porcupine quills

Aug 29, 2013

After a long week of repeatedly feeling irritated, grumptastic, and lashing out at people, I have decided a few things. I am a giant ball of crabbiness. I am not morbidly depressed, I am not even a little depressed – no, I am up to my eyeballs in AAAARRRRGGGHHHH. I need Jessica’s porcupine to illustrate this post. Maybe I should order a hundred of them and hand them out to all my loved ones who are getting poked with my quills.

This morning as my dear sweetie listened to me apologize yet again for my grumpiness, he gave me his cute little smile, a kiss on my nose, and these words of wisdom.

“Trace, it is okay. You cannot do what you want to do. You cannot do what you feel you need to be doing to run this home and mother our children. You are in pain and it is wearing you down. It is okay. I love you. Our children love you. God loves you. I think you are doing great. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to have a long list of things to do and not be able to do them because your foot hurts too badly. I don’t see how you have kept your chin up for so long. You have been in pain for a long, long time and it is okay if you are grumpy.”

Pretty darn sweet, eh? Also pretty undeserved because really I am one prickly pear lately. But his words have been swirling around in my head today, replaying, being torn apart and put back together, and I have realized a few things.

I have been in significant amounts of pain since mid-April 2011. We are almost at 2 1/2 years of pain. There is one small window from about December 2011 – February 2012 where I was feeling great. The breast lump pain was finally gone and the hip pain hadn’t started. I took up running and early morning strength training. I had a fairly clean house and a fairly good system for keeping it that way. I felt on top of things. And then my hip was injured and it has all been downhill since then.

Sure, I can beat myself up (and believe me, I have been giving myself some good undercuts to the chin) every time I feel irritated with one of my precious children or impatiently respond to them. But this afternoon, I am trying to give myself some love. I am trying to let my logical mind convince my guilt-ridden heart that I am dealing with a lot and I should give myself a break.

I can’t umph my way through this. The pain is too much. I can’t stay on my foot for very long and when it is done for the day, I have to stay completely off it till it is rested. I can’t heal it and I can’t overcome it. I have to live with it. I have to modify my life to cater to my body’s needs. And that is hard. On the days my hip is flared up, I can’t walk hardly at all. It is almost too much to just go to the bathroom. But people don’t see that part of it. They only see me when I am up. When I am dressed. When the pain is manageable. So, it seems I am doing okay. And some days I am okay, not great, but okay. But often, I am not okay. Often I am covered in ice packs and moaning in bed. Often I cannot think straight enough to find the right words (Kat says she always knows when I am hurting a lot because I cannot utilize my normal vocabulary). Often I cannot sleep because my shoulder or elbow or ribs are dislocated. Often I want to scream.

I am an exuberant, joyful person and I have a huge smile on my face most of the time, but truth be told, it is getting harder and harder for that smile to stay there. It doesn’t leap to my face like it used to – drawing the world in and radiating my love. There is a reticence that I don’t think I have ever experienced before. I look at the wrinkles etched deep into my face and I think, “those are from the last 18 months of pain” – for I have aged over the course of this injury. I no longer look like a young lass. I have a plethora of white hairs. I am worn out. I feel beaten down. It is hard to stay positive when I am continually wincing. How did my grandmother do it? How did she keep smiling and loving and laughing when she was in pain?

I have decided to reimmerse myself in my core books of scripture and my relationship with God. I need to spend time every day drinking in truth and hope and love from my Savior. I need to spend more time listening to Him and learning from Him. So, on tap for me is morning scripture study and a dedicated prayer session. All alone. Well, not all alone, just me and God talking together without the distractions of people.

Another decision is to focus on really giving my children my heart during our learning time and not letting myself be distracted by my to-do list. As we are getting ready to start our fall schedule in a few days, I have been pondering how I want our days to flow. A big part of the flowing is my fully-present heart and the softness in my eyes and the gentle excitement in my voice and the magic of a mom and child learning together.

Pain is wearing me down, but it hasn’t beat me. I still have trust. I still have hope. I still have love…all mushed together with some grumpiness…but that is okay, I am going to try to increase the love I am sending out, the gratitude I let my thoughts marinate in, and the words of truth I take in from The Lord. Maybe then the grumpiness will dissipate?

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  1. Oh Tracy, You’ve been on my mind a lot lately. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been thinking of you how you are feeling. You are right, you certainly have a gift at being able to put on your best self that it is easy to assume you’re doing better than you really are. I’m so sorry. I just love, love, love you and so admire your courage in adversity.

    I’ve started homeschooling my children last week. I’d say it’s going ok so far. Hannah has been a little sad each day to not be going to “school” with all of her friends. My heart strings have been tugged her way a little each day. I worry that I can provide, academically, what they need, but have no question that I can provide what they need spiritually and physically far better than the school system can. Is that enough? I’m trying hard not to have my bar too high this year and to enjoy being together more than anything. There have been a few tears from us all from time to time, I won’t lie.

    Thank you for encouraging this way of living. You inspire, make no mistake, you inspire.

    • tracy


      {{{{{Hugs}}}}} to you. You have been guided to this path and God will not leave you alone. He is with you, I know it. Love and teach and laugh and love some more. I’m sure this will be a big adjustment for Hannah, but it will work out. She will keep some of her old friends and make new friends in this new world of homeschooling.

      You are one smart cookie…take that in and believe it. It is true. You have, can, and will provide the academics. I know it. Absolutely know it.

      Reread my how to begin homeschooling post. Spend time with God every day. And remember who you are, who they are, and why you are doing this.

      Love you to the moon and back.

      p.s. tears are normal…

  2. Tracy, you are in my prayers today. My heart pours out for you!

    • tracy

      Sally, oooooh, I love you. Thank you for the prayers. I need them.

  3. Debbie

    My dear, dear friend; what an amazing man! He is very wise, please listen to him. Also know that you are loved; smile or no smile, you have been a blessing in our lives! I hope you know that sometimes the answers to prayers aren’t what we want, but it is enough. I wanted new carpet, I was prompted to ask for a friend’s old carpet, it was nicer than what I had. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was enough.

    • tracy

      Thank you Debbie. I am so, so blessed to have this patient, non-reactionary man as my companion.

  4. Sue

    Dear Tracy…I too know how it is to put a mask on so people think everything is great and I get so tired of them asking if everything is ok. I don’t want to talk about it because then it is much harder to smile. You are loved by many and we’ll keep praying for you.

    • tracy

      I don’t even know what to say to people anymore. The truth is so discouraging and I don’t want to talk about it all the time. People want to be told I am better or improving or something positive and yet, there is a lot of not so positive stuff with this condition. I hate being pitied. I hate being poo-pooed. I hate being babied. I hate people thinking I am broken or weak or falling apart. I really, really appreciate compassion and laughter and big hugs and prayers and bowls of ice cream.