Few places hold a torch when it comes to humidity intensity in the East Texas piney woods, especially after four straight days of early-summer rainfall. Breathing outside during dawn or dusk is like inhaling warm, invisible snot that sticks in little teardrop beads to every single part of you. It’s oddly sentimental though; growing up in SE Texas, the humidity is like a tight hug from your grandmother who always smells like home cooked something: noodles and pork chops, rosemary bread, brown gravy. Humidity like this can be embracing and comforting—a reminder that at the end of a long, stressful day, she’s here for you whether you think you need her or not.
Under a darkening, blue sky with broad, brush-stroked pinks and purples, grandmother humidity wraps herself about me as I close the barn door and secure the latch. I faintly hear hay crunching from inside: donkey dinner time.
This is a chore I’ve had for years now (the shuffling of donkeys into their shelter and distribution of their hay) and for the first time, it’s completely worn me out. I stand in front of the barn and lean my weight into the door for a moment to catch my breath, the damp air lining my lungs like teflon. My vision blurs and my heart hops heavily as I close my eyes and wait for the feeling of lightheadedness to pass. I’ve been ill—at times severely—over the past two months. It occurs to me that I’ve never been the kind of ill that causes such a profound loss of strength: my muscles having diminished to soft, wobbly blobs on my bones. King Ranch was right, it was probably too soon for me to bring the donkeys in alone…but I missed that part of my evening routine and insisted I give it a try. I see him now standing in the window watching me from the house, his face a mix of concern and I told you so.
I think I’m beginning to heal, but healing is a tricky thing. It’s not like illness, injury, or brokenness must come to a clean stop before healing can begin; I think there’s a lot of overlap. There are gains and losses between brokenness and healing. They toggle around: a tug-of-war that pulls one way, then another. Back and forth and back and forth as each side loses and gains strength, they fight to win you over.
Healing is a funny thing: her ability to be happening and not happening at the same time. Healing can be busy at work even when we don’t think she’s there but I also think we can control parts of our healing, too. Healing is like breathing: when you’re not thinking about it, healing involuntarily happens on her own but simultaneously, when you’re aware of it, you can either help healing or hinder her. You can decide to block healing by not letting go or being too afraid to look forward.
Of course, some things never fully heal and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Healing, as I’m imagining her as this personified ghost in our beings, is smart. I like that healing allows for some scars to stick around to remind you of the past…like if you were bullied in school, I think she leaves those memories there so that you can remember to be kind to others—that what we say and do to each other really does matter and it really sucks when you’re treated badly. She leaves scars over our hearts so we can remember how brave we once were and when life buries us with piles of uncontrollable circumstance, we can look down at the discolored scar and remember our bravery….our strength.
My vision finally clears itself of yellowish stars and through the heavy dampness, I begin what seems like a very long walk back to the house. Cicadas call from the treetops—their buzzing and clicking chorus an audible illustration of what the inside of my head and chest feels like. Everything is just so unfocused and fuzzy.
But a few days ago, I couldn’t make this walk on my own and yet, here I am. The bandages stuck to me itch in the humidity and I’m anxious to remove them soon to see what’s left in their place…but I still have some time before I can do that. Right now, I’ll take the itching, the pain, the frightening vulnerability and fear of infection all as parts of healing doing her job. It’s because of her that I got the donkeys in tonight and could run my fingers through their shedding fur. But now she’s telling me to go lay down. The beads of humidity roll down my arms and it almost feels as if grandmother humidity is pushing me back towards the house: all these forces telling me to take it easy.
We should listen to them: listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us. Intuition is a powerful thing.
I hear ya humidity. I hear ya, healing. I’ll go lay down now and try again tomorrow.
Reblogged this on A Donkumentary and commented:
I go back and read my stories sometimes and this one in particular caught my breath. I remember this clearly: it was three years ago that a device the size of a USB drive was implanted in my chest to monitor my uncooperative heart. It made airport screenings, MRIs, x-rays, and low-cut shirts awkward to explain for a while until I was able to have it removed last summer when the battery died and my cardiologist decided they’d collected all the data they needed to move forward.
But on June 25th three years later, here I am yet again, bandaged up, worried, but wrapped in humidity’s embrace; my heart still broken. My body having been through so much since then and over the next few weeks and months, will be so much more.
I don’t mean to be vague or despondent, but I think it’s important to add my support to the many people existing (often in silence) with invisible illnesses. Rare disease. Undiagnosed ailments.
We’ve all, at some point and in some way, been poked, prodded, cut into, gas-lit, dismissed, left out, and pigeon-holed without a chance to explain.
We all see those uplifting images that say “be kind always because you never know what battles other people are fighting,” but how often are we really stopping to do that? Or is it easier to be kind until someone starts to show symptoms that become inconvenient? Too often it feels like talking about mental/chronic illness is all fine and good until the scary, unsavory bits show themselves.
All this to say, healing is fluid. Healing is unique to each and every one of us. Healing is put on hold or pushed back sometimes. Healing becomes contingent on environment. And no one — NO ONE — has any right to define your healing process or put you in a position to have to defend it. To tear you down. To intimidate you into silence. To decide who you are. To guilt you for not moving their speed. To judge you because their healing has been harder. (If you drown at 5 feet or 20 feet, it doesn’t matter, you’ve still drowned. Let’s stop comparing).
Your healing is yours. It helps tremendously when you have loving support. But in the end, it’s yours.
Please take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Give yourself time to heal, knowing that it’s a sliding scale. And that’s okay.
I love you.
You know I will kick the @ss of those pimple faced know-it-all’s who dared to judge and control your beautiful mind for not doing it their way. Smarmy, self-congratulating, oily, sophomoric, socially stunted nerds that they are.
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❤️ that is reciprocal