I’ll be 40 in four months. And currently. At 39. I live with my mom. I have a home. A beautiful one. One with a mortgage. An electric bill. A water bill. And I still pay them. On time. In it are all my favorite things. My old fans. And vintage cameras. Rusty things. National Geographics. And my bed. My seven-year old daughter is here with me, too. We sleep in a full size bed together. Even though there is a queen down the hall. And a king at our own home. I like being close to her at night. Her body is so warm. And we hold hands while she falls asleep. Sometimes she even wakes me in the wee hours. Asking for my hand. And I love it. I’m almost 40. My daughter and I live with my mom. And to be brutally honest. I don’t want to leave.
Ironically. It’s been 40 days since Dr. Piper shut my mouth. Day 40 of closure. Closed, y’all. Roughly 22 hours a day. Do me solid. Try to imagine it. Just for a minute. I have 230 more to go. Days, that is. And this damn splint in my mouth can suck it. No pun intended. I kind of suck it all day. Literally. I wake up in the wee hours of the night. Not looking for my daughter’s hand. Sadly. But trying like hell to fight my way out of this thing. I awaken with my jaw working it’s ass off. Widening as much as it can. Trying to snap the rubber bands. Trying to escape. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t work. But clearly my subconscious is fed up, too. Who can blame it.
There’s good news. My TMJ pain is completely gone. Has been since I woke up in the recovery room after my surgery. Dr. Piper, the man with the mustache, was right. He promised me that. Thanks to his genius. He fixed me. Even if I feel broken today. He took a minuscule portion of fat from my tummy. Placed it ever so tenderly. So that one day I can eat Kind bars. And kiss boys. And bite into enormous burgers. Again. I’m a little less hopeful these days about the Kind bars though. A fellow jacked up jaw friend recently posted a celebration on our group page. Now, she says. Three years post-op. She can finally bite into an apple. Three years, people. How awesome for her. Seriously! I don’t even like apples all that much. But I sure as hell want one now. Like stat. But now we’re looking at summer of 2020. And here’s some truth. Kind bars are harder than apples. Just saying.
And damn. Can I just tell you. I was living in a shit ton of pain. For a long time. Just never knew the extreme level of it until it was gone. Of course, there is new pain. Surgical pain. Rehabilitation pain. Mental pain. That’s the worst. The emotional pain. The novelty has worn off. That’s what Marge says. What flippin’ novelty? But I get it. There was novelty. God’s new journey for me. The adventure ahead. The life changing experience to come. The lessons to be learned. That chance to listen. Finally. Listen. But now I’m here. And, y’all. It doesn’t feel much like an adventure anymore. Lessons to be learned. Sure. Life changing experience. Absolutely. But that’s where the buck stops. The freshness expires. Because my life has almost completely changed. And I kinda don’t like it. At all.
I love to connect with people. Strangers. Friends. Family. Anyone. I’m an ask-hole, remember? And I can’t really do that anymore. At least not in the way I’m used to. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve wanted to say something to a stranger. Cheer up a little kid. Connect with the lady in the checkout line. And so, I love when people ask me what happened. Like the guy at the recycling center who exclaimed, “who hit you?” Or most who just politely say, “do mind me asking what happened?” or “my friend had his jaw wired shut after he broke it. Is that what’s going there?” And oh my gosh, it’s the best. And that’s when Marge looks at me. Because we’re always together. That’s when she smiles because she knows it’s my time. Connection is here. And then I get to brag a little about Dr. Piper. Astound them with the procedure itself. And I’m me for a minute. Connecting the shit out of someone. But many other times in public, I feel lost. Even when I’m with my friends. Or family. A part of me. A huge part of me. It’s gone. And I’m grieving. Afraid this experience might take it away forever.
Y’all. I’m not seeking pity here. Or attention. Or “I’m sorry.” Save them. For people who are facing battles far worse than a temporary closure. What I am seeking is truth. And vulnerability. And transparency. And while my positivism shines through most days. Other days, it’s just a show. Some are full of sadness. With a smile on my face. Some with dreadful loneliness. Even though I’m surrounded by people. Others are spent wondering what it feels like to deeply connect with someone. Or if I’ll ever connect again. And I need to tell y’all that. Because The Girl Who Listens is doing really good with this recovery thing. But she’s also crying sometimes. And struggling. And hurting. In emotional pain some days. Just like you. Or the you yesterday. Or last week. Or the you last month. Last year even. Or maybe tomorrow. Though I hope not. It’s not everyday, right? Or all the time. But it comes. And goes. These trials. These tough times. And if there’s any lesson I’ve learned in these last 40 days. If there’s any message I’ve heard more. It’s that I’m tired of hiding the truth. And I think you might be, too. If you’re not. Do me another solid. Marinate on that for a while.
I’m going to be 40 in four months. Have I mentioned that? My friends have been hearing about it since I was at least 38. Maybe 37. They’re over it. I am excited for 40. Maybe not quite as excited as I once was. But ready or not. Four months. It’ll be here. With a splint in my mouth. And braces on my teeth. Maybe not for 22 hours a day. But for a good portion of it still. I recently revisited a post I made on social media last year. On the night of my 39th birthday. After an awesome time out with my tribe. Making connections. And laughing. Smiling. Celebrating. For real. No facades. Before this whole journey was even made known to me. By God.
Wow! I’m overwhelmed with the love poured down on me today. Truly the best birthday of my life! The smile on my face does not come close to expressing the gratitude and joy in my heart. I love being 39! I’ve spent most of my 30s living in mediocrity: in faith, at home, in love, in motherhood, at work, in relationships, in health. I’ve made brave and bold decisions to no longer accept this mediocrity; some have come with extreme joy and others, immense pain. The result: I’ve learned to develop satisfying relationships, I’ve eliminated conflict, I’ve come clean with my health concerns and taken steps to live well, I’ve pressed in to my journey with Jesus, and I’ve become proud of the mother God intended me to be. Y’all! The Bible tells us that our lives “are like the morning fog – it’s here a little while and then it’s gone.” James 4:14 I’m listening to His word. In this last year of my 30s, I have no room for anything but excellence! Watch out world as I cruise into my 40s. I’m just getting started!
Man was I smart that night! Maybe it was the Bourbon talking. Or the high from having such loved poured down on me. Or the fact that my tribe put 29 on the cake instead of 39. Because they are awesome like that. And while I had no idea what this last year of my 30s would look like. Or what excellence over mediocrity would really mean. My gut instinct told me it would be an experience of a lifetime. And God sure showed up. He knew the journey that lay before me. He knew the challenges ahead. He prepared my heart. And my mind. And my body. And He did all this for a reason. A really damn good one. I’m still trying to figure out just what that is. The reason. But my only job right now is to listen. To get through each day. To accept the trials that come along with this journey. To remember that mediocrity is stale. And that excellence is possible. Jesus taught us to do hard things. So tears, smiles, loneliness, laughs. Whatever. I can do hard things. I can do the next 230 days.
Oh, and by the way. I’m almost 40. Just in case you missed that. And I live with my mom. Along with my seven-year old girl. And you know what that makes me. Not a single parent. For like a minute or two. And so while I’m still in the throws of this winning at recovery thing. I think I’ll stick around a bit. Stay in the full sized bed with my little love. Accept the help that Marge so graciously gives. And listen for when it’s time to go home.