Not so Clean Slate



a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.

I recieve a weekly journal prompt that I have not been able to do since February. I have been increasingly overwhelmed with all the different spokes of my life, especially my skin. 

However, I haven’t been able to sleep well due to the tightness in my hips since my latest surgery (Arthroscopy). I took to sorting through emails at 4am and my newest prompt was sitting there, waiting to be opened. Man, I’m glad I did.

This particular author wanted us to explore a place that holds many stories, a palimpsest — even if it was ourselves we examined. Like clockwork, my unsettled soul soared straight to TSW. Anyone that has been through Topical Steroid Withdrawal knows the raw and inevitable change that touches their life. You will never be the same.

I contemplated my own journey, a formidable palimpsest written and rewritten on this one resilient slate of bones and flesh and spirit. I have layers of self. There are some I wish I could hold again and some that I am grateful have passed. 

Right now, this novel canvas has me back to a traumatic state. I am able to taste the residue of past slates where my skin dictated all events and decisions in my life. I am there, my eyes and heart weighed down from the lack of sleep and reprieve needed to get back on my feet. I want my life back.

Yesterday, as positive and tough as I appear to be, I was pummeled with palatable amounts of shame. I went to have my nails fixed at a new shop before my surgery. These people do not know me and anxiety was already present when I knocked on their door.

Once inside, I shrank down, smaller and smaller, as the two managers scrutinized the skin on my hand. In another language, you could still understand their disgust. For a moment, I thought they weren’t going to service me — a blanket of humiation. 

I have become, once again, a leper. It isn’t something I have much control over. I’m trapped in a small hotel room, no alone time, can’t bathe, have a dependent leg, barely any sleep, constant pain, and a second intense surgery looming in a day that will have my body reeling in trauma and mountains of drugs. 

It’s so hard being grateful at this moment. That’s difficult for me to admit. Writing that for the world to see makes me feel like a phony. I’m supposed to always be put together — be uplifting, be happy, be the glue. 

I’m not. 

This has been exhausting, physically and mentally. It’s a type of mourning that is hard to describe, to wish you could dig up a past slate and hang on to it, never wishing to continue on this rollercoaster of loss. It feels unfair.
But life isn’t fair. No one ever said things would be even. Some are just dealt tougher cards than others. 

The only thing that breathed a bit of life back in my bones today was a special article. The National Eczema Association finally released a written work showcasing Topical Steroid Withdrawal — and I got to be a part of it! It brought a small pool of tears to my eyes. This has been a long, long, long time coming. To be acknowledged by the largest eczema group in the U.S. has given me hope that there will be more research, more understanding, and more compassion to this condition and community. We deserve it. We deserve it so very much.

The end of the journal prompt asked, “Can the stories live together in harmony? Or does the slate need to be swept clean?”

We can’t erase who we were; we can only work on who we want to be, even when we aren’t in control of the now. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t forge on through the many hardships of my past. My ‘selves’ won’t always match up, but they most certainly can live in harmony, some of my former slates giving me brief clarity and promise that the next version of myself will be glorious.

My skin these past two weeks

Love, Bri

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