Happy Tigger Season (spring)! Here’s a blog post I drafted waaaay back in October 2017, rewrote in November and just rediscovered…because apparently when the Muse decides that it’s time, She sends pink-haired pixies named Allison Wonderlass to whupp my ass with her glitterific wand, her kitty-cat ears, and a challenge to her students do the things that terrify us the most. Enjoy.
I am about to revolutionize the way I do things.
You know what they say about the definition of insanity, right? Well, I’m about to do something I haven’t done in nearly twenty years.
~I’m going to open the doors.
~I’m going to raise the portcullis and lower the drawbridge across the moat.
~I’m going to recall the archers and draw back the ravening cacklers who lurk on the ramparts, awaiting the opportunity to upend cauldrons of pitch or drop frying pans down onto the heads of anyone who happens to make it past the two-headed, acid-spewing moat-monster.
~I should probably feed the Noxious One (yes, the beastie has a name—they all have names) before calling the archers and hags in to tea, because I’m going to invite you in for a cuppa with us, and I don’t want to see your ass inadvertently liquefied.
I used to have a blog. Back in…oh…2003 or so, I started one about my discovery that—no, I hadn’t spontaneously gone insane—I had been left with permanent brain damage after being hit by a drunk driver in 2000. Reading other people’s blogs had helped me understand what was happening and how to live with it, so I had wanted to return the favor.
And I did.
I documented the initial journey from the wreck, through the initial WTF and learning-curve stages, into my fledgling flights amongst the silver-lining clouds with my new butterfly wings. People loved that story. I had been told I would never be a dancer again. I gave the middle finger to that idea, saying, “Watch me.” I then proceeded to hop-skip over the state-wide dance scene, took two prancing footsteps across the national board, and unexpectedly crash-landed on the international scene—and people really loved that story!
But a lot of people didn’t want to read the series.
They wanted to stay wrapped in the feel-good-rah-rah ending that is Book I. They wanted that story to be a one-off, and to write me into the glitterific sunset, galloping on my unicorn toward the eternal stage of shimmy dreams.
Yeah, wouldn’t that have been nice.
But the truth is, I have no inspirational overcomer's ending to offer you. Dain Bramage didn’t end. I just live with it. There is no clear Dark Moment, Climactic Battle and Satisfactory Resolution. There's just the Poster Child of Face-Splatting every time I create something amazing. It's actually rather anticlimactic.
That grand Hollywood triumphal tale everybody was sooooo excited and inspired by a decade ago? Almost killed me off.
And when I needed to talk about it, I was met with things like, “You’re still going on about that stuff?” and “I thought you recovered from all that,” and “She’s just milking it for more attention.”
Riiiiiigh. Because that’s all my scrambled brains were—a vehicle to getting noticed.
From time to time, people ask me in depth questions about my brain issues. Usually it’s when they’ve suffered an injury themselves or when they’re trying to figure out how best to support a loved one. There are other Biggies people ask me about sometimes, like why I started taking martial arts or what my childhood was like or the myriad ways in which dance has healed me. If I’m inspired to unseal the fallout shelters of those answers, it invariably leads to one question:
"Why AREN'T you writing about all this stuff?"
I don't talk about my pet world issues very often in public and definitely not online. The amount of time I spend talking about my injuries and conditions (in spite of seeming like it’s alllllll the bloody time) is actually quite rare compared to often it affects me all day, every day, day after day. I occasionally hedge around solutions to the traumas and dramas of my life, but in order to reeeeeally get in there about those, I'd have to open up and write (or dance or vlog) about the issues themselves.
And I don't.
I'm not talking about writing fiction. I mean directly. Bluntly. On my blog. In articles. On a live video or a podcast. In a mini dance film. And of course, "When are you gonna write a book about that?"
I have. Multiple. And those incarnations will never see the light of day. My (eternal failure to) blog? Last year I suffered one of the greatest devastations my brain injury has produced. I had to let go of another long-time dream and it crushed me. So what happened?
Portcullis. Archers. Moat. 'Gators.
All that remained on this blog were a few post-vaporization fumes and the chirping of crickets.
