The other day somebody asked me, "What is it that inspires you to blog?"
Usually, when people ask me questions like that, I have no idea what to say. It's all so complicated and simple at the same time, and honestly, I don't know as if I truly believe at this point that anybody really cares why I blog.
But this time, it took me just a moment to think about it, and then the answer came flowing out, like a race horse, confident and sure, and full speed ahead. I was not used to answering such an exposed answer the way I did, and I tried all the old tricks to make my mouth stop talking, but that race horse was going for the win--there was not stopping her.
An oddly enough, as I write these words, I am not grimacing in horror as I usually do when retelling stories of my loose tongue. For once in my life, I am smiling, eager, to share.
I love to turn you on...
I've struggled my entire life with sleeping too much. As a child, getting me out of bed could take as much as an hour, and after school, I would come straight home and fall asleep, many times until the next morning.
I was taken to doctors and yelled at and talked to about my "problem." Nobody could figure out what the hell was wrong with me--and eventually, my 'problem' was written off as laziness. And in a migrant family that valued hard work as a way to prove loyalty and assimilation into U.S. culture, that 'laziness' was not a good thing, not by far. It was something to be ashamed of--something that literally proved a fatal character flaw. I couldn't be a real Mexican and be lazy. It just wasn't possible. So what the hell was I, if I wasn't a Mexican?
The thing is, in all these discussions, in all the yelling and screaming and berating, in all the trips to the doctor, not one person asked me "what else is going on with your life?"
I don't think that I would have told them. Even back then, I knew something was wrong with more than my body--my mind didn't work the way other people's brains seemed to work, my heart didn't feel the same thing others did.
While other girls giggled over the roundness hidden underneath the front of a male models jeans, I was fighting the desire to point out that I didn't really much *care* what was hidden under those jeans. I was more interested in the way lace peeked out of women's shirts, the way soft round dents formed in women's upper thighs when they sat down. Trouble was, I grew up in super religious, super small town Mid West--and there was not even a *word* for what I was thinking about, except maybe "freak."
And that was just the tip of the "things I knew better than to talk about" iceberg. There was the daily bullying that didn't stop until I was in high school, daily abuse by a trusted person in my life, immobilizing insecurity, and next to no support structures for just about anything I did or wanted to participate in.
There was also the fact that for some reason, I slipped into really dark moods where the only way to for me to survive was to crawl into a dark cave and not come out for days, or even weeks at a time. I started skipping classes more and more often--not to go out partying or smoke some weed--but to sit in the quiet of a distant bathroom students never used. To hear the silence and take deep breaths, and finally finally think.
But nobody knew that about me, because fuck if I was going to share my secrets. I knew better.
And although I could go on about the reasons why I knew better, for now, I'll just leave it at that.
In the middle of a bath...
In the middle of a bath I call your name...
So all of those things--cultural belief in hard work saving the day, bullying, abuse, dark cave days/weeks--added to constant exhaustion and body aches all came together to form the private bfp, the bfp that was never shown in public, the bfp that was kept a secret, the bfp that even dear friends didn't really know to much about, although my best friend suspected existed.
And while I was younger, that was ok. It was not easy to keep the public and the private bfp separated, but I was strong and tough, and full of the hard stubborness of youth.
Then I had my first child. And my second one came right after that. And the aging, depleted, always exhausted body broke down. What had always been a shaky memory turned into what seemed like early onset of Alzheimer's. Recall of simple words was near impossible and friends and family soon began to finish sentences for me because I just couldn't remember the word I wanted to say.
Chronic exhaustion turned into debilitating fatigue. And yet, for some reason, I couldn't sleep more than one or two hours without waking up. And eventually when I woke up, my mind began to race so much, I couldn't fall back asleep for hours at a time.
My body ached so badly, I began to think before I got out of my chair--did I really need to get up yet? Could I wait to get up? What would be the best way to get up? Where could I sit back down again? How long would I have to be up before I could sit down again?
Sometimes, the only thing that could get me out of a chair was me setting goals: two minutes, two minutes to make it up the stairs and back down again. Just two minutes, and then you can rest again.
As hard as I tried, I could no longer keep the personal bfp separate from the public bfp. Eventually, the private bfp was so sore, so unable to think clearly, so exhausted, the public bfp went out less and less. At times, the only thing that made it so that the public bfp could even get out of the house was big time sugar consumption or guilt.
Because yes, through this all, I felt guilty. I never asked for help. I went to plenty of doctors, but never once mentioned my little problem with exhaustion and feeling tired. There were many many reasons for this--but the two biggest were that 1. It's my fault I feel this way, I'm fat, I never exercise consistently, all they're going to tell me is that I need to lose weight and I already know that so why bother going? and 2. I don't really have a problem anyway, outside of being lazy. I was just too lazy to exercise, I had no ability to commit to anything, I had no self-control, I was lazy lazy lazy. And who tells a doctor, "I'm suffering from being extremely lazy and I don't really know what to do about it,"?
And so I felt guilty, always always guilty--I put too much of a burden on other people, my chronic laziness took advantage of people who loved me, I didn't do my part, and thus, I didn't really deserve much to exist, right?
