Tuesday, October 2, 2018

My Crippleversary Party: How to Celebrate a Tragedy

As many of you know, I just "celebrated" my 10 year Crippleversary. How does you celebrate a tragedy? However you bloody well want to, I say! You  survived it so you get to make of it what you will. This post is about what I wanted to make of mine.

First, I wrote a post about all the things I've accomplished since the day I thought my life was over. That in itself was extremely therapeutic, and readers have told me it was therapeutic for them too. It was meant to remind all of us that life does not end with disability.

And, then, on the actual day of my Crippleversary, we had a kind of a party in two parts. I opened presents and "presents," the "presents" being all my fine jewelry which Beau had had repaired, sized, and cleaned for me. Then, in the evening, we got all dressed up and went for a fancy dinner.

Dress: Cherry Velvet; Shoes: Wonders; Diamond earrings: bespoke from Era Design; Ruby ring, ruby pendant, gold chain, and brooch: vintage.
Writing my last post helped me understand what people mean when they tell me I'm tough and strong. They say it often, but I never believe them because I don't feel strong. Most of the time, I feel like I'm just barely hanging on, ready to break at any minute, physically and emotionally. But I don't break, and I guess that's what people mean when they say I'm strong. 

Not only do I not break, I also don't stop fighting: fighting for my rights, fighting for justice, fighting to raise awareness, fighting for children's safety, and fighting for my own health. I was able to see my fighting spirit as I wrote my post about all that I've achieved since disability struck me down.

I was also able to see that I fight hard to find beauty, joy, comfort, and peace in a life that hasn't afforded me much of any of those things. I suppose it takes a certain strength to be able to find them at all. So that's an accomplishment too, or a series of accomplishments, each time I succeed, each time I try.

I don't give up, not because I don't want to, but because I don't know how. I don't know what giving up would look like. I don't know what I'd do differently.

When I began writing my first Cripplevesary post, I already knew that Beau has been hugely important in helping me achieve all the things I've achieved, but writing it helped me see that even more. Everything changed when I met him. He helped me become stronger by giving me the safe space - his love - in which to be softer and weaker.

Beau is the bestest person I've ever met and I am  honoured that he chose me as his beloved. Being worthy of his love, or trying to be anyway, is an accomplishment too.

When Beau and I discussed how to celebrate my 10th Crippleversary, I, of course, wanted to design a new piece of jewelry - perhaps a diamond solitaire necklace. If your income is okay, and you're careful with money, as I am, you can afford to indulge in such things from time to time. 

But, as many of you know, I'm in the middle of a legal battle with my insurance company and have had no income in well over a year. Beau has had to help me out, so he's stretched thinner than he should be too. A diamond solitaire was out of the question. 

But repairing, altering, cleaning, and sizing the jewelry I already have was not. We gathered up all my pieces that needed work, and took them to the same, local jeweler who made my diamond earrings when I received my inheritance. I went through it all with the goldsmith, and Beau paid for it, without ever telling me how much it cost. I only know that he promised not to break the bank. (Breaking the bank is simply not how I roll. It makes me too anxious!)

Beau's a brick! He didn't think of all this as frivolous. He wants me to find joy. He knows how much beauty helps me as I fumble through this difficult life, and he thought repairing my jewelry was a fitting celebration of my Crippleversary.

It ended up becoming a bit of a metaphor: I can't fix, polish, or resize my broken down body, but I can fix, polish, and resize my jewelry.

And, gosh darn it, I deserve it!

Onesie: Additionelle
The boys were with their mother on the day of my Crippleversary (they're with us half the time, and with her half the time), but they'd made a card and bought me a present before they left. Using his fancy computer skills, Boy 2 designed the card, which read, "Happy (?) Crippleversary!" Boy 1 signed it, telling me how much he's enjoyed having me in his life. I nearly lost it right there and then.

