Tag Archives: Health

To MC

I got your email. Wrong cousin reaching out. And I can’t answer.

“Do you think people change?” I ask our cousin.
“Yes,” he replies.
“Do you think HE has?” I press.

Sometimes when it’s cold, I curl up and flashback to crawling on your floor.
I roll over and see your feet stomping down at my head.

“If you touch my things, I will slap you!” You told me.
“If you slap me, I will kill you,” I responded.

“How are you smiling while you tell me about this?” a friend asked. “You have a huge smile on your face while you talk about killing your cousin! It’s scary.”
“I didn’t even realize it,” I said. “I’m not happy about it. I think my body just reacts to ridiculousness with mirth. I was in a domestically violent situation. That’s ridiculous. I don’t think my body can think about that without reacting like it’s a joke.”

My biggest regret is not smashing your bottle of cologne on the floor. Sometimes I think about you wearing it, using it to get girls, and I feel scared and a little sick.

“He never apologized for it?” our cousin asked.
“He apologized the next day,” I said. “But he always does. And he always does it again. He reminds me of an abusive boyfriend who regrets his actions when he sees you bleeding, but still beats you up next week.”
“You know, I’ve heard that about him!” he said.
“And you’re still cool with this man?”

The best part of all of that was being able to leave. Having the resources and connections, and STRENGTH of will to get myself the fuck out of an abusive situation. And a year later, after the second rape, I left the country. This time, I’d been the one locking myself in a small living space in the cold. Still curled up on my side. That part doesn’t change.

“Leaving isn’t enough. You must stay gone.” Thank you, “Frida”.

We aren’t okay. We were, and you destroyed that. I can’t forgive you for it. Not out of hate, or spite, because I feel neither of those things for you. All that I feel, when I happen to think about you, is fear and sadness.

You were the first human long con I was aware of.

“maybe i’m being selfish again asking only for what i want. i’d like you to tell me what you want.”

What I want is for the past two years never to have happened. I want to be rape free, con free. I want to have a cousin I’m cool with, and only one dead. I want South Africa to be a haven, and Congo a conflict-free possibility.

That’s not how things work, though. You can’t erase the past; you can only learn from it and move forward. I can’t go back to an abuser. They always blame you for the abuse if you go back to it, and they never think about the intense emotional burden the abuser hurls onto you, even from across oceans.

What I want is for you to change. To listen to others. To control your anger. To reflect on yourself, your thoughts, your actions. To take responsibility for your life, your failures and successes. I don’t think you do any of that. I don’t think anyone makes you.

Your friends enable you. They don’t care if you’re a monster; they don’t care about what’s happening to your soul. I do.

I think the best care I can give to myself, and to you by extension, is not attempting to see you or speak to you. Maybe that way I can heal. Maybe that way you can finally be sparked into growth.

This is your sign.

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This Time

The third one is of a giant woman riding a giant leopard, with giant hair billowing around her head. Behind her is an eagle, swooping toward her, talons outstretched.

It isn’t attacking her. That’s what some people think.

She isn’t supposed to be me.

“She looks like you!” says a lady in the locker room.

“You don’t look like her,” my friend tells me.

“Cool,” I say. “That’s not what it’s supposed to be anyway. They aren’t supposed to exist. you don’t have leopards and bald eagles organically in the same place. The world wasn’t made for that. But my body was. And she isn’t real, but she exists anyway, and maybe that’s powerful.”

I can now pull myself up if I subtract 80 pounds. Last week it was 90, the week before that it was 110. I don’t know what’s changing. Most days I’m too tired to really work out, now that my day has been extended.

“I hope you’re making more money than Oprah, with how busy you are,” says the only other Congolese person in Flatbush.

“Je travaille plus pour l’humanité que pour l’argent,” je lui répond, but I’m not even sure if that holds. It sort of does. I’m happy not to have immediate financial worries, but I’m also terrified of getting cancer, or getting locked out, or breaking technology, or losing health insurance and having to pay for birth control again. So when it comes down to it, there are more lucrative things I could be doing if I believed in a future after four years.

