Tag Archives: lessons

The Day I Broke My Face

It has now been about a month since the day my face broke.

For a chronic over-sharer like me, not posting the blow-by-blow of my experience was unfamiliar behavior.  This experience, however, felt intensely personal.  I was scarred by it and not just on my face.

More than a week after our New Year’s Day party, my new three-pot crock pot serving piece sat on the counter waiting for me to find a place to store it.  My disdain for clutter finally overcame my resistance to find non-existent storage for my Christmas gift.  I maneuvered the other entertaining pieces around on top of the China hutch to make room.  I grabbed the crock pot system in my hands, stepped onto the dining room chair and in slow motion went from lifting the crock pots into place to cracking my face on them as they hit the floor.

A leg on the chair had snapped into pieces and sent me flying – hard and heavy crock-pot first, soft and fragile face shortly thereafter.

While I fancy myself somewhat of a stunt woman (I once jumped off the back of my bike, tossing it forward to avoid being run over by a Chicago taxi.), this happened so fast I was unable to brace my fall or shield my face.  Maybe if I hadn’t been so close to the wall, I could have tossed the crock pots forward and avoided impact altogether.  Maybe if I had used a different chair or asked hub to do the lifting, no harm would have come.

But harm did come.

I heard my daughter cry out.  I heard Hub run down the hall in a panic.  I felt the warm wet that I knew meant this was going to be ugly.

For one minute, I couldn’t speak.  My thoughts were formed and my action plan ready but I couldn’t make my mouth say the words.
When I did, the sentences came out in the wrong order:  “I need an ice pack,” “I’m ok,” and then “Get Claudia out of the room.”

Steve brought me a rag and the frozen peas.  He asked again if I was alright.  I knew I wasn’t.

I tipped my hand open to show him the steady stream of blood coming out of my face.  I didn’t know the size or shape of the cut but I could see the puddle growing on the floor.

I didn’t pass out.  Instead, I gave instructions: Yes, call an ambulance.  Call, no go knock on neighbor’s door.  Call this friend.   No, call from my phone so she knows who it is.  Go comfort the kids.

What I expected to feel, I didn’t.  I wasn’t in pain.

But I was acutely aware of not being able to comfort my own kids; I didn’t want to scare them.

A whole lot of things happened after that:  Fire truck/EMTs/Friend arrived, ER visit, plastic surgeon called, on-staff plastic surgeon referred, ice packs, bad jokes (Doc: “blue or black thread?”  Me: “black – it goes with everything”), stitches to pull together my brutalized forehead.

On the way home, the adrenalin wore off and I discovered all the other injuries to my body – bruised hands, elbow, inner arm, hip, shin.
Nothing was as bad as my face though.

Over the next 3 days, my nose bridge expanded until I looked like Eric Stoltz in Mask.  Both eyes were a deep eggplant/black.  (I wish the pictures did justice to just how crazy things looked.)  The black thread holding my wound closed looked menacing.  I was also having really strong headaches behind one or both eyes.  My forehead throbbed and couldn’t be touched.

From open wound, to stitches, to surgical tape, to bangs... the evolution of my broken face.
From open wound, to stitches, to surgical tape, to bangs… the evolution of my broken face.

According to my surgeon, I was going to be fine.  I just needed a better story.  I considered some…

“I’ve started MMA training.”  

“There was a brawl that broke out at Mommy & Me.”

or my personal favorite “The first rule of Fight Club…

But the truth is I suck at lying of any kind and there may be some truth to this.

So let my life serve as a warning, dear friends:  DON’T STAND ON CHAIRS EVEN BIG HEAVY WOODEN ONES USE A STEPLADDER!
(Like this super sexy one that I bought.)

No self-actualized person worth her salt would let this big bad experience go by without learning a lesson.
But what was mine?

I couldn’t think of it right away…  “Be more careful” was just too obvious (and boring).  Was it time to let go of my vanity once and for all?  Would I finally have to do something about my “baby” weight (you know breaking chairs and stuff) now that I couldn’t get by on my face?  Was the universe telling me to aim lower (I have been punching above my weight for some time now).  Should I stop playing hostess?  Sure, sure – any of those could have fit.  But then I got it.  See if you think I’m right…

After the accident, I was too scary for public.  I sent an email to work, explaining the accident and that I’d be working from home for a few days until the swelling/bruising went down.  The office where I contracted sent a heartfelt email reply, flowers, and a new crockpot with love from the entire office.

I had texts, emails and calls from friends and industry colleagues and family.
I had a friend pick me up from a doctor visit, drive me around to errands, and returned me safely home.

But really the best were the friends, who are struggling with their own big and bad, who dropped off homemade pasta dinner for my family the night after the accident.

Even with something totally crappy happening in their life, they still had goodness and compassion and generosity to share with others.

And That?  Well, THAT was MY lesson.

Don’t drink the poison

I’m one of those all or nothing people.

I suck at faking it.  Whatever ‘it’ may be.

People close to me love and hate this with equal intensity.  I’m incapable of bullshit because I just think it a waste of time.  The rubber-band sting of immediate disappointment/rejection/truth is far preferable to the severed-limb agony of being lied to and let down after an emotional investment.

Mostly I’m referring to private live, but something happened last week in my professional life that made me pause.

I’m no stranger to work drama.  A friend and former colleague rationalized this unhappy truth by saying that I make jobs too personal.  This always makes me think of that scene in You’ve Got Mail, where Joe Fox keeps repeating to Kathleen Kelly that “It’s not personal; it’s business.”  At times, I wish I could have such a Spartan view of my work life but then again, it would take all the color from my day.

Passion is probably the thing that has sustained – me through job losses, company bankruptcies, recessions, implosions, exhaustion, demotion, and descrimination.  Sure, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way (I hope).  Sure, I’ve made mistakes that cost me financially, personally, and professionally.  My preference remains, however, to go out in a blaze of glory.  Or at the very least, with my head high.

Ok, admittedly, that is a little dramatic.  And I haven’t actually pulled a Jerry Maguire exit at any of my employers.  Once, however, two HR professionals had flown in from out of town to admit the company’s fault and prescribe no repurcussions for the guilty executive.  I listened for three whole minutes before saying, “I think we’re done here”  and walked out of the meeting leaving them with nothing to do but wait for their flight home.

When it comes to my work, I, inevitably, end up “drinking the Kool-Aid”.  I can’t give my all to a cause I don’t believe in.  Maybe that’s a defect.  But on the upside, I have never suffered through a toxic work situation without actively participating in changing that situation.

So when I found out a former client went to work at a place that gut-punched me when I was most vulnerable, I got vertigo.  As politely as I could manage, I said, “I’m sorry.  I just can’t talk about that.” 

(Pause for dramatic effect.)

I know this probably sounds childish.  It certainly isn’t her fault what happened to me.  She likely has no idea that it did.  The job is likely a great step for her career path.  I feel sad that I am so changed by that experience and that I haven’t “gotten over it.”

Maybe I will someday.  Maybe I won’t.  Some things cannot be made right, but I hear they get less pointy with time.

While likely confusing to this client, my abrupt silence accomplished one thing:  I didn’t poison her with any of my own experience.

I may be guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid, but I refuse to drink the poison.