We’re not out of the woods quite yet, but we’re making headway. Enough that I can look back with some clarity. Things are good and they’re getting better. My brain is starting to feel like my own. I’m able to connect ideas again, make jokes, laugh, smile, call upon higher resources.
But I’ve lost a lot. I’ve forgotten how to keep the kitchen clean. And how to keep on top of packages. Executive functions that require habit formation. They will have to be built up from scratch like the muscle tone I lost. It can be done. It’s just a matter of positive association and energy management.
I went through my Instagram stories going back to January. I can see the degeneration of my brain and spirit over those months. Months of knowing I was anemic but not getting help. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I started to lose the spark. I was facing burnout.
And for good reason.
I was dealing with a roommate who acted like a child and couldn’t pull his weight. I was dealing with having to cut off my father after he crossed an unnegotiable boundary for the last time. I had my boxes delivered and found my most precious items all gone…either stolen or given away by mistake. I came to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to find another apartment that could be more accessible because I don’t have a regular job. And I helped a friend with all the intricacies of finding an apartment and moving and having to carry a burden I should have backed away from. It was all insidious.
Even in good health that would have been a lot to deal with. I got through every single one of those issues. The cost was what was left of my health. But I’m coming back.
Like the world after Covid, I will have come back changed. This wasn’t a little health scare. It was a tectonic shift. This time has given me enough of a scare to make me realize that I have to put my health first above everyone else. I can’t give what I don’t have. “No” has to become something I am comfortable saying. Pausing, breathing, and putting me first.
I have to stop pretending that I don’t have limitations. I got very good at saying, “I’m autistic.” Now I have to get comfortable saying, “I have physical limits.” I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t recover as fast. This body of mine has to get me through a whole lot more. I’ve got to start treating it well again.
And I have to get comfortable with age. It’s fine that I am in my 40’s. That’s something to be proud of. I have endured so much. Learned so much. Changed so much. My experience has inherent worth to it.
I had to retract to learn this. When things were getting bad and I could no longer access me, I started looking outward for someone to tell me who I was. Was I still a writer? Was I valued in anyone’s life? Was I important enough to anyone, not for what I gave but because I was me, to fight for?
I’m sorry to say that when you are the strongest person in your life, there is no one like you around to help you remember who you are. There are good friends who will be patient. They will give good advice. But no one comes and picks you up when you’re sobbing uncontrollably on the floor. Most people will flee. Let them. When you don’t know the Mariana Trench of sorrows, how can you navigate deep waters to help a friend?
I cannot blame people who cannot give what they do not possess either. I was forged in fire. Most people have not faced that transformation. And even when faced with the opportunity to transform, they yield.
I’m not bitter about this. Only cautious of who I give my time and energy to. When I am ready to emerge from this convalescence, I will do so with an open heart. I will still give freely without thought of recompense. If I ever become stingy or spiteful in that way, it isn’t me. It’s a sign that something is very wrong.
If this were to happen again (pray that It doesn’t) I should know it from a pressured inner monologue, behavior that is out of character, fear, anger, brain fog, fatigue, my hair falling out, my sense of humor disappearing, forgetting things, not being able to keep up with conversation…. That is not me. That person is someone else whose debts I still have to pay.
I am funny. I am ambitious. I am fearless. I am courageous. I am kind. I am inspiring to others. I am a place of healing and calm. And I am a warrior.
I hope you never have cause to doubt your brain. But if you have, I am here to remind you of how great you are. I am the holder of memories. And I will curate yours.
I miss so many people. I can’t wait to have drinks and hugs and laugh again. I can’t wait to meet new people. I have so much hope.
But first, more IVs, more tests, more answers. No more smoking. Ten years was enough. I can’t do what I was meant to do if I don’t have a body to take me there.
Not everyone feels this pull of destiny. I am grateful for its gravity. Without it, I’d just float away into space. Insignificant as a speck of dust. And never come back.
But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.