The very last thing I was willing to do was breathe a word about it over here, but that was one of the primary reasons for its infernal, bloody inception: To share with the world what it's like to live with this condition, as well as the others that plague, uplift, and save my arse.
But finding the right angle of approach for this hefty stuff has been like trying to learn how to double-dutch.
Every time I draft anything, I wind up feeling like a big, fat whiner or a rabid froth-mouth. I'm sure humor is part of the answer, but some of this stuff...we're gonna devolve into the bowels of Hades eventually, and skeletons of this nature deserve the solemnity and honor they've earned.
So the return-fire query always rears its head. "Why SHOULD I write about this stuff anywhere other than my journal and the occasional snarky Facebook post?"
Ohhhhh the world needs to and rah-rah not alone and catharsis healing special snowflake voice educate blah-blah and write it for youuuuuu.
Of course all that. (Although I think the world will be just fine without it, just like I bet I could deliver the writing of the century and the world would remain fucked up in all its brilliant wonder.)
Yet these topics are burning a hole of need to be shared in a more intimate way than through fiction. I have known so much generosity and been given so many amazing tools that it feels like a waste to not pay them forward. I was doing that, all those years ago when I first started blogging.
Unfortunately, I had to stop. That particular platform didn’t have the ability to disable comments, and what I was sharing worked too well. I couldn’t keep up with the people writing to me to say how much my words had meant to them, taught them, helped them, made them realize that they weren’t going crazy and they weren’t alone.
It meant everything to me that I had been able to offer that, but I wasn’t getting disability like most of them were. They would send me pages and pages of comments, every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. We dain bramaged souls sometimes run on at the mouth and don’t realize when we should stop. We also repeat ourselves. A lot. Occasionally, we repeat ourselves. A lot. And when we find each other, it can feel like the ugly duckling’s realization that she was a swan all along.
But trying to keep up with everyone who had resonated so strongly with my words collapsed me.
Trying to keep up with my amazing dance journey collapsed me.
Arising on the top of the mountain triumphant and shiny and more whole than I had been before my first car wreck? Hahahahaha… What nobody knew, mostly because I didn’t know it myself until it had—you betcha—collapsed me, was that with every step I tromped up the mountain, my health was undermining me by two. And then three. And then somebody got mad and punched me in the face and I had my first seizure onstage in 2013. By the end of that year, I was having them multiple times every week. Then I had another car wreck which resulted in another head injury in 2014.
I finally skidded to Full Stop with me arse over me ears.
When I applied for disability, they did not make me do the standard 3-5 appeals. In fact, they didn’t make me appeal once. Halfway through the interview, my case worker’s demeanor suddenly changed from that reserved, narrow-eyed, “Mmm-hmm…convince me you’re not a faker, milking the system.”
(We all know what a milker I am, right?)
She set her pen aside, folded her hands across the desk and asked, “Why has it taken you this long to apply?”
Well…you see, Your Honor…I have this scorching need to stand on my own two nasty, calloused dancer-feet and while I was married I had thought that…
Within months, they gave me the greatest relief of my life through devastating news: that my condition truly was as serious and debilitating as it felt to me and those people drowning under the weight of trying to keep my nose above water.
I don’t know how else to write this story.
I keep trying to write it in an uplifting fashion with a light at every tunnel and hope on the horizon. I keep trying to bring in my customary snark, in order to make these things more palatable. I keep scrambling against the cliffside, hoping that someday I’ll have another triumphant ending to drive the story toward, so that anyone would ever want to slog through it.
*shrug* I have triumphs all the time. I had a big one today. I saw how this ADOS jasmine-of-all-trades with too many passions and only one little neuro-divergent body could bottle her gazillion magic potions into One Bloody Focus.
This blog is a piece of that, and if I keep waiting and hesitating and comparing and listening to the bullshit of all those trolls who told me that I'm too much and I'm not enough and I swear too much and nobody wants to have their safety-woobie-nightlight-ba-ba-bubble burst by the reality that I’m not All Better…that I was never All Better…that I might never be All Better…
In the words of my beloved writer-sister Lindsey M. Foulkes:
IT’S MY FUCKING STORY.
