I am sitting down at my computer in the calm morning of a post-hurricane day. I made myself a cup of tea from the last bag of a special box my kids brought me, even though I have temporarily lost my sense of taste. It’s ok. I know this tea and I know the love that went into getting it here. I know what love tastes like. The tea is slowly seeping inside a mug a friend gave me, adding to the sweetness. The birds are back and singing. The fan is humming and Lila is napping.
I want to write about “this” but I am not sure where it is going to land. What is the message? Is there a message? How much do I want to say?
It has actually been one of the themes of this chapter: how much to say, how much to talk about it. Where is the line between purging/healing and wallowing/perpetuating?
I think the point here is The Healing. The “what happens next” much more than “what happened then.” Because What Happens Next has already started and will probably continue for a good long time. Also, it is much more interesting.
A few months ago I decided to make a change. I decided to heal a part of my body that had gotten injured more than 4 decades ago during an act of violence. Immediately following the attack, I had made a silent pact with myself to forget about it. To not make a big deal.
Not making a big deal was a big deal in my family of origin.
My body did what it could to carry on and my mind wanted no part of knowing anything about how it went about it.
Time passed, babies came, and the years and the births asked my body to work harder to keep my “all is fine” narrative alive. They asked me to work harder, too. I normalized. I found ways. I got good at it.
A few times I looked into options and even explored a few. I dabbled. But I never followed through all the way, possibly not ready to face the poison or the antidote. I kept on keeping on.
And then, I don’t know… I moved to Mexico, I moved deep into nature. I slowed down a lot. I both started tolerating more and tolerating less.
A couple of years passed and recently my 60th birthday started to announce itself and do this whispering thing. Asking me questions. I told it that it was nothing but a number and that I felt alive and vibrant and healthy. It kept whispering, asking. “Are you sure?” it asked once while I was in the middle of one of my daily normalization sessions.
No, I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure I wanted more decades of this. My life was so good, why was I putting up with this? And also, what would it look like as I aged?
So I put on my big girl panties and with the unfailing support, love, and care of a beautiful-hearted man by my side, I went about the business of healing this.
Together we looked at options even when they were not convenient. We Peeked Behind Doors, I wrote, I asked my body - a lot. What came up as a certainty for me was that I could not heal violence with violence. There would be no knife involved in this process. Also, I wanted to be present. I would not get put to sleep. I would keep my voice, my feelings, and my me through whatever needed to happen.
I wanted safe, efficient, real, and as kind as I could find it.
Not shying away from considering options and asking the same questions over and over again, we made our way to what felt right to me and although several professionals told me it would not work, I committed to trying it.
On a Monday morning in mid-August, after getting on a plane and checking into a hotel, I received my first treatment. I am finding that Mexican doctors seem to be big on involving their patients in their process through the use of large flat-screen TVs. This was a Iot as I could simultaneously feel and SEE what was going on. And I mean SEE. I guess I wanted to be present and goodness, I was.
Once it was over I was wrapped in much support and love until a few days later I flew home. There I did a lot of talking to my body as it and I both went through the process of letting go. My heart joined the party and there was a lot of writing and a lot of being. It was not so bad physically and after that first trip, I felt that I had chosen the right path for me. I could see and feel the changes already. It was as though a quiet revolution was happening.
There have been two more trips and two more treatments. I am going back in a few weeks for what I hope will be the last one.
It has NOT been easy. There were about three weeks that were pretty darn bad, after the second treatment. Back home, I painted a lot, listened to This American Life, wrote, slept, cried, and tried not to lose hope that this was the right thing. My home held me and the jungle all around soothed me. The phone carried my friends’ voices and love.
The doctor had said it would take a month to feel better after this second treatment and he was right on. A month later I went back.
This last treatment has been gentle on me and I am now seeing, really seeing what life is going to be like, without this old injury talking to me daily. And you know what? It is so darn big. I am in awe daily. I had forgotten how it could be, how it used to be so many years ago. There is a mix of “What did I wait so long?” and “Thank you thank you thank you.” There is a sensation that is a blend of freedom and also renewed boundaries. It’s a heady mix.
There is grief. Grief for not having known how to take care of myself and for having abandoned me over and over again. For having listened to the wrong (if well-intended) advice of not making a big deal, ever - and for maybe not having had what I needed to pass on to my own daughter. This one hurts a lot. There is the fierce, fierce passion to pass it on to my granddaughter.
I think right now I am still in the messy stage of What Happens Next? The stage where a bunch of bits and pieces get dumped on a table, an altar of sorts, without a true sense of how they will fit together. But they will, oh they will.
And in the end, there will be a dance. The dance of Freedom, of Knowing, of Healing, of Celebrating, and of Trusting.
Of Trusting our voice, our NOs, our YESes, and our right to sometimes make a big deal. Trusting the timing too. Trusting our intuition to choose the right path of healing for ourselves even though experts may say otherwise and although it may be inconvenient. Trusting that love and support will carry us through and trusting that we are worth asking for them when we need them.
Trusting the trip, the journey, the not-knowing.
What Happens Next is unknown and I am excited to meet it. Away from the reminder, the story, the old, dusty story. Closer to me, to now, to LIFE.
SCARED OF THE SACRED