I also wish I hadn’t picked this month to go back on bc. I wish I could know the reasons behind how I’m feeling at this moment. If it’s the administration, my own mental health, the changes in hormones, or the anniversary.

“I should apologize. I know I haven’t been a good friend, and I was supposed to make it up to you tonight, and I came so late we almost missed the concert,” she tells me on the train. “You must hate me. I bet you’re thinking, ‘Oh, this fucking bitch!’”

I don’t use that word. I look down and see the leopard’s paw poking out.

“I didn’t expect to see you out last night, even though I invited you,” I tell her, slowly. “So when you showed up, it was beautiful and amazing. I was so happy to see you because it was such a surprise. But tonight, when I needed you, and you knew I needed you, you sort of let me down. And it feels like things work so much better when I expect nothing from you, because then it can always be nice. But I don’t think I can count on you anymore.”

They ride away.

Five days later, the friendship is over. Apparently telling her the truth about my feelings was uncalled for. It’s wrong to say that I can’t count on her, she tells me, but I shouldn’t have expectations for her either. So, you agree with what I was saying? What? Oh…yeah. Whatever, it still shouldn’t have been said. She doesn’t need that in her life right now.

“What you have to understand,” he explains later, “Is that people want the truth but not really. You are a no hold bars kind of lady, but not everyone can handle that.”

“What I am JUST realizing,” I say, “Is that people really aren’t honest, but I always assume they are. I operate under the assumption that everyone is being 95% straightforward with their thoughts and feelings, just as I am. But everyone else just assumes I’m like them. So when I’m being honest and up front, they think I’m being shady and hiding things still. And if what I’m saying bluntly is harsh, they assume I’m much nastier underneath.”

“…Yeah, actually,” he agrees.

“But honestly, I think I’ll keep the vice,” I tell him. “I’m trying to spend as much time in reality as possible, and I don’t need already-toxic people dragging me away for their own sakes.”

It’s only ever been the most negative, the most toxic, the ones who stole the majority of my energy, who haven’t been able to handle my honesty. Who have left. The toxic ones, and you.

Were you toxic, Edward?

I don’t think so. I definitely think you unleashed a swath of demons into my life, I know The Man used you as a gateway, and too much of my energy got tied up into yours. But I’ve let it go. Or I’m still letting it go, and it gets better all the time, and I can feel myself getting harder. I just have to remind myself of that during this time of year.

But you definitely didn’t like my honesty, either. You didn’t like that I saw parts of you and pulled them to the surface.

Your sexuality. Your body negativity. Eating disorder. Drug problems.

Suicide attempt.

So you lied to me, a lot. And in the end, I believed you, because I wanted to. And it was so much worse when a jogger ran into the dead truth on the morning train tracks.

2016 was about being conscious of energy. 2017 is being mindful of time. Where is my time going, what am I doing with it, who am I spending it on, and Is It Being Wasted? I don’t have time to waste on people who will steal my energy. I don’t have time to waste with lies. I only have time for the truth, for understanding, for enlightenment, and for advancement. Shadows, go away.

Edward, come back.

I’m just kidding. I know you can’t.

Safety

To be an author. To put pen to paper and weave tales that transcend spaces and times. To create characters who are meaningful to others outside of your own world. It’s a feat. I’m in awe.

Sometimes, when I’m reading, I find too much of myself in a character. The wrong parts of myself, the scary ones. And I stop reading so much as watching, regarding what happens to the character I see as myself, wondering where the line comes that will separate us, wondering how much of my own life will go on to mirror the character’s fate. Sometimes I feel trapped within the pages of the story, even after I have closed my book, and I can’t help but look around for the author of my own life. Do authors write the way I do? Do they live inside their own heads so much that as they witness real life, it is rearranged in a romantically abstract, distant way? Are any stories purely fantastical, or are they merely recordings of how things are being seen? If the latter is the case, whoever is writing for me cannot be far away.

