It’s so absurd for me to jump back into my blog and write about where I am now without mention of where I have been. I’m just going to have to be absurd.
I haven’t felt the need to write for quite some time. I have felt a lot of “should” write, but no “need” to write… until this week. This week, I have been almost guided by unseen hands to write words I didn’t intentionally think of, to express feelings, ideas, and thoughts that I might not have acknowledged otherwise. I have been hesitant to put the words down. In order to write what I feel the need to write I have to mention some illness which doesn’t really go hand in hand with a professional in the wellness field. I have to confront some ugly truths about myself and about my interaction with others.
It won’t be pretty.
So why do I do it? Elena Brower posted just today about the Mindful Slap of speaking our shame. Now, I don’t feel any shame about what I’m experiencing, but the part about owning it, about admitting it, about talking about it and no longer allowing my cells to hold the power of a secret, of a truth, of a pain… well, it was the invitation I needed to my own catharsis. Big stuff. So, why do I want to express it here? Why do I want to pour myself open? Why do I want to write about my own pain for the world to see? Probably because it hurts less when it’s open and raw than it does when it’s hidden and suffocated.
I have two kidneys. Fact. I have one kidney that is shining and gorgeous and powerful and clean and impressing. Fact. I have a kidney that is infected. Fact. I have a kidney that is resistant to treatment. Fact. I have one kidney that is a rock star. Fact. I have another kidney that is, at this moment, a rock. Fact.
I am 35 years old. Fact. I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a partner, a writer, a teacher, a mentor. Fact. I am scared, insecure, vulnerable, uncertain, malleable. Fact. I am strong. I am wise. I am powerful. Fact. I am meek. I am small. I am broken. Fact. I am a survivor. I am human. fact. I am human. Fact. I am human. FACT.
The kidneys serve as the filter for my body. They take the blood and filter out nutrients and water for my body to thrive on and then remove all the toxins and the waste that my body doesn’t need, all those substances and particles from the outside that won’t serve my body, and send them out of my system. The kidneys are bouncers at the exclusive club that is my body. There are two doors to that club and the other door is guarded not by an organ, but by my spirit, my soul, my intuition … by me. As in any profession, when one part doesn’t do the job, the other part has to pick up the slack.
I have been a really shitty bouncer. Fact.
My poor kidney!
I am the youngest of 3 children. My siblings are much older than I am. I grew up being the “baby,” the one who was taught, the one who was told what to do, what to think, what to believe, what to say. Regardless of my age, of my social status, I have always been “the child.”
That sticks with a person.
Lately I had been feeling condescended to, taken advantage of, told “what to do,” disrespected, lectured, parented, all without my desire, need, or request. I spent some time being angry, feeling taken advantage of, feeling used, feeling overlooked, judged, categorized, manipulated, and smothered. For weeks, I found myself getting all up in arms, ready at any moment to lash out and say “YOU CANNOT TREAT ME LIKE THAT!” I felt as though these other people in my familial, social, economic, business, and educational circles were treating me as inferior, as an understudy, as an insignificant. I began to feel as though I needed someone’s permission to have feelings, to be sick, to take time for myself. I began to feel as though I needed someone else’s opinion to tell me how I should feel, how I should act, how I should be.
NO ONE told me any of this. No one MADE me feel any of this. NONE OF THIS WAS TRUE.
My filter was clogged. My filter was dirty. My filter was broken.
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.
At the very depths of my sickness, the moment when I was driven to urgent care in the most vulnerable postion possible (go ahead, find a more vulnerable position than in child’s pose in a tiny little nightdress in the backseat of your mother’s car during the hour that school busses are driving tweens home. I swear, some 11 year old boys went home with an unplanned education,) it occurred to me: my kidney was damaged, but it was my brain, my heart, and my soul that were sick.
Did I feel that other people in my life treated me like a child? Yes. Did I hate it? Yes. Did I do anything about it? No. Did I, in fact (gasp) teach them to treat me like that? yeeeeeeessssssssss. Did I feel like I needed someone’s approval to make decisions for myself? Did I feel like I needed someone’s permission? yeessssssssss. Did anyone else ever feel like it was their job to educate me? To give me permission? To approve of me? Nnnnn ….., well, maybe. Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. I repeat: IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Enter the filter.
Somewhere along the line I forgot that I have the ability to choose. I forgot that I have the ability to say YES or NO or MAYBE or I DON’T KNOW or LET ME THINK ABOUT IT or to ignore things all together. I forgot that I have the ability to take what I like and leave the rest. I forgot that I have the right and the responsibility to be my own filter. I hadn’t used my filter for so long that it became clogged, dirty, and broken. I was the worst kind of bouncer ever – I let everyone in and never charged a cover. And I got ripped off as result.
But then, just as soon as I realized it all, the tears fell, the filter began to clear, and the clog in my throat that blocked the word “No” melted away. I woke up. I began to remember who I was before I got so lost, before, as Leonard Cohen so brilliantly illustrates “she cut my hair.” And I spoke. I said, “No.” I decided that, while I cannot control how others treat me, how others see me, I can most certainly control and filter how I treat myself, how I see myself, how I speak about myself.
I cannot control others. I cannot make others pure and clean. I cannot control the content that comes to me. But I CAN control what I let in, what I allow to pass through the filter, what I accept. I can be my own healthy kidney.
And every breath she drew was Hallelujah!
I am a work in progress. Fact. I will make mistakes. Fact. I will sometimes make mistakes, get mired in the muck and lose my ground. Fact. I will rise again, I will find my voice. Fact. I will remember. I will find myself. I will grow. Fact. I will be my own filter. I will be my own filter. I will be my own filter.