Monthly Archives: November 2016

Begin again

You are allowed, at any time, to start again. 

Gravel slipped into my flats one piece at a time until I felt a small mountain biting into my heel. The Canal was empty – it seemed everyone was tucked inside, celebrating with their loved ones, while I wandered down the trail. I didn’t mind the silence. There’s something centering about being in nature alone, as if the air fills your lungs differently when you travel by yourself.

I felt whole for the first time in months.

Dead leaves crunched under my feet. Sections of the Canal were bone-dry, others were swampy messes. The trees, naked and stalwart, guarded every bend in the path. We were thoroughly lodged in fall, though distinct memories of a lingering summer were still fresh in my mind.

I wandered for an hour, curious under the November sun.

My jacket blew open with the wind as I traced the mountains blocking the horizon. The sky was blue – too blue, if I’m being honest. An unhealthy color for this time of year. And I thought about everything I couldn’t write down: my confusion in love, the balance between honesty and desperation, the idea that the Universe might be sending signs to direct my actions (or worse, that no one was directing my actions but me). Then I did something truly remarkable.

I gave myself permission to fail. But more importantly, I gave myself permission to start again.

In that moment, it made all the difference. A breath I didn’t realize I was holding flooded through my lips in a single gust until there was nothing left in my chest. I was empty, but in the way that mugs are empty – which is to say, I am ready to be filled with goodness once again. The thought made me smile, winter barely catching on my teeth as I ambled home.

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Afoot

My feet are ugly.

When I was little, I jumped down a flight of stairs and landed in a laundry basket. Four children had leapt before me, but I was the only one who got hurt. I broke two toes and the growth plate in my left foot – then hobbled up the stairs, watching the blood spread under my skin, until my foot was a blotchy mess. My mother rushed me to the ER.

An hour later, the doctor showed us the x-ray and confirmed that yes, my foot was broken. One toe was snapped clean in half. I remember wanting to touch the bone pieces, but the pain was immense and my stubbornness was not fully realized.

They set my bones, wrapped my foot in heavy cast material, and eventually sent me home. Soon after, I began using my broken foot as a weapon against mean boys (always boys, always mean). More specifically, I decided to kick the shins of every boy on the playground who teased me.

It was the first time I felt weaponized.

Every time a boy would make fun of me or call me names, I’d run up and kick them as hard as possible. Almost all of them started to fear me, but with the sort of childhood fear that is nearly indistinguishable from respect. The vibrations from my cast connecting with their shins jostled my healing bones. I had to bite my tongue as I kicked to avoid crying out alongside them.

And it made my feet ugly.

I am comfortable with this ugliness. I find some peace within it – as if this small allowance is proof that I cannot be reduced down to appearance. My feet are ugly, but that’s never made me any less worthwhile. The toes on my left foot are proof that I can heal after being broken, but more than that, they are a reminder that I am strong. I’ll never forget walking up the stairs that I had just flown above, the humility in gritting my teeth and stumbling to my mother on broken bones.

I wonder if that’s how Icarus felt, his back a mess of wax and expectations, as he plunged into the sea. I wonder if I’ll feel like that again.

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Chronic

My body is shutting down.

Fibromyalgia morphs stress into pain – the more stressed I get, the more pain I feel. It always starts in my feet. I can feel the muscles churning and twisting underneath thin skin. I press my thumbs into my heel to stave off yelling.

This pain carries upward, like an exponential chart made physical, made unreadable, made unreliable. Pain moves upward. It is currently as high as my hips and spine. Imagine someone unbolting the connector for your hips – all night. The echoes of their monkey wrench colliding with bone again and again and again wakes me up at all hours. My spine radiates pain at the base. I can feel the exact vertebrae that has betrayed me.

When you find a doctor who believes in fibromyalgia, they ask you to recount every trauma in your life. Using this method, they can give you a general idea of when you maxed out your Flight or Fight response. I was eight and I have long since discovered that there is a third option.

Flight, fight, or freeze. Everyone forgets the freeze.

You know what blows about having a chronic illness like fibro? No one can see your diagnosis. Your own family tell you it’s no big deal. Friends will tell you their aunt’s father’s best friend had it and he still ran twelve miles every day. People will tell you that your illness is your fault, that you’re not doing enough, that you could force yourself to get better “if you would just…”

And you know what? They’re going to tell you the same thing.

People will tell you that you should not feel sad. People will misdiagnose your pain as a tantrum and their privilege will allow them to see nothing else. They will tell you to get over it, they will tell you there’s nothing to be down, they will tell you that there’s no reason to be upset.

Many of us are hurting right now. We are stuck in the freeze, our wounds open, our throats raw. I’m going to invite you to take your time and heal. However long you need. It is valid to feel devastated, terrified, angry. You’re allowed to feel whatever is filling your chest cavity. When you’re ready, we have some work to do.

I love you. I’m proud of you. We’ll figure this out together.


 

 

TO THOSE WHO HOLD CONGRESS WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU FEEL DIFFICULT TO LOVE

Wolves have 42 teeth and even the ones
that melt your heart are strong enough
to pierce it and there’s no such thing
as mercy on the forest floor

Look beyond the gaping maw,
remove the bandages from your palms
and remember that it has always
known your taste

This time, run
this time shove the blood-moistened snout
from between your ribs and howl back
scream into the night that bore the beast

This time
take no prisoners.


 

an old poem that felt fitting after this week. Please, please be good to each other – love loudly. Heal however you need, do no harm, and lean on the people you trust.

and if you need people, you’ve got me.

-K

 

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The Art of Asking

I struggle to ask for what I need. Often, all I need is clarity, but I always feel an instant of guilt for the space and the resources my existence requires – as if somehow, I have yet to be worthy of either. Sometimes that feeling is gone in a breath, but other times it lingers under my tongue, flavoring every word before it leaves my mouth.

I don’t know, man. I just want to be a force of good and lately all I’ve felt is… halved. Confused. Lonely.

Sometimes I wonder how that could be. I think I accidentally stepped out of time years and years ago, and it’s dragged on without me in it. Maybe this is mental illness. Or maybe, even more terrifying – this is how everyone feels all the time.

Here’s a list of questions I have right now, in no particular order. Please help.

  • Can someone who has lived abroad/traveled for longer than a month at a time help me with my trip to Europe? I don’t know where to begin.
  • Does anyone have any trusted friends/family in Europe with whom I could connect while I’m over there next year? I’d prefer to know people, so I’m casting my net.
  • Is there anyone willing to be platonic cuddle buddies? My heart is too occupied for anything else, but I want to feel cared for.
  • Does anyone have any good book recommendations? I need to get lost somewhere.
  • How do you make your commute more entertaining? The time I spend alone in my car is getting absurd.
  • Chronically ill people, how do you make changes in your life without wiping yourself out? I still don’t know how to operate a sick body.
  • What can I do differently to be seen and understood? I love this blog space, but I have had people use my words like weapons against me and it makes me so tired.
  • What’s the best moment in your routine? I need some more goodness in my day.
  • What makes you feel the most whole?

 

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