I don’t want to be an Uma. “Love Marriage”. V V Ganeshananthan. I remember why this book was so alarming to me. Eyes that see Other Worlds, that come with ears that hear Other Voices. When her character fell off the road into bushes and screamed, I screamed too. It didn’t matter that no one could hear me, or that no scratches showed up on me. I could feel them on my face.

“I want to know what’s going on inside your head,” he said, and I knew he wasn’t talking about the chess game.

“What’s the last thing you wrote about?” he asked later, as we walked around looking for his car.

I told him about the ghosts, the rape, the kiss on the forehead.

“That’s deep,” he said, and I let his words hang without agreeing. “Do you feel protected now?”

“No,” I told him. Never, I thought.

What I wanted to say:
There’s a boy at school who has severe behavioral problems, but he isn’t defiant when he doesn’t listen. He just lives in his own world. One teacher thinks he has autism. He definitely has trouble functioning with the group, and usually it seems like he isn’t there. But then you put a worksheet in front of him and he can do it, even if you’d swear the entire time he was staring out the window, he’d been ignoring you.

“He just needs to focus,” one teacher told me.
“He needs to believe that the world is safe enough for him to be sane,” I said.

When he was younger, he used to be fine. That’s what mom says, anyway. But then, he walked in on dad trying to drown mom in the bathtub, and it was over. He shut down.
That makes sense. Some truths are too much to deal with, so we cocoon ourselves away from them. He cocooned his mind, he was young enough not to feel guilty about doing it.

What I wanted to explain:
Sometimes, I think that’s what I do. I dull myself, so I won’t have to process things. Sometimes it makes me seem very ditzy, and not there. I’m a purposeful airhead. I have to be, or I’d never be able to leave my house, trust anyone, do anything. So I just can’t think, or process, too much, and I’ll get by.

What I wanted to point out:
I don’t know you. You are a stranger. You present as a man and teach chess in the Bronx, and that’s it. But I am alone with you. We are in a car, your car, and you are driving: I am dependent on you. You think I’m attractive, you would have asked me out if I hadn’t told you not to. You could rape me right now. Because the men who already have hurt me, have all known me. As a stranger, you owe me nothing. And if you hurt me, it would be my fault for going with you in the first place. That’s terrifying. Even if I recognize this, I will not process it, because the more I think about it, the closer I am to jumping into traffic.

What I actually said:
“No, but it’s still a nice thing to have. I’m not safe, but  know that someone in the world cares about me.”

He nodded. Dropped me off. I made it to my next stop without incident, without attack, without Other Voices or paralysis.

PCOS Doesn’t Give a Shit about Body Love

I’m hungry. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling, because for the past four weeks my only assured meals have been breakfast and dinner, and I’ve had mild hunger pangs in between. It’s just for a different reason. That hunger was bearable, because I always knew that in a few hours I would have something marvelous to eat, and if things got really bad I could buy a snack. Chapatis and lollipops for KSH10, y’all!

This time, I know that in a few hours I won’t be able to partake in as much of the marvelousness. At my next meal, instead of getting to go crazy and enjoying myself, I’ll get to cut back and watch others enjoy themselves. I can’t really snack in the meantime, either. Oh, I can have all the fruit I want, but fruit is expensive. “Have all the fruit you want” really means “eat a couple pieces of fruit today so that there’s still fruit tomorrow, and then just drink water and pretend to be full until dinner.”

I’m on a diet. It’s not by choice.

I have grown to hate visits to my endocrinologist. Not that I’m not supremely grateful to even have an endocrinologist in the first place. I’m thankful that my parents have jobs that give them health insurance, thankful that I’m young enough to still be covered by their health insurance, and thankful that their health insurance still covers birth control (sort of). But going to see the woman, who holds the only hopes of my having somewhat normal hormones and possibly having kids one day, is not a fun experience. Mainly because at some point, I know I’ll be weighed, and her reaction to my weight will not be good.

