I have been in a dark time. For the past many months I have been living in a world of physical illness paired with spiritual and emotional struggle. Most of my days have been spent lying in bed wearing my pajamas and watching movies and HBO television on Netflix. I turned down note-taking jobs that would have provided a small boost to my bank account because I could not rely on my body’s ability to support me on a consistent basis. I dropped one of my classes for the same reason. While I was far from knocking on death’s door, the weakened state of my body over a prolonged period of time brought me face to face with the fragility and vulnerability of human life.
I fell into the darkness, down Alice’s rabbit hole, kicking and screaming the whole way. I was resisting the illness that attacked in symptomatic waves of intestinal terror. I did not have time to be sick, I did not have the energy to be sick, I did not have the money or resources to be sick. But, I was sick. After two months of discomfort, a diagnosis of intestinal parasites, IV fluids and blood tests I found myself in a state of panic every time I left my apartment. Paralyzed by the fear that I would be struck to my knees in a helpless heap while away from the safety of my home, anxiety rushed into the vulnerable spaces of my psyche. I was broken.
My doctor assured me that the medication would work, but that I would be worse before I was better and it would take months to eradicate all of my symptoms. The only thing I could do was surrender myself fully to the illness. I had to accept that I was sick. I had to accept that I was fragile. I had to accept that this body of mine has an expiration date. Hours were spent on the floor of my bathroom waiting for the nausea to pass, days were lost to emotional panic and exhaustion. Some days all I could do was sleep, other days I could not catch a wink no matter how worn out I was. I was sick if I ate, I was sick if I didn’t. I sank into the darkness and prayed that I would hear the voice of God or the voices of my ancestors. I wanted answers. I needed to know how to climb out of this hole. But, there was only silence and more dark. I let myself be sick. Only sick people can heal.
I didn’t think it would ever end. This body of mine is still not completely healed, but something has changed. Two weeks ago, I was putting myself to bed. My small medicine pouch was hanging on the bedpost. I whispered to the tobacco leaves inside the way my auntie taught me. I said, “My beloved ancestors, if you can hear me, please tell me what to do. How do I heal the layers of sickness inside me?” I wanted to hear about herbs and tea and doctors and medicine. Instead I heard and saw the word, “WRITE!” I should have picked up my pen in that very moment. I should have started writing and kept my pen moving no matter what. But, I didn’t. It wasn’t the answer I was looking for, so I chalked it up to my imagination and went on being sick. Then, I caught a terrible head cold and cough. Then, I walked into a wall bruising my arm and stubbing my toe at the same time. Then, I bruised my other arm when I accidently dropped my trash can into the trash compactor. Then, I ran into a door and re-bruised my first arm.
I picked up my pen and started writing. I am writing through the sickness. I am writing through the vulnerability. I am writing through the anxiety and panic attacks. I am writing through the fear straight into a brave and beautiful heart.