As I was swapping over my summer wardrobe to fall this morning, and sorting into "keep" and "'donate" piles, I came across a tee shirt that I hadn't worn all season. I bought it approximately a year and a half ago, right about the time I started coming to grips with the tremor. I found it while at Walmart with one of my sisters. It was displayed alongside other graphic tees, some with Elmo's face, and others with writing. This one caught my eye in particular. It was bright red, with white blurry lettering, printed sideways, so one would have to cock their head to the side to read it. "YOU LOOK FUNNY DOING THAT WITH YOUR HEAD"
Even though they only had it in two sizes, too big for me, I grabbed one and held it up to my sister.
"I HAVE to buy this." I said.
The two of us started laughing hysterically, causing people around us to stare.
"Are you kidding me?" my sister said "That was MADE for you!"
I remember wearing it to the next group I attended, where everyone noticed, and laughed. One of the facilitators asked me what had made me buy it? He recalled times in the past when I hadn't found the humor in it.
"It makes me laugh." I said " I haven't laughed in a long time. And it says 'I know you're staring at me shaking my head, and I KNOW it looks pretty funny. '"
Someone in the group commented "I think it says you've accepted it, and you can laugh about it, and that puts others at ease."
Holding the tee shirt in my hand, I couldn't decide if I wanted to keep it, or donate it. I hadn't worn it in a year and it was just taking up space in my dresser, but I couldn't will myself to give it away. Wearing the shirt in the past had sparked some pretty interesting conversations, even gotten people to STOP staring at me. But I don't need a shirt to spark conversation anymore, or to get them to laugh, or stop staring I told myself. I have found other ways. Still, I couldn't see parting with it. When I realized how long I had been standing there, shirt in hand, pondering whether to keep it or give it away, I felt silly for spending so much time on this rather simple decision.
Even though I know it's a tee shirt I might wear only once a year, I decided to hold onto it. It still represents a lot for me. It reminds me that there was once a time when I couldn't laugh, when the tremor brought me nothing but sadness and anxiety. But it also reminds me that I have regained my sense of humor, and the ability to shake things off.