This is not an Om-and-Mantra-Spewing lounge atop a cloud, far, far and away from all things negative because if they never pass my lips, if they never cross my mind, if I give them no attention then they shall never harm me blahhhhh.
Yes. I am a practitioner. I don’t call myself a believer, because I’m more interested in the concept of curiosity. I raise the Spock eyebrow in fascination as I conduct yet another scientific experiment into, “Huh, I bet I can get that easy opening on the freeway. Look, I truly AM the parking queen. Yep, I am Synchronicity’s favored faerie godchild and today my name is Neo. ‘Whooooaaahhhh…jiu jitsu. I’m going to learn…jiu jitsu?’”
I WILL figure out how to defy the gravity of my life because I say so. Sure. I’ve heard the theory that my mind is so powerful that if I had the proper tools and alignments, I could zwoop every iota of my brain injury into nonexistence.
I hear this.
I like this.
I play with this.
Often. And I practice with smaller things. At the same time, things are as they are and I’m once again, for the nine-hundred-and-thirty-eighth time, prying Baby out of the bloggidy corner. I throw open the fortress gates, invite my friends into the garden, and hand them two jump ropes. Every time I bound in here, I try to keep up, to keep going, to keep time to the chant.
I know something
But I won’t tell.
Three little monkeys
Going to hell.
One can paint and
One can dance
And one has a hole
Through which she rants!
This is ugly. It is new and icky and scary and it brings up one of THE oldest demons that plague me: that fucking playground in a teensy town near the shores of Lake Superior. But this blog is MY playground and I have a lot of different tools than I did when I was five, so maybe someday I'll quit stalling and trying to convince myself that I have anything to say or any right to say anything where anybody might hear it and actually write the stupid thing. And then you never know, I might actually write again in under a year. Because ya know what happens if I stand out here, hedging in—jumping back…hedging in—jumping back…hedging in…hesitating…
Nothing will happen and that means nothing will change and the definition of insanity is to keep on doing the same thing over and over and over while expecting a different result.
So here I am, jumping in. Again. Joy-joy. All these awesome bloggers, all these badass 20 year old YouTube stars who cut their teeth on crappy lighting and hacked up editing and shite makeup and too much “ummm…” back when they were friggin’ 13…
My dain bramage recovery put me in a functionality coma for a decade-and-a-half while they were doing that. Now I’ve woken up to a very different world than the one I got catapulted out of at 28. It's a steep learning-curve, but that's where I thrive best. The options available to me in this day and age will finally give me my life back.
But not without making a big, fat mess first.
If I’m really lucky, maybe nobody will read these first years of froth-mouthed and self-apology posts. Maybe nobody will watch if I ever tried to do a Facebook Live moment. Knowing my luck, that’d be the moment when everybody would happen to be on and then…ohhhhhh boy. Maybe nobody will care about what I have to say in the scads of YouTube videos that go up every second and I’ll be blessedly lost at sea, embarrassed of myself in virtual privacy even though I published publicly.
I still sit here in the middle of NaNoWriMo, taking a break from gladiators to puke out this rant that’s been brewing for months, a rant that I’ve drafted and deleted multiple times for multiple mediums, but won’t let me be (it will not let me be—let me beeeee!) and that question is still here, eternally poking me in the forehead:
Why in nine raving hells SHOULD I share this stuff publicly?
I dunno. Maybe I’ll do another Facebook poll and ask. Maybe I’ll just sneak this onto my blog and only tell my friends about it.
This way, I have a little control over the when and where and how I take in the responses on my playground. This is imperative for my health, if I want to stand any chance at building something I can sustain for the first time since 2000. That is the crux of the issue and the bane of my existence.
I can still do phenomenal feats of wonder.
I just haven’t been able to figure out how to sustain any of it without collapsing the knees of my health out from under me.
But that’s exactly what I’m going to let you watch me do--figure it out. Holey underwear, zitty face, morning coffee-n-dragon breath, and all. Why?
What the fuck else am I the almighty expert in? Isn’t that what they say to do with this online phenomenon? Establish your credibility as an expert in your field, rawr!
Well, here ya go. I got some sick skillz in being me.