I have spent much time in tears lately. I made it to the end of the school year, and that was a major relief. Sadly, my illness is relentless. Oh, how I wish I got to write about other things! But, this is what I have, so I'm writing it down. Well, at least every few days or weeks. I have no bandwidth for writing these days; or, more accurately, I have no taste for what I have to write. And, I'm just plain exhausted. TV is more attractive. Mindless is attractive. But, I want to be known, and I want to keep writing. Sharing helps me do that. Here is a journal entry of sorts that I wrote. I will post it in three parts:
I keep thinking and thinking about this idea that I can’t crack open. Bottled up. Clamped down. Hatches officially battoned. Like a limpit, a barnacle. I remember scratching at a barnacle on a concrete wall. I wanted to hold it, but you can’t get them free from their anchor without crushing them a bit. The sharp pieces of its own shell stabs into the gooey mess that is their inner self. I always regret it. I also always regret digging fast with my fingers after a clam. I almost always break them. With imagery like this, why wouldn’t I be afraid of cracking?
There are other ways to crack, though. The first and best way I can think of is to be the hard sugar on a creme brulee. Then, there’s the childhood version: the chocolate shell of a Cadbury creme egg. Cracking nuts, pistachios or hazelnuts especially, is always worthwhile. Detectives finally “crack” the case, and things get better. People can begin to recover and heal. “Break down” feels analogous to this cracking. “She finally broke down and told us... “ “He finally cracked.” There can be good or ill on the other side of breaking open.
My illness forces me to continually decide to hang on, to be strong, to push through. My physical health is a constant source of stress. I get these mini panic attacks that last for a ½ hour sometimes because my brain doesn’t work right. Sometimes, my digestive system goes haywire. I have learned that there is nothing I can do to stop these things from happening, but I can make them worse. I have to lock it down. I have to get control of my thoughts, and, as best as I can, control my emotions so that I don’t feed the panic. I cannot have caffeine, or spice, or sugar. I have to control my inputs to mitigate my symptoms. It’s all I can do sometimes to not let the scenario play out in my mind. “I’m going to pass out right here on this playground. They’ll have to call an ambulance, and the children will all be freaking out.” I have to control my positions, my energy output, so I will not exacerbate my symptoms, make my heart beat too fast, or lose my breath, or faint. When I freak out at my children for being foolish, or running too far ahead of me, it’s not just because I’m frustrated that they aren’t being more careful or afraid they might embarrass me (though those things are definitely in play). I am worried that they will cause me to break out of the confines I know I must maintain to keep my body from completely breaking. I’m always trying to protect myself and also them. It is exhausting. Sometimes I am afraid I will crack.
The stress of all this keeps me harassed around the clock. I have come to see every circumstance as a threat to my safety and the safety of my family. My emotional life is deeply affected as well. Already, I have been a girl, and now a woman, who keeps it all under control so as not to be a burden. But, doing this takes a lot of effort because I have a natural flair for the dramatic. I feel things deeply. I see this now more than ever as I watch my little children continually erupt with emotions of all kinds. They remind me of myself; they just haven’t yet learned to people-please well enough to keep that stuff locked-down. For as long as I can remember, openly crying has made me feel so stupid and like I have failed at something. Now, as an adult, I see the value of just letting the emotion make it’s way through me, to cry, to be unabashedly excited and enthusiastic, or to be angry without sinning. It’s so hard though. So. Hard.