I’m writing this from the middle of it—somewhere close to the bottom, I hope—but I won’t publish until I’m at least far enough through that I can look behind me. So if you’re reading this and it seems heavy and you feel like I need professional help or as though you must urgently tell me something to rescue me, know that I appreciate you and also that I’m okay.
If I’m not okay then I won’t publish this. It will be published posthumously, by either Gabe or Beth, whichever one finds this funnier first.
I’m having what I can only assume is some kind of long form anxiety attack. I say that I can only assume because frankly, I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but the paramedics and the emergency room doctors say it’s not my heart.
They were very confident when they said this. The way an adult might be confident to a child on a sinking ship.
Or the way people who know what they’re talking about are confident.
Who can say, really. Not me.
I fainted almost a week ago after several days of heart palpitations and since then I have not felt better. And on paper I understand that it was something like a perfect storm: not enough nutrition, a change in exercise (meaning… doing it), some pretty intense therapy, a couple specific traumas being touched on at the same time, possibly even a mild virus my kid had and BAM.
Lights out. And to add insult to unconsciousness, it happened in the middle of an event decidedly not about me or my problems. I was attending as a support for someone else and then I collapsed. Fan-fucking-tastic.
So I’m writing this, a week later, from under a weighted blanket with my comfort food nearby after having to leave my van in the parking lot of my kids’ speech therapy office because it almost happened again and I couldn’t drive home. And despite allllll the tools I’ve gathered in therapy (and from the hallowed internet), I cannot convince my body it is not dying.
I can say out loud what I’m afraid of and I can imagine another version of me talking to this one in a calm, compassionate tone that is very unworried and understands that this is not the first time my body has felt these rather specific and terrifying things over an extended period of time.
But this version of me, who is experiencing it, cannot listen. I can hear and I can nod, but I cannot make myself feel okay. I cannot make the thoughts stop. I cannot make my heart slow down. I cannot lift the panic from my chest or the tingling in my head. And all of this is more frustrating than I have words for.
I just looked up the word “frustrating” to see if it really is the right one and a better synonym is discouraging. It is the opposite of imbuing courage. It is cutting it down. Dis-ing it. If you will.
I have done everything I thought I was supposed to do—I’m in therapy, I’m trying to be more embodied, I’m paying attention to my capacity, I’ve rekindled a particular relationship with God, I eat good food, I’m exercising (sort of), drinking water.
Still. Here I am. So I cried nice and hard, good and long (that’s what she said) until my sobs turned to sighs. And then I watched a movie with my family. And went to bed and started writing this.
My body feels a bit broken right now. Or just… vulnerable. A bit weak.
I grew up in a house on a lake. Well, a cabin. Some might call it a large shack. It was not up to code and certainly not designed for a family to live in year round. But we did—16 years round all together—and I didn’t care that the doors let in a draft or that the roof leaked and I was rather fond of the hump in the floor next to the fireplace. It was my home. I loved it.
And it’s how my body feels right now, which is a comfort. A little drafty maybe, a little leaky. But it’s my home. And I love it.
It’s a few months later now.
Those symptoms lasted about 8 weeks. Which is relatively short for me. It’s not the first time something like that has happened and while it’s hard for me not to think I did something wrong to bring it on, I’ve also been given the gift of another perspective.
Perhaps it is so that my body—my home—is an active agent acting on my behalf. Like the house in Encanto, maybe it is full of magic and will do whatever it can to help me and protect me, even sacrifice itself to bring my attention to what really matters.
What matters, my beloved Beth said to me the day I fainted, is me.
I have much to say about this… I am waking up to the fact that for my entire life my body has been trying to communicate with me and I—a person enamored, enthralled, entangled in the art and necessity of language—still don’t fully understand what it’s trying to say.
And I don’t want to rush to conclusions. I’m still listening.
What I will say is that I am grateful—beyond grateful, I’m not sure there is a word for what I feel—for my body’s allegiance. I have felt betrayed by it, but I’m seeing now that it has been when I’ve betrayed myself that my body signals the alarms. When I have not behaved as if I matter, my body is faithful to remind me that I do.
I am also grateful—beyond grateful—for the people in my life who agree with this and insist on it, too. For the embarrassment of vulnerability met with an embarrassment of riches in the form of their kindness, their patience, their understanding, their laughter, their hours-long phone calls and flowers at my door.
This latest episode was more public than other times have been and I think I expected people to be annoyed with me. To roll their eyes at me. I expected dismissal and instead was brought in, to warm hugs and belonging.
I don’t know how to end this because actually, this isn’t over. I have a lot to learn and I’m eager. So I won’t end it, I’ll just pause for now.