Tuesday, December 20

i was seen // hangover diaries

When I was little and sick, my mum would fetch me a snuggly quilt, make perfectly crisped toast, sit by my bed and pat my back so soothingly that one day I would try to emulate that exact motion for my own young. Having your mother sitting there is the gold standard of being unwell, and it's harder to find once you grow up. You're so seen and loved in your pain when you're small. Symptomatically alone, but that's where the alone stops dead. There's no emerging from your illness and being asked "where were you? Oh you were in your room with a fever for three days, I didn't know." Nope, she's seen every limping trip to the toilet, and passed you water the whole time.

But now I'm grown, and no one is patting my back.

My cushion is damp. I have watered a lot of cushions and pillows these eight years, preserved them in salt. I don't soak them with gushing waterfalls anymore, because shock and grief have mutated into sober familiarity, a mellower, gentler beast. I sometimes think it's unnecessary that it still trickles out...like there is a pool behind my eyes called 'chronic pain' which ought to be empty by now. I cry the exact same tears, the cause is unaltered, and the emotions have long been acknowledged and disected. My pool seems to have a refill mechanism when I'm lying quietly, and my body is raging ungratefully that I participated in life outside the home. How dare I. I was once asked, "but can't you use less energy when you're out? Tone it down?" No. I can't. It tumbles out, my small supply, and I watch by in trepidation, powerless to gain more power, or prevent loss of power. Powerless to prevent my own suffering.

The droplets are salty, but the salt isn't bitter.

The droplets are more, this is disgustingly uncomfortable, as usual, as expected. It's just as I knew it would be. It's identical.

No one can see into the misfunctioning cells, muscles, sense of balance during the time or afterwards. It's in the dark recesses of me. I can tell them, but it's so dreary and morose I can barely be bothered, so I will just feel it myself. If I'm not seen by anyone in this time, if no one can imagine my pain or view it, let alone cure it, how alone I am. How nobody I am in this moment. I must lie and wait, wait till it eases, invisible, feeling helpless and dispensable...but for my all knowing, all seeing, sky painting, language making, human weaving, gift giving God. So I am seen, I am not forgotten. I am as legitimate and valid as a mother's sick child.

This thought is warm and luminous.

On my porch this hungover December, hungover from festivity-x-suffering, sat a large woven basket with my name written on it. I unwrapped a large sheet of fabric encasing the contents to find no ordinary pre-packaged hamper. It was filled with home-made cake I could eat, home baked cookies, and crackers, and hummus, and bars. Sparkling water, tea, soap, berries, every conceivable festive, delicious and healthy thing in sweet pottles. It contained every special treat on the menu to those with sensitivies, many un-buyable. It was a bottomless pit of seriously thoughtful time consuming gifts, brimming with every thing I hadn't shopped for and hadn't baked and wasn't going to.

The note was from the mamas in the group I don't go to. One of the harder things all year was seeing and knowing that women with babies were meeting in groups and I couldn't manage to because - well, I had to nap twice a day and it fell during group times, and if I used energy seeing people I couldn't make it through to dinner time. The usual complicated trickle down of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The note said that they dearly loved me. They barely know me, they haven't seen me enough. I have been missing from their times together, they met dozens of times times, and I tagged along twice. They're talking about the verb - to love.

To extravagently love someone who has done nothing for you.

It would be easier to make a huge handmade hamper for a person they had grown fond of all year, but no.

That hamper said: You are so seen. You are no outcast.

It was the most overwhelmingly golden standard, in adulthood - love, because they also know the "you did nothing for this, but I love you" kind of warm luminous love.