They got me the perfect present: a professional quality loupe, with a light and everything! It actually has two lights, a regular one and a blue one, but I don't know what the blue one is for. Do you?

Beau got me a really great ...

... stacking jewerly box. I keep my fine and sentimental jewelry in a vintage safe on my floor. It always ends up in a tangled jumble. Since I'm disabled and it's hard for me to use my safe, Beau usually helps me. When I'm getting ready to go out, Beau struggles to find the pieces I want and the ensuing squabbles are legend in our minds. This jewerly box is the solution! So far, it's working wonderfully. No more squabbles.

Beau also individually wrapped all my repaired jewelry ... but with a tad less care.

No matter. His wrapping it really did make it feel like the pieces were brand new. 

Some of them basically were new. Beau bought me this vintage, ruby pendant two years ago to match my vintage, ruby ring, but the bale on it was too small for any of my chains so I've never been able to wear it. Now I can!

And the vintage, gold chain itself? I'd lost it years ago and, just through a happy coincidence, Beau found it just before my Crippleversary. I'd been sure I'd never see it again. That actually worked out pretty well though because Beau bought me an even prettier, 18 karat chain to replace it. Now I have two! Such decadence. 

I felt a bit weird about sizing my rings because I don't like to think about the weight gain that came with disability. Between middle age and disability, I keep growing and I don't like it.

But I bought all these rings for myself, both before and after disability, as rewards for surviving my difficult life, and as markers of important accomplishments

Why on earth should I deprive myself of these rewards just because my body shows its age and suffering? The mere fact that this body is still alive at all is something of a miracle. I should celebrate my body's survival, not dismiss or deprive it because it doesn't look exactly as I'd like it to. 

After a restful day, storing energy for the evening, we got dressed up and we went out for a bowl of molten cheese. Okay, that's not exactly what we did but it's what I remember now. We went out for  a really great, Mexican dinner that included a sort-of taco, cheese fondue that was amazing. 

I wore one of my Cherry Velvet dresses that fit curves so well, I'd feel sorry for a skinny woman trying to wear them. You've seen this one before, styled for winter.

And, check out my arms! Since my terrible pain flare last summer, I've been much more disabled, and I've had to use mobility aids all the time. A walker requires me to use my arms and shoulders constantly. Even when standing, sitting, rolling over, reaching, etc, I need my arms to do the work my back can no longer do. My triceps show it.

I'm often insecure about how big my arms and shoulders have become. But I guess I should be proud. They're a sign that I keep trying, keep moving, even when it's really hard and really painful. I used to get buff at the gym. This is a new kind of buff.

Regardless of my insecurities, I do think this dress is very figure flattering, back...

... and front. The cut is retro so the retro fabric pattern makes sense. 

The sun was setting when we got home, and the colours of my dress so matched the sunset, I felt like the whole scene was stage directed.

Beau's vintage shirt also seemed tailor made for the lighting. It was pretty magical. 

While we're on the subject of things magical, we need to talk about my jewelry choices. I'm not totally sure that rubies are the best match for a salmon dress, but I really don't care.

I wanted to wear them - finally.

So I wore them. Simple as that. Wear what you want, always, not what you think others want. 

I added this whimsical, little, vintage brooch just for fun. I like its enamel creaminess, with just a little bit of sparkle.

Meanwhile, Beau got dressed up too. He even wore his wedding shoes, which he loves.

Isn't he just a tall, cool drink of water?

How on earth did I find a guy who's smart, gentle, kind... and really handsome? 

And that's it, the whole story of how I celebrated my Crippleversary.

How about you? Have you ever celebrated your Crippleversary? Do you think you ever would? You know what I did to celebrate mine. What would you do to celebrate yours?

(I'm sharing this with Not Dead Yet Style, Style Nudge, Tina's Pink Friday, Fashion Should Be FunElegantly Dressed and Stylish, Jeans and a Teacup, and Not Dressed as Lamb.)