I’ve had cabin fever for months now. Every so often, I get to venture out, but for the most part, I was secluded in my home working on the documentary (I’ll make an update video soon).
I was looking forward to getting back into my old job of subbing — not because it’s my passion, but because I’ve been feeling so lonely. I’ve grown accustomed to having my own space, but to lack genuine human interaction where I can create and engineer things that have nothing to do with my health condition is something I desperately need. To constantly work on something that reminds me everyday of what I’ve lost, what I’m fighting with no release, is torment. Honest to god, torture. To be stagnant, not being able to move on and focus on myself, has slowly been killing me. I have no one to blame but myself. Two years ago, when I took the documentary on, I had no idea what was ahead — the joys, the connections, the loneliness, the anxiety, the pressure, the vulnerability, the pride, the adventure, the sacrifice — you can imagine it in sorts, but to experience it in full, my imagination came up short.
I feel lost, foremost. I’ve felt that since day one. My marriage fell apart the same week I started my documentary campaign. Since then, my life has been centered around getting this beast done. I looked for distractions along the way, falling short and/or putting myself in harms way, but now that it’s done, I’ve taken a good hard look in the mirror, and I’m in shambles. Yes, I’m still the me that’s full of love, wanting to make everyone feel like they are special and cared for and worthy of affection, but I have no idea how to show that to myself. And sometimes I think it’s a lesson I’ll never learn. I’m sure others have felt this, many others — that the genesis of their love and outpouring isn’t because they solely want others to feel loved, but that they deserve that love as well and maybe, just maybe, if they can show it to others, they’ll realize how to show it to themselves.
I fail that test over and over.
Because, since finishing the documentary, it’s become extremely apparent how badly I’ve allowed my health to decline.
My skin has been such a nuisance lately. I have yet to go back to the dark and gruesome days, but the skin on my inner elbows, neck, and face, burn and flake. Just as my nails tear into my flesh, it tears into my spirit. I’m blotchy, and the dryness has returned to this plastic flesh that only seems to be indefinite as the layers peel away. You just get exhausted. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome, and after several years of going through this inferno, I’m sure many of us could be labeled insane, with good reason. A carousel of chaos and questions and uncertainty.
So, you can guess, my first day back at my school to sub wasn’t my most triumphant. I was overjoyed seeing some of the children, getting massive hugs and waves and grins from the youngest of the bunch, but I felt terrifyingly inadequate. My jawline and whole right side of my face burned, and it felt so… fractured.
There is no real explaining that feeling. I’ve tried, but the closest I ever came was, “It’s like having a really bad sunburn all the time.” But that only conveyed a specific part of the despair.
Well, I found the other part tonight. After leaving the school, my spirit cowering at any eye contact I had to make with people, I ran over to a Walgreens and emptied my pockets. I grabbed any new skin oil I could find, some capsules to spread over the ‘fractures’, and then this random face mask that was on super sale. I was feeling intense hopelessness and, when in pain, you sometimes need to feel like you are doing something.
After downing a meal in the comfort of my room (a whole other part of my health that has gone down hill — my eating habits), I snatched the face mask cream out of the bag and read the instructions: Apply a thin layer, allow it to dry for 15 minutes, and then remove with warm water. Simple enough. I was promised radiant skin!
When the mask began to dry, it created a tightness — you know, like face masks do. And if you contort your face or open your mouth or raise your eyebrows, the mask will grow even tighter, cracking in places if pulled too harshly. I stared in the mirror and recognized the face staring back — that face mask is exactly how I feel almost everyday. The fractures are inevitable, and your face feels coated in a solid, clay film. But unlike the mask, you can’t just wash it off. And you don’t get radiant skin, just more face mask.
My eyes are growing heavy as I write this, partly from my lack of peaceful sleep, but the other from this condition. It is my relentless companion, the only one I don’t care to host.
And even though I am feeling at a bit of a low, it never stops me from finding a purpose to wake up in the morning. If I didn’t have a reason to get out of bed, then I’d be in real trouble. That is when the hopelessness wins. Life may be difficult, and it may come with some massive hurdles, but I’d rather be laying in my bed dredging through various amounts of pain, than laying in a coffin. And, if I am going to find a purpose, it’s going to be one that counts. Go big or go home. If I have to be stuck with this slack-less canyon, might as well invent some wings.
These next few months, as I work at the school, I will be making it a priority to find my yellow brick road. It’s time to move on from working on the documentary (well, mostly), and marinate in things that make my heart happy — my writing, dance, and exploring new career avenues, perhaps even in film. I cherish storytelling — maybe I can get paid for it one day.
And as for love, I will always continue to give it. I don’t know how to stop. I still think it’s, in part, a coping mechanism for the lack of love I feel for myself, but I want to work on that, too. I’ve already made a messy nest in my romantic limbo, feeling odiously lonely while also not wishing to engage in an actual exclusive, serious relationship with anyone because, well, I’m the emotional equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting. But I’m not good at the ‘middle ground’ either. Swiping right or left is not my style. Plus, that means going on a date and ha, not a chance. The internet is cruel, but also a massive liar. A picture can paint any story you want, and my fragile spirit could never fathom recovering from a potential egotistical douchebag swiping left on my photo, but then being disappointed in the actual merchandise. I need more time to build that love in myself before it gets wrecked by another human being.
Be selfish with that. Love yourself first. Give love, as much endless love as you want, but don’t hand your heart over to someone just because they are the first person to come along and show you attention. Know your own worth first. The love you deserve is out there. In fact, it’s in you,
just under all those face masks.
Love, B. R. Banos