Are you paranoid to check the right boxes on a health history form? What about in your life?

I have been a massage therapist now for almost 19 years.  There is a first step when someone comes to see me for the first time – the filling out of their Health History form. 

The way that I have mine set up is that it is one page but 2-sided. I give it to them, ask them to fill it out and I ALWAYS point out that it is 2-sided so don’t forget to flip it over and finish telling me about themselves.  At LEAST 50% of the time they forget to flip it over. I take them into the treatment room and start to go over it with them.

Sure enough, when I flip it over to read the rest it is empty.  They haven’t filled out anything let alone being careful to check the right boxes at all.

The problem with this is that the second side asks for some vital information:

Have you had an accident?  Have you been wounded? Have you required surgery? Have you been required to be cut open in order to be fixed?  Do you have any assistance…pins, wires? Are you seeing anyone else to get help? Is there anything else that there have been no words for so far in this form? Something I couldn’t put into words but you struggle with as well?

The first page just tells me the facts and the symptoms but if you check the right boxes, the second page tends to tell me the story…how you got those symptoms. But so often this page is forgotten. 

check the right boxes

I confess that, emotionally, this has been a tough week for me.  I feel selfish saying that, considering why it has been hard. I have sat and listened to more than one person tell me how their current world is falling apart…or where their world has crumbled in the past. 

For some stories, I have come home and cried in private and prayed…for others I have sat in their presence and cried with them.  

As I listened to my dear friend share her past, my heart broke for her.  She is a beautiful human and she has moved on in a beautiful way…but there are some things from her past that still have her weighed down…not quite free.  There are some labels she can’t shake. She’s disappointed that she hasn’t checked the right boxes.

As she shared, she started by saying that years ago she was doing great and checking off the right boxes, accomplishing what she had set out to do: graduated, married, kids, completing more school, etc. After those is when life started encountering twists and turns.  Things that she never had on her checklist.  

She sees these things as mistakes, terrible choices…and granted, maybe different ones COULD have been made.  But they weren’t. And here she is. AND HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE IS.

When I listened to her, I felt that she is ok with filling out the first page of her life’s health history…the facts and the symptoms.  But she doesn’t want to turn the page over…she doesn’t want to fill out the other page…the ‘ugly’ side.  She doesn’t think she will be able to check the right boxes.

How long have I felt this?  I was raised in a home where divorce was not something you ever considered…where God was to be all that I needed so sadness shouldn’t be a problem…A typically perfect life was that I graduate high school, I go to University and somewhere in there I meet the man of my dreams.  We get married and have all the children we desire. We stay together, we are healthy…I even get to be a stay-at-mom because my husband makes a ton of money:)

It didn’t go that way. At the age of 20 I received the diagnosis of major depression. I was sent to psychiatrists, out-patient programs at the hospital, medication, counselor after counselor to try to help me get to the bottom of it all.  I was in my mid 20s sleeping on the floor outside of my parents bedroom because I was too afraid to be alone or far from them.

When I was 26 I moved out on my own, and that was when I resorted to kitchen knives to try to relieve my pain. I was desperate. All of my friends were married by this point and having babies…so when I met my first husband I finally felt relief that it was my turn. Check that box.  Married.

It was literally 3 months to the day after we said our vows that my world started crumbling…secrets started pouring out that I had no idea about. I kept pushing through…I didn’t tell a soul what was happening behind closed doors because remember, people like me don’t get divorced.

In those 5 years, I managed to check another box…I had a baby. A beautiful one. Check.  

But sixteen months after that was checked off my list, things changed. New things were being checked that I never wanted on my list.

  I have hated the second page of my health history.
I didn’t check the right boxes.

Have I been wounded? Yes. Oh the feeling in my heart as I sobbed while rocking my baby in a rocking chair…trying to cope from the physical pain in my heart from an emotional wound. 

Do I need assistance? Yes…I will be on meds the rest of my life and go to a counselor faithfully.

Is there an ache or pain that is hard to put into words? Oh yes yes yes. 

But as I said to my friend, maybe, just maybe, God wanted those boxes checked.  Words I have hated, words I have been embarrassed to say: 

Divorced – check. 

Ex-husband – check. 

Single mom – check. 

Depressed – check. 

Step mom – check. 

Second marriage – check. 

Untrusting – check.

I’m not sure many people would look at this list and see me as someone who checked the right boxes.

I think God loves the second page of my health history.  I think He smiles. He’s okay with the boxes that I have checked.

Maybe on their own, each name looks ugly.  Yes, divorce on its own is ugly. Depression can be hideous. Second marriage can represent failure because you needed a second chance. 

But put it all together and it is GORGEOUS. Oh how I love Ted now. I often wish I had met him a long time ago but I wouldn’t love him like I do now.  He is beautiful and his love is beautiful because of my amazing divorce.

I always wanted Summer to have siblings, I always wanted to have more babies. I wasn’t done.  But if it had come the way it usually does in a perfect world, I would have just taken it for granted.

Do you know how beautiful it is to hear your 14 year-old STEP daughter refer to Summer as her sister????  And she means it. Oh how Avery means it. And Blake…she loves Summer and she calls her sister, too. And sweet Jaden…since day 1 he has called Summer “Cute Petunia” and he does it to this day. He loves her.

How beautiful BECAUSE it wasn’t supposed to be this way!!!  I’m so thankful I got divorced and got to get remarried and got thrown into a family of 6 who now needed a minivan! 

And yes, my trust was destroyed.  Was there even an ember of it left?  There must have been. It has been hard to see, but how beautiful it has been to grow trust again…to see it come to life again.  To push Ted away, to put a wall up and keep my distance…only for him to knock that wall down, force his arms around me and tell me over and over that he loves me…that he is not my past…that he is going to show me love and faithfulness till the day I die.  

So, yes, God…CHECK THOSE BOXES! May I be proud of my second page…proud of the reasons why I have the signs and symptoms that I do.  

What are your boxes that you never wanted checked? Maybe God has you just as He wants you. He’s like Bob Ross…he makes beauty out of mistakes.  Who knows what else will fill my second page…more is coming. More injuries, accidents, surgeries.

May I remember that they are part of my story…and may I tell that story proudly.  

He can work with whatever is on my form and make it amazing, whether I checked the right boxes or not.

I think my friend is drop-dead gorgeous, inside and out…way better than before these other boxes were checked.

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