I was looking for an outlet tonight and I started to scroll through a slew of memes and quotes (naturally), and funnily enough, one told me to grab a cup of hot chocolate. I quickly remembered that I had a random pack of cocoa mix sitting in my bag from work. I snatched it up, put the kettle on, and stirred myself a big, ol’ cup of Christmas before settling down at my computer.
I’ve had a lot on my mind, and quite a lot on my plate. This past weekend, however, there was a night where everything kind of came to a head. I had been running and running, both my jobs consuming my time and energy, and I had finally achieved a night of solitude — empty house, new movie playing on the television, snug in my bed — and THAT was the moment my mind decided to speak loudly. I hadn’t realized how much it was holding back while all the other necessary worries and obligations were at the forefront. But in that silence, in that quiet time, it told me things I had been suppressing.
I have been battling my health for some time now. Yes, it was monstrous in the beginning and I could never say my physical health is as deleterious as before, but I am still surviving it’s battle wounds. Lately, my hands, arms, neck and face have been bothering me, and my alacrity is more in the “lac” department. It’s a gamble most days in the morning on what I’m going to look like or feel like. One morning can be bearable, while the next I’ll have to do damage control for 15 minutes in my mirror. And with my outer body feeling the aching side effects of a chronic condition, it wears on the heart, too.
While sitting in my bed, having to pause a movie I was actually enjoying, I couldn’t help but feel that horrible pain in my chest — the one that invites you in for a conversation you’ve been trying to avoid. I kept hearing in my head,
“but, what if you never get better?”
It is, by far, the most terrifying, and vital, question I hide from everyday. I’ve tried, as much as one can, to heal from the trauma my body has endured for the past 4 1/2 years. There is no straight answer; there is no cure. For someone who had worked so hard to be far from where she is now, and to know that things are (seemingly) out of my control, it is unbearable some days. I am still paying off the debt I owe for trying stem cells, and am currently paying for herbal medicine that is not covered by insurance. I look in the mirror and don’t see myself, but a desperate need to be who I was. I still lust for that life, yet then that question comes banging…
“but, what if you never get better?”
So, there I was, trying to answer this question while tucked away in my warm bed. There was no one there to distract me from that thought, no piece of work to toil over. Just. that. question.
And the answer to it breaks my heart, and I wish it didn’t. That’s how I know I still have a ways to go with my own healing, because the only solution is to love myself just as I am and accept myself in this new body — to love it as much as I loved the old one. But how can I love something that doesn’t allow me to perform, to move across the floor and fly freely in the air as she once had? And most of all, one that allowed someone to love her.
I’d told myself, since my divorce, that once I was healed, I would be vulnerable and go back out into the dating world to find love again, to let someone all the way in. Yet, the longer my condition has lasted, the more I’ve had to understand that, perhaps, I may need to give that perfect plan up.
I was able to spend time with two of my best friends and their significant others recently. It had been awhile because my schedule has been so jam packed. And, as I sat in the presence of both couples, watching how easy it was for them to be comfortable with each other, to hear how one had flown together to an out of state wedding, and the others’s happy little adventures together — all of these milestones filled with love — reminded me how much I enjoyed a relationship, someone who is there for you, and you’re there for them. No questions, no reservations.
I’ve kept myself from that joy, or at least in part, plainly because I don’t want to reach for that in this body. I’ve never wanted to show someone the nights of struggle, or be the setback when my body is too tired to act it’s age, or the constant worry that something might make me worse, or watch the disappointment on someone’s face from another treatment going nowhere. It’s easier, on my own conscience, to know I am not someone’s burden, not because I don’t feel I deserve the same love I put out onto the world, but because I’m frightened of finally letting someone in and they find that they can’t handle this abnormal roller coaster I call my life. That it’s not enough — that I’m not enough.
But then, I remember, that love is a risk in any situation. I could be the juiciest, most beautiful peach, and there will be people who hate peaches. That the only person standing in my way is me. Because, sadly, I may never get better. That’s not my fault and I am not to blame for what happened to me. But I am responsible for how I live my life and how I choose to play the hand I have been dealt. That it’s necessary for me to peel my heavy grip from that notion of healed = lovable and worthy, and give myself a chance to find someone who looks at all my cracks and broken places as an opportunity to pour their love into, not run away from. To have them hold these tender hands with pride and care as they stroll beside me, and kiss my forehead with no care in the world who sees. To allow them to protect my energy and be happy with both the tired and bright versions of myself.
To allow someone to love me. Just like this. Just as I am.
2020, here’s looking at you, kid.
Love, B. R. Banos