I’m stepping on the scale, and it comes to 167.5. I’m pretty content with this because at this point last year, I would’ve guessed my weight to be 168. Technically, I’ve lost half a pound (it must’ve been the dancing) since I last checked myself, but she hasn’t seen me in a while. The last time she saw me was right after first semester freshman year, when the freshman 15 was real and I found myself at 160. To her, this is serious. My BMI is a whopping 25.1% or some shit like that. In the four years since I’ve started seeing her, I’ve gained about 40 pounds. I’m not overly concerned (“And why would you be?” my friend tells me, “Like 20-30 pounds of that went to your boobs and your butt!”), and ask her if the BMI scale takes body type and muscle into account. I can’t help but feel that I’m being compared to some flat-chested, flat-assed twig of a girl, basically who I was before I stopped constantly playing soccer and started taking birth control, someone I don’t particularly want to be again.
“No,” she tells me. “It doesn’t take stuff like that into account…but in your situation, that doesn’t matter. Someone with PCOS needs to be vigilant when it comes to managing their weight. You don’t want to get diabetes, or have a heart attack.”

Now I’m paying more attention, for two reasons. First of all, I wasn’t aware until just now that PCOS was a definite for me. I’ve seen pictures of girls with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and I’m definitely not as big as most of them. Also, once birth control regulated my periods, I figured I was home free. Everything’s flushing itself out on schedule; I’m healthy and fertile; it’s all good, was kind of my thinking. But apparently it isn’t good at all, and as I look over the packet of symptoms and things to look out for, I realize that child-bearing is not my main problem. (That’s enough of a worry, let me tell you. Despite the fact that women are capable of many feats, bla bla bla, the ability to bring forth life is still one of our main selling points. I’ve also just spent four weeks with people who referred to women as vessels. Imagine if they’d known how close my vessel is to being broken? Where would my value go?)
There are also some real health concerns. It’s like the heart problems and miscarriages and various syndromes of all my relatives collected and dumped themselves into this one this one thing that sucks. And the thing that puts me at increased risk to fall into everything is weight gain.
“Carbs are the devil,” my endocrinologist is saying, among other things. She offers me what seem to be diet pills and I turn them down. For now.

We have company over. There are crescent rolls on the table, right in front of me. I love crescent rolls! There’s butter right next to them. I love butter! And I love my curves! And I don’t want to lose them, and I want to eat the Twizzlers in my room, as well as the giant chocolate bar I brought back with me (chocolate is better overseas), and the Pop Rocks that my mom surprised me with right before my appointment. And I don’t particularly want to start running again, or do much more than the same basic abs and pushups routine I’ve been doing. I have no motivation to change at all. Except maybe that I don’t want to die.

It’s just weird looking at people of all sizes. How did everyone’s bodies get to be the way they are? Is anyone else concerned about their size, their weight, not for aesthetic reasons, but for health? It’s not fair, I think. I take better care of myself than some people. No one’s pressuring them, except for maybe themselves. I wonder if every fat person’s doctor tells them they need to lose weight. I wonder how they respond. How they feel.
I remember when I was underweight. I remember the stress I went through, trying to gain 10 pounds. Now I need to lose 10 pounds, to start. I wonder how many bodies I’ll have had by the time I die. Maybe I’ll keep this one and die sooner. Maybe I’ll be a twig again, and live longer. Maybe I’ll get rock-hard abs, and then turn into a bodybuilder(unlikely). It shouldn’t matter. I should have the same mind regardless of the shell I’m living in, but now more than ever it’s feeling like our shells are important.

It doesn’t matter, though. PCOS doesn’t give a fuck about my inner musings.

Goodbye, crescent rolls. Hello, salad.
Mmmm salad.