me. He wasn't assuring me that he was still diligently focused on being watchful for signs of danger even though we were hard at work. He was informing me that he had a name. By the way he would stand up a little taller with his four arms and his nasty-blasty, clawed hand canons a-perch, and by the light patterns in his face, I began to understand that having a name delighted him. It was his way of placing a claw-print on our Wall of Robinson. Having a name meant he belonged to the family.
(And no, miRobot has not shifted into a humanoid form. Neither have his lights turned white. He's much more like Scarecrow--had the crap kicked out of him, was locked in a cage for way too long, had some parts broken off and had to be put back together again. But he is devotedly, undeniably mine. Of course, I am devotedly, undeniably his, so it all works out.)
Finally, I wrapped my little hand around his big, evil claw and shook it. "Hello, Vigilant. I am Izzy."
His lights beamed. He looks pretty adorable when he beams. Still ferocious, but adorable. "Hello...Izzy. I am...Vigilant."
"Yes," I gushed, seated on the clue-bus at last. "Yes, you are."
After that, we went back to work. I woke up shortly thereafter, a-beam myself.
At this angle, my new tree-friend kind of reminds me of miRobot
Especially given the broken-off upper arm.
It seems that my internal defenses are learning a new way of signaling these days. No surprise, given all the shifts from EMDR. It is also no surprise that this upgraded warning system has chosen a metaphor that is as cool and level-headed as it is ferocious and competent. It also has the capacity to be exceptionally gentle and subtly playful. I need that, rather than the rabid hypervigilance or the numbed out, startle-reactions I've battled all my life.
Thus it was, when I felt it from the inner rings of my new tree-friend--Come up here. There are things you can't see from the ground. Climb up. I want to show you.--I took a quick assessment. Scanning...scanning...assessing. Knee...back...trunk height...thigh strength...handholds...footgear...balance...slope...
There was ole Vigilant, staring down at me, assessment complete, red lights placidly swirling. Nary a peep of, "Danger...Izzy Robinson."
Instead, I felt something very different.
I've got you.
I felt it from the tree. I felt it from my body. I felt it from my inner Vigilant robot.
So I climbed up to continue poking about, and my new friend was right. There were things up there that I couldn't have seen from the ground. Thus did He deliver his final piece of advice unto me:
Assess risk. Plan strategies for unknowns. Accept help when it’s offered. Give it when you can. Ask for it when you need it. And when you’re invited, climb the damn tree.
Thanks, Grampy. Thanks, Vigil.
Happy New Year!
'Tis the Season
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
--UP NEXT: THE FIGHTERS - Gawking at My First Heavy Weapons Tournament
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--OR: if you don't know about my big car wreck, my experience living with Traumatic Brain Injury, or my other adventures in healing from injuries, you can find it all in: