I want to throw shit.
WARNING: I usually try to make my blog posts pretty funny, but I’ve been on a Damien Rice kick and also I’m externally processing a lot, and emotionally exhausted. There's a few more swear words in this one because I'm honestly too tired to think of other words and I'm finding something beautiful in the humanity of being pissed off.
By the age of six I had four times the amount of surgeries the average American has in their entire lifetime.
Larry (my left arm, yes it has a name. I’ll explain in another blog post) actually had four fingers at the start of his life, but the extra phalange prevented him from having the ability to grasp so they lobbed it off when I was four. He also curves inward, and had I not had all my surgeries it would have curved so badly it would have looped around…not at all effective for Captain Hook Halloween costumes.
The doctors would break and restructure my bones at my wrist joint and put a metal rod through my arm and cast it to make sure that when it healed, it would heal straight.
Prior to going under, you’re not allowed to eat for at least 24 hours. I’ve always had a love for good food (blame the culinary goddess that is my Mom—developing a fine palette in her little girl), so you can imagine how well this went over at age 6. While my friends at school got to mash preservative and sugar ridden (yet unbelievably delicious) French toast sticks in their faces, I had to sit in the nurse’s office and just drink liquids. My mom would always fast with me and make sure that I never felt alone.
Also a testimony of my mother’s culinary impact on my tastes, I wouldn’t eat hospital food. Now, this was before I had jumped on the health freak train and my diet during my time in the hospital consisted primarily of McDons, purple popsicles and grape pop. I mean, I have vivid memories of throwing lots of it up anyways, so I just wanted it to taste good at least one way. I have a huge extended family and always had lots of visitors, tons from out of town too. I was a very loved child, and always got complimented on how brave/tough I was by them. I mean, I would have preferred it be my birthday, but I’ve always loved to be the center of attention.
I don’t remember much about the surgeries themselves, which is a great testimonial for anesthesia and it’s knocking-out capabilities. I do know that when I would start to come to, they would bring my parents back so that their faces would be the first ones I would see. The doctors knew that I would wake up afraid and in tremendous pain and would need some sort of familiarity. I mean, they had just been sitting in the waiting room for hours while their adorable and sassy child had fingers sliced and bones broken, so I know they were always anxious to see me too.
During these times in the hospital I was always a hot mess. I was scared, confused, missing more limbs than usual, in pain, was throwing up tons, and miserable. I was crabby as hell…but at least my parents had a glimpse into the future of having a pre-teen in through this process.
On more than one occasion the nurses who would be monitoring my pain medicine put it into the IV too quickly which burned and made me feel sick. I may have been little, but as soon as I would see them coming I knew what they were there to do and I would start screaming, thrashing, and ordering them not to do it, because “I hated them.” (I hope they didn’t take that too personally, I also told my Yaya that I hated her too during this time, and we all know that’s not true. I’m obsessed with her.) I would try to rip out my IVs, too. They actually had to put the IV in my head and tape a cup over it so I wouldn't yank it out when I was little. I’ve always had a lot of fight in me.
My mom developed a tactic to help me cope. She would see them coming from down the hall and slowly make her way over to my hospital bed. Before they came in, she’d try to do something to distract me while they were preparing the medicine for injection. I would always inevitably see what was going on, and then she would climb on top of me, straddle me, pin my little body that was trying to thrash around with her knees, hold my face in her hands and repeat with a calm, loving intensity: “Kelsey, look at me. Look at me. I’m here, look at me. Don’t look there. Look at my face. Kelsey, look at me. Look at me. I’m here, look at me. Don’t look there. Look at my face. Kelsey, look at me. Look at me. I’m here, look at me. Don’t look there. Look at my face.”
This visual has been coming to my mind a lot lately and I feel like it’s the perfect one for the season I’m going through, which to put it bluntly, is pretty shitty. Actually, it’s the worst I could ever describe. I don’t like to admit this to most people, because I’m such a fighter and always try to have a great attitude amidst any circumstance, but in reality, I’m just a 22 year old version of my 6 year old self who was in immense pain and confusion.
I’ve had this revelation that my mom isn’t pinning me down this time. Which is actually good, because that would be weird. It’s Jesus.
Internally I feel like screaming I try to justify why this season shouldn’t be happening. But, His knees are holding me down, He’s gripping my face and He’s saying: “Kelsey, look at me. Look at me. I’m here, look at me. Don’t look there. Look at my face. Kelsey, look at me. Look at me. I’m here, look at me. Don’t look there. Look at my face. Kelsey, look at me. Look at me. I’m here, look at me. Don’t look there. Look at my face.”
Being brave for me over the last few months has not been going off to Africa. It hasn’t been stepping out of my comfort zone onto some new adventure. It hasn’t been befriending people I once thought enemies or even giving more of myself in a church or ministry. Yet, its required the most bravery I’ve ever had to exhibit.
Brave is currently waking up, everyday and going through this season. Brave is making the daily decision to not run from difficulty but to stand firm on what I believe. Brave is choosing to continue in the monotony and normalcy of my current life and stare Jesus straight in the face as I do this thing called life. Brave is making the conscious decision to take responsibility for my choices, forgive people for theirs that have caused me pain and move forward trusting that despite current circumstances, God has a huge plan for my life.
What I’ve realized is that the thrashing, yelling and trying to rip out IV reaction both realistically at ages 0-6 and metaphorically now are completely normal. I’d even go as far as to say they’re good.
When you’re brave enough to look at your thrashing around and acknowledge that the majority of your thoughts are ugly, you recognize how filthy you are and how much you need a Savior. Through this season I’ve had countless occasions when I just wanted to throw shit at a wall because I’m so ticked and angry: a cup, a clay statue of a giraffe, a book, and sometimes a person. I haven’t done it, but I’ve wanted to and have decided to take a picture of everything I want to throw instead. Eventually I’ll turn it into a coffee-table book with hilarious depictions of my thoughts at the time and call it “I want to throw this. And shit.” Most Christian books that focus on going through tough seasons talk about how good God is (which I will as well, and do) but they forget to acknowledge how human, normal and healthy it is to be pissed. I already know Lifeway won't sell it. Whatever, haters gonn' hate. I'd rather be real about life and give people something to identify with while being different to what the expectations of a Christian author are than conforming and writing a bunch of mumbo jump hypothetical scenarios with no application whatsoever. That won't change lives. It will be sold in Urban Outfitters, Typo and other slightly off-color book/stationary stores.
I have had to force myself to drop the “brave face” and embrace the reality of immense brokenness, which is the truest sense of bravery I’ve ever discovered. I’ve discovered that at the end of my bravery, Jesus has me pinned down and is saying, “I’m here, thrash away, but I'm here.”