It has been in the last few days that I have really begun to sift through the layers of trauma that have built themselves a home in my body. I had grand ambitions of sitting here and writing out where I've been over the last number of weeks (it seems that trauma gives me an unquenchable thirst to write) and yet sitting before the computer screen, my fingers moving over the keys, all I feel is inadequate to handle such a task.
I wrote an update letter to my friend today, beginning it with "These are just the facts, someday I'll be able to tell you the emotional side of this story." And that's how I feel. I feel like these moments are very much about my acute, physical need and that to begin to dig through the emotional trauma buried beneath the physical would be too big a task.
I have a file on my phone, thoughts and bits of wisdom from doctors and friends and random things I heard that I have been meaning to sit and work through, and yet I sit here unable to begin to dissect any of the layers of this traumatic experience.
In a recent interview Andrea Gibson did, she talked about how there was something quite freeing in speaking to an audience while she was onstage at a poetry slam and saying exactly what she was feeling. If she was anxious, or nervous, or afraid she spoke it from the stage.
And as I begin to try and sort through this mess the only way I know how, I must begin with what I am feeling, if I can put words to such a thing.
I am afraid. I feel vulnerable in the sense that I have been stripped bare, that so much of my life in these days has been displayed for the world and it able to be judged, or commented on, and there are so many varying opinions on what I should do that I have forgotten the sound of my own heart. Or bigger yet is the idea that I picked up that my heart is not something to be trusted.
I returned back to normal life after a short hospital stay (one for which I had high hopes that went unmet, that illuminated just how big and scary and unknowable this diagnosis is) and upon returning was brutally thrust into people and conversations and inquiries. I should be grateful for this as it is a sign of care but in moments it feels intrusive and blinding. I am grateful for the concern and love from those around me and yet I need time to orientate myself with the world once again, and not the old ways that I once inhabited but this new way of living. I want to wrap those I love around me and sink into warmth, huddling together against the storm. And the lack of this, despite care being given, feels cold and at times cruel.
I find myself hopeful in spurts. The hope of a new treatment, a new possibility leaves me feeling comfortable only to have the small thread of hope cut with each failed possibility. There is grief that exists in crevices I have not yet been able to reach alongside the raw emotion that spills out without warning and while at times I want to feel the bulk of this thing that is happening to me I am also grateful for self preservation. The brain's job is to protect the body, and while the physical ailments (relentless as they are) don't seem to be able to be contained, my brain is protecting this small thing. the feeling of grief existing inside my body is new, heavy and uncomfortable, and at times I want to collapse under the weight of it. It is a mysterious thing to not feel safe within your own body.
And still this trauma doesn't only affect me. I see it in lines on the faces of those I love. In a way I feel entitled to that grief, want to roar when someone mentions it as their own, and at the same time I feel helpless to prevent its rippling.
As I was driving home last night after a crash, feeling the weight of all I have lost, I thought that anything would be better than this. Give me an illness for which there is knowledge, give me physical pain, give me heartache. and yet if we saw the problems of others, we would long for our own. and yet, with hearing the story of a friend's grief today, I realized that grief, while a solitary thing, is collective.
I wonder if I begin to speak these words, if I can rattle the chains of the trauma. Perhaps this - what I am feeling- will begin to tell the story not only of physical medicine but of narrative medicine, of grief, of the human condition.
this summer I went through an intensive process of re-learning how to love myself. grief in and of itself is because of love. I wonder, even if I don't feel the roots of love right now, if this feeling and telling and grieving isn't also a part of loving myself.
"I was made to breathe and move and give, which is to say love. love. I was made to love."