I thought I was going to have something profound to say today, but my therapist brought so much profundity to our session on Monday that I don’t think I need to bring it here. He referred to the events that occurred late on the night of March 12, 2010, as an avalanche that still hasn’t quite settled. So I decided to write something rather quotidian instead. A list. A chronology. An accounting of pros and cons.
Four years ago I fell down the stairs.
Plus: I hit my foot instead of my head on the wall at the bottom and therefore I didn’t die.
Minus: I broke my heel bone.
Two weeks later I had surgery.
Plus: I had a great doctor.
Minus: My husband and his family left me alone in unbelievable pain in the hospital for two days.
I went back to my log cabin in Vermont.
Plus: Puppy dogs and pussy cats.
Minus: Stairs into and out of the house, snow, a wood burning stove (with the wood being outside), and total solitude. All on crutches.
Three months later I moved to LA.
Plus: I was finally going to live in the same city as my husband.
Minus: I had to pack up the house and get the dog, the cat, and my luggage to the airport. All on crutches.
Two months later, my doctor gave me the go ahead to start putting weight on my left leg.
Plus: Over five months of using it exclusively, my right leg had gotten really strong.
Minus: Over five months of not using it at all, my left leg had gotten really weak.
I started physical therapy.
Plus: I needed physical therapy.
Minus: My insurance wouldn’t cover it so I had to stop after three weeks.
For the next 13 months, as during the five previous, I was in 24-hour, 7-day a week pain.
Plus: I studied and got a certificate in personal training so that I could figure out how to rebuild my body without PT.
Minus: My husband resented me.
My husband left, citing my accident as one of the ways I was “holding him back.”
Plus: I realized he’d never been truly attached to me and he would have left eventually, so it was good that he did it before we had kids.
Minus: I realized he’d never been truly attached to me.
For a year, he punished me legally, financially, and psychologically. I wished I had died when I fell. I prayed to God that I would die.
Plus: There is no plus.
Minus: It was all minus.
In the middle of that, I decided I had to go to the doctor and get physical therapy even if I had to go into debt to do it.
Plus: I got physical therapy.
Minus: I had to go into debt to do it.
Ten months ago, I started writing for HowlRound. I kept writing for Ms. I got published by XX Factor, Bitch, and The Atlantic. I started writing for Ms. in the Biz.
Plus: I love writing.
Minus: It’s not full-time and doesn’t involve directing or teaching.
I let go of the friends and family that could not deal with my physical and psychological pain. I got hired to direct R&J this summer in Maine. I developed a national reputation as a feminist media critic. I realized that the friends and family who have stuck with me through it all are the best parts of my life. I made a jillion new friends in the LA theater community, in feminist Hollywood, and in activist networks advocating for diversity and gender parity in theater, film, and TV across the country. I got cortisone shots and orthodics.
Plus: These are all plusses.
Minus: There are no minuses.
17 pieces of bone. 7 metal screws. 3 years of non-stop physical pain. 2 years of emotional pain. 1 year of coming back to life. I have a different definition of pain than I did four years ago and a different definition of love and attachment. I may have less money, but I also have less fear and no need to be accepted by anyone but me.
Minus: I have no idea what’s going to happen next.
Plus: What could life possibly bring that I can’t handle?