In the middle of a cloud...
In the middle of a cloud I call your name...
W* got a really great job recently--and his job, along with my new job, allows me for the very first time in my life to 1. move out of the lower working economic class and 2. feel fairly confident that even if my health insurance doesn't cover something, we can afford to pay the cost to make it better.
Things are not sunshine and roses economically at this point. We've had to pay three months worth of rent three pay checks in a row, which means money is still a bit tight. And just yesterday W*'s car broke down, requiring hundreds of dollars worth of work.
But even while we are still struggling, the struggle isn't quite a stifling. For the first time in years, I'm not terrified of the winter season--we can actually afford to keep the heat on a normal temperature.
And I've been able to go to a doctor. And not just go to a doctor, but leave bad doctors and shop around for good ones--ones that are willing to partner with me in caring for my health rather than dominate me or get through me because it's a long day.
The ability to go to a decent doctor couldn't have come at a better time. My life has been closing in on me, sometimes nearly killing me with it's closeness. Desperation ripped away at my always nervous mind--was I really condemned to lie on a couch the rest of my fucking life?
As test results started to come in, three major things popped up. ADD, hypothyroidism and clinical depression.
But the only reason these diagnoses were made was because for the first time in my life, on my second visit to my new doctor, I shared some of my dark secrets with her. And then on the next visit to her, I shared a bit more--and then I shared a bit more, until all the fears and problems and secrets I'd ever had were lying on the floor in front of my fabulous doctor, who fortunately, was up to the task of sorting everything out.
It was desperation that made me do it. Another dear friend of mine who happens to be a doctor got a panic stricken email and then a near hysterical phone call from me because I wasn't sure I could trust this doctor, but I knew knew knew that I was at the breaking point. I couldn't stay alive and continue living the way I was. I knew it, and so for me, the inability to trust my doctor was literally a matter of life and figurative death.
My friend talked me through my panic, and after about a week of deep breathing, I finally called my doctor and set up more appointments.
It was on the third appointment when she looked me straight in the face and said simply, "I'm so sorry that happened to you," that the flood of secrets came tumbling out. It was sitting in the car after that appointment that the flood of tears let loose.
My love will turn you on...
I'm not really ready yet to talk about the steps I've taken/am taking to help myself. Suffice to say, I went through an incredibly debilitating period of mourning--I've lost almost six years of my life to ill health. I almost lost my life to it. How much did I miss? What did I miss? What will I never get back again, with my kids, with my ever patiently impatient W*? It's a devastating thing, to realize that the thing that nearly killed you, the thing that took away nearly a quarter of your life, didn't have to happen.
But as I opened the windows from my period of mourning, a realization began to unfold in front of me.
I just faced down death and came out alive. And I came out alive because of me. Because there was something good, and honest, and true and necessary and vital and strong and brave about me.
Even in my most closed off, achy, bone weary exhausted moments--that something, that good, honest, true, necessary, vital, strong and brave thing in me knew I was worth protecting. I was worth fighting for, I was worth living for--I was worth it.
And what kind of bad ass tuff mami was I, that I fought tooth and nail for 34 years, even after I had my ass knocked to the floor sometimes on an hourly basis, to stand back up again, and give it just one more go?
I love to turn you on...
I look at that bad ass tuff mami as existing separately from me in many ways. She is a different woman, a woman that, oddly enough, needs a damn rest. She's spent 34 years fighting, and believe me, exhaustion is a perpetual battle that takes place on every pore, in every muscle fiber, in every cell of your body. That woman is tired, needs a rest, needs to put her fists down, and get a two day long full body massage.
The thing that excites me is, for the first time, I am strong enough to do this for her.
For the first time, I have the *energy* to love this woman in an open and honest way--to rub her back, soak her fists, kiss her hips and her thighs, massage her belly until finally, finally, she relaxes and laughs with pleasure at the feeling of warm well oiled hands moving tingling energy up and down her core. For the first time, she and I can think about each other--and smile. She always knew I was in there somewhere, she just had to keep me safe until I was strong enough to come out. I always knew she was strong enough to keep me safe--that I could count on her.
She and I have a history together, and it's a good one. One, that like Sixo and Paul D, I know completes me in a way no other can.
And like Sethe, that woman and I, we stare at the truth and for the first time, dare to believe.
We are our best thing. We are.
So what is it that inspires me to blog?
That woman that I was--the fighter, the tuff mami, the survivor that is too busy surviving to take a mind blowing women's studies class. The woman whose brain is so intelligent, so insightful, but is too tired to show it because she worked all day and then got beat up when she got home. The Mexicana who really is a Mexicana but aches too much to take on an entire community and so holds her truth close to her keeping it safe until she is stronger. The woman who knows something is wrong but was actively denied the language to name what it is that is wrong. The woman who keeps fighting anyway, even though she can't see, hear, feel or smell her oponent.
Some how that fighter, that tuff mami, always finds a way to what she needs--and maybe, just maybe, one night after all the kids are asleep and she has just a moