It’s sometimes surprising to me to realize that I’ve been married nine years already. Where the time has gone, I have no idea. One day I was standing in my friend’s garden saying “I do”, and the next, or so it seems, I’m lying on the sofa with my leg in a brace, trying to work out which pain is actual pain and which pain is from the fear of pain.
To explain this last part, I had knee surgery on Tuesday. My kneecap used to dislocate all the time, ever since I was sixteen and fell off a cliff while caving. I didn’t think too much of it because it was just one of those things, but this year it dislocated itself simply by me touching it, and didn’t know how to fix itself. So after what felt like forever on crutches, I found myself sitting in the hospital waiting for my knee surgery, and knowing that my knee problems were about to be over. Eventually, of course.
The funny thing is, while I’ve been anticipating the surgery and imagining life after it, I never really let myself think of the process of how I would get better. Such as how vulnerable I would feel dragging my knee and its knee brace, and very fetching ice bag attachment, around on crutches. The knee brace feels as though it weighs 30lbs and even though it doesn’t actually weigh that (we checked), my swollen leg would argue otherwise. And while I fidget to try and find that one sweet spot where it doesn’t feel as though my kneecap is trying to snap in two, I have to pause and breathe and remind myself that I am in fact injured. I’m a patient with no patience, it would seem.
My husband, bless his soul, has the patience of a saint, I swear, and he has seen me crying, and screaming, and even shaking with fear while swearing up and down that the simple act of moving three inches must have torn my knee because the pain is that awful. He helps me calm down, and doesn’t seem phased in the slightest that his wife is acting like a child who needs help with everything, and is too ashamed sometimes to ask.
It really brings into focus what they mean when they say that marriage is in Sickness and in Health.
Don’t get me wrong. If the roles were reversed I’d be there for him in every way I could, making meals for him (or rather ordering in because I wouldn’t want to wish my cooking on anyone), making him feel better, changing his dressings for him, and helping him into his clothes because the act of balancing and getting dressed are just too complicated when your knee is locked in position by a thirty pound brace. He’s the love of my life and if he had surgery and needed my help, I’d be there for him because I love him. And because I’d want him to be okay. What’s hard is having it the other way round.
Being vulnerable is scary for me. I imagine it’s scary for everyone, but for me it’s a lot to process. I’m not one to ask for help, but I’m the first one I’d want my friends to call if they needed help. In fact I’d be quite cross with them if I found out something happened and they had to struggle through it alone because they were too afraid to call. Which makes me a hypocrite, I know. Yet here’s the truth: asking for help is hard because it means being vulnerable around other people and hoping they don’t say no or break your trust, or make fun of you, or treat you in a mean way that makes you regret asking them. Sadly I’ve been there many times before and have built a bit of a wall up to keep people out. But I’m happy to be there for them. It’s just the other way round that’s tricky.
I’m not one for being able to pick a bible verse out of thin air and quote it like a lot of my friends can. Mostly because I don’t pay attention enough to do that, and because I don’t study the bible the way other people do. I keep meaning to. And then I don’t. So here is google pulling a bible verse for me:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (New King James Version)
Loving someone is a choice, one that we make every single day, and I’m very fortunate that I get to fall in love with my husband every time I look at him. I’m not saying I’m easy to live with, in fact I’m the first one to print the memo about my annoying ADHD and how I’m an anti-social introvert who would happily say hello to a dog but ignore every single person in the room. Or how I’m gullible, or hold grudges (though I think that’s a Scottish thing). I’m the first one to try and push you away before you get too close, because it’s easier than waiting for you to realize that I’m actually quite annoying.
But here I am also acknowledging that though the psychological scars run deep, and I’m not actually as bad as I think I am. I am surrounded by people who are kind and caring, who have each traveled a journey that would leave most people scarred, but who still manage to smile and inspire and encourage those of us still making our way through our own experiences.
And when I’m vulnerable, like right now, and realize that I can’t actually lift my leg even an inch off the sofa lest my husband helps me, rather than be scared (which would normally be the default) I trust my husband to help me, and I trust the power of my prayer warriors who have me in their hearts. Just as I have them in mine. Everything is different. Because I’m also different.
I consider myself very lucky. Not least because the surgeon himself said that I have no damage to my bones, or my meniscus, and the only damage was a very loose kneecap which he had to thoroughly tighten. There are four incision points that, well, look gross but seem small enough to not leave any lasting scars. My whole leg is swollen and my knee brace sometimes feels more like a medieval corset-inspired torture device than something that’s actually meant to help me. But every day the pain is a little less, and every day I am one day closer to being able to walk under my own steam. That’s a lot to be thankful for.
Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?
Psalm 56: 3-4 (New King James Version)