We begin with our gratitude. I am grateful for the opportunities my job has afforded me financially. I can follow whims. I can chase down dreams of my youth. I can ramble into a convention, see what I want to see, and ramble home. It is very lucky and it is the framework, currently, for a life that might have otherwise been wholly unsatisfying.
I got to shake the hand of someone else I believe is doing true good. Who is a piece of something that matters so much to me.
Tomorrow, I would have noted once, is the day I am going to the doctor.
I just don’t want to open it up and agitate the world. It’s enough that it is happening and it is a thing I swore in private conversations with the self, the sort that never show up here because they demand that I am small and fearful and beholden to all the terrors one can invent, that would never happen. Ever. That it was too much. That I would pass out by coming within a thousand feet of the idea. That I am broken in such a way that there was no such thing as pre-emptive care. It would happen and it would be so significant and terrible and painful and devastating that health care would happen to me, not by any will of my own. It would be traumatic and expensive and I would regret not being able to marshall enough bravery just to find out that the road I was walking would eventually lead to a field of upturned nails and glass. But to do otherwise, the inner talk insisted, was impossible. I could more easily sprout wings.
And life continues, and I believe myself over fact.
Except, somehow, some way, past me did not inform the fear and made an appointment. And it will be a morning of terror, but I’ll end up knowing how, if possible to right the path. I’ll be able to ask the question I want to ask which is less a question than a request…tell me, with your authority, your review of my chart, as I might ask a shaman, a palm reader…tell me what to do with what’s before you. This addled person who is alone so often that food is friend, is solace, is a bridge between moments well before it’s sustenance. Tell me who is so exhausted, with stringy, fine hair, and weak eyes and sore boobs and this blubbery gut, tell me if it’s a cup of broccoli M,T,W, and a cup of squash the other days. Hand me the calendar and say, do this. Try this for a week and see if you don’t improve. Do this and don’t do this and you likely will settle down. Drink water.
All these things I am entirely capable of doing, but won’t unless I’m prescribed. Right now, I can’t seem to lift a pinky to take care of myself and this…is a novelty. This is a curiosity. What horrors will we uncover? What grand sins? But if I can begin with the rule of law, a place that can’t be bent, I can carry that perhaps with me back to therapy. I can work on the road behind me that is guiding the road ahead.
I exist as a person who existed as a child who dealt with being shy and afraid and alone and less than the daydreams that flooded her brain by flooding it at regular intervals with secret, and aggressive treatments of sugar. Who would steal cake mixes, stir them up like E-Z Bake Oven recipes with water and a quick nuke in the microwave, and hide them away in her room. Feasting there, I remember one thing about it and one thing alone, the high of the sucrose. Of accomplishing this secret thing that was wrong, that none of the other girls did.
I never cut. I never did a thing to draw a single eye to blink. But I did do this.
I remember being punished for this upon discovery. Spanked, or given time outs or just yelled at. But I had so much time alone to tiptoe to the kitchen, draw a fingertip across the dessert undoubtedly on the countertop, and pinch a taste of five or ten. I do not recall being asked why in any serious fashion I was doing it. Why one serving did not satisfy me. I don’t know what I would have answered if I had. There was no real meditation, then. I don’t think I knew how gasping and desperate my soul was. Is. It was all inner voice, no, sense of self evolved that had the idea that I was not striving garbage. Endlessly clawing through waves and veils of fantasy towards someone, something rooted in reality, held back by a perfectionism that kept dropping me on my head. No matter how I started towards my goal, I was going the wrong way.
My mother was ill. My father at a job that didn’t pay enough. We were loved, but let loose. My body did not turn athletic like my parents’ at puberty. Whatever faerie qualities I might have claimed as a girl dissipated and I got soft and round and my short height accentuated these features – made them unforgivable flaws. It felt like being abandoned by a part of myself I thought eternal, I thought was real magic. It was a devastation. Truly. While the girls around me shot up and started running track, and drawing romantic attention, I wanted only to go back to Tolkein and Elfquest and not feel completely at odds with my vision of beauty.
But there was no going anywhere but where I could get in my head, and when I got back from that place, I sat alone at tables, I walked alone in hallways, sat alone in busses, smiling like an imbecile at people who knew me as a Stranger so they didn’t imagine me as a threatening girl with opinions.
Cake was balm. Cake was cocaine. Even if the understanding was that Cake was a treat that rational people could control their desire over. I would eventually stop, I believed. I would eventually grow up. I would eventually be able to go to the doctor and tell them who I was and let them see me, help me, keep me on track. That is how everyone did it and that was the general understanding.
But why would you go somewhere and pay to show them the worst parts of yourself, to see their features tweak and turn down, to lay out the overdue library book of your body and beg for forgiveness when nobody had to know? Nobody had to reject me romantically, nobody had to reject my body for a failed construction, nobody had to confirm the break and if I could just hold out for a hundred years, I can escape this world with nobody saying the words loud enough for me to hear.
I am beginning to feel – to know – that I can’t hold out that long. I have to go to the doctor and hear bad news and I have to update my prescription for my glasses. I have to know my weight. I have to do situps and not look for baked goods to save me from myself. I have to drive my car in the rain and over bridges and places I haven’t been before. I have to tell you I don’t love you and I can’t sit here, not loving you, pretending I am just on the edge of being someone you could love.
I can’t go backwards. I can dream and make beauty and health and fantasy out of where I am if I can get the fear out of it. Flush my heart of the stories and the saccharine. I can go to the doctor tomorrow, and take the little prick.
Meanwhile my mother moves from week to week, from CT scan to CT scan. Good to good to good to…some point which is either better or worse. Until, as she says, they come up with the miracle cure.
Plus, I’ll save $300 on my insurance. Which I’d forgotten about as well, until just this moment. Money that will justify something frivolous or motivational or just…not cake.