CW: griefy babble, incoherence, iPad autocorrect errors
I have to preface this by saying that I am not crying yet, but once I start my eyesight will get horribly blurry and I can't promise to make any sort of sense. But I had to say something because I think I'd implode otherwise.
Trigger the first: writing the sort of autobiographical memory dump blog, which is one of my nano projects, has raised some (not unexpected) emotions, because reasons. Because I can remember how optimistically naive I was back during the early stages of knowing I had FOP. (I remember a conversation my mom was having with someone about how the end result of FOP was basically turning into a human statue with just finger movement left, and that horrified me until they said it was just in the worst cases and so I basically shrugged it off with "that isn't going to be me." I remember several situations of thinking that okay this whole FOP thing was inconvenient but I could handle it. I remember thinking, and voicing with complete honesty, the opinion that it could even be a good thing, because it limited the "you can do anything with your life" to cut out, say, marathon running or whatever, and at that point I had more possibilities than I knew what to do with.). And because it reminds me of things I used to do. Used to be able to do.
Trigger the second: in one of my other online fora, someone posted a giveaway offer for a cross-stitch kit that, twenty years ago, I would have snapped up in a flash.
I started cross-stitch sort of as a "because my big sister was doing it" thing, but I got seriously hooked, and it was one of my sanity savers during college. I tended to go for the more realistic ones, often with either nature themes (especially animals) or fantasy themes. And I was ... obsessed. I would go to Michaels every chance I got, looking through what they had, whether or not I was planning on buying anything. Aisles of cross-stitch kits, from the small and kitschy to the large and detailed. I tended to go for the kits rather than solo patterns because the materials were all there -- especially since this was pre-internet, so ordering the right color thread online was not possible.
I don't know how many I actually finished, but it wasn't about finishing. It was about doing. About creating art, and about the meditative rhythm of pulling embroidery thread through fabric.
And I can't do it any more.
I can't do any of it. I can't separate the plies of embroidery thread; I can't thread a needle; I can hold on to a frame, but not in such a way that my other hand can reach the canvas to put the needle in the right place; I can't pull my arm away to draw the thread through; I can't ... I just can't.
And it hurts like someone has reached into my chest and yanked out my heart.
I've lost a lot of things. Some I don't really miss because I have alternatives (I don't really care that I can't walk; my wheelchair takes me where I need to go). Some are frustrating (going to the bathroom myself, getting in and out of bed myself, being able to drive myself places, feeding myself) and infuriating but they don't hurt, they just irritate. Some are dull aches that I've filled with other alternatives (I miss playing the violin, but I can still listen to stuff, and I still have music with my singing; I miss knitting, but I can still do it awkwardly and I have crochet and loom knitting to fill the yarn-play gap).
Losing xstitch hurts, and it doesn't stop hurting, and there aren't alternatives.
I mean, technically, yes, I could use Tunisian simple stitch to make a fabric that I could do large-scale cross-stitch on, but that's not the sort of thing that I miss, because it would either be super simple (I went more for the more realistic looking stuff, not the "blocky arrangement that sort of looks like a bird if you squint) or so large that I wouldn't be able to manage it.
And it doesn't help with the things that I have as cross-stitch kits that I would give pretty much anything to be able to make.
I knew that xstitch got harder as you got older, because of eyesight changes. But that can be adapted for with bright light and magnification. Immobility can't.
I want my xstitch back. I want it so badly I can't even cry; it just bottles up in my throat. I want it so much that the words I've written here aren't enough to either convey the depth of my need or to relieve the pain.
I want it back, and I'm *never going to be able to do if ever again*,
And every time I think about if, every time I see the sort of xstitch I'd have been attracted to, every time I see one of the boxes of half-finished xstitch projects shoved in my closet that I really ought to get rid of but can't bear to, it's like getting stabbed all over again.