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.
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.
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