It had been a very long time since I realized just how stressful the world outside my front door is until I was enveloped in the silken comforts of a love and recovery cocoon last week and then unceremoniously dumped out of it this week.
I returned to work at the office Monday morning. I hadn't driven even a few blocks for 9 days. I'd barely left my house or donned anything besides a clean pair of pajama pants in that time. While I did work from home every single day last week, that required me to roll out of bed whenever and take 10 steps to my computer to press a few keys and BAM! I was remotely connected to my desktop at work. Stress is minimal when wrestling work demons to the dust in sweat pants and a Life Is Good t-shirt.
So, just the idea of having to drive into work - a 25-minute commute mostly on the highway, never mind the dread of the caring stares and inquiries regarding my well-being I faced when I got there - set off a fitful, sleepless night Sunday night during which the bedclothes ended up puddled in a heap on the floor at the foot.
I drove in - taking surface streets only - on Monday and, when I pulled into the parking lot at work, found myself in tears.
I love my job. I wasn't sorry to be there. But the drive alone had taken its emotional toll. I would have a repeat experience in reverse going home that afternoon.
All week I've had moments of awareness of just how vulnerable we are when we step outside our front doors. Just attempting to cross the street as I also tried to avoid icy patches was frightening. Navigating through traffic with any number of distracted drivers was nerve-wracking.
The push-pull of the common place every day can feel like an assault to one's senses if we've been protected from it for any length of time. I didn't want to stand too close to anyone. Not because I don't enjoy my co-workers but because it's too easy for other people to forget to mind their carefree elbows, hands, scratchy woolen sleeves when coming in for a hug. The stitches are out but my face is sensitive to the touch and it alternately aches or feels pin-and-needle-y just on its own.
I finally totally understand - on a visceral level - my mother's desire for armor during her treatment for breast cancer.
I've also decided it is much easier to go out among strangers - people who might stare but won't ask questions - than it is to meet co-workers in hallways, who greet me with sympathetic smiles and looks of concern all the while attempting to scope out my injury. With my permission, they announced to all staff that I'd had an accident during which I'd cut my face and they weren't to ask questions upon my return.
None of them have. But now it feels as though my face is an elephant in the room. Everyone is wondering and I'm not talking. It takes too much of my precious little energy to tell the story once never mind multiple times. If I were braver, I'd point them all to the blog and say, "There. Go. Read." But I'm not that brave...no matter what the GBE2 writers have conjured up for me in the bravery department this week.
While the wound is healing very nicely - I'm extraordinarily lucky - there are still some emotional pieces that are mending at a slower pace. For instance, I've discovered I am running low on the ability to cope with little stressors like...technology malfunctions. I know that will go away as I start to feel stronger. I just don't feel particularly strong right now. And that's difficult for other people to remember when there isn't physical evidence to remind them.
On the upside, tomorrow is Friday. I'm attending an all-day workshop with a few other women from my work and then it'll be an evening out with Acr0nym, a sleep over with the much missed Noodle (I haven't seen him all week), and time to relax and heal.
I'll be glad to be myself again. I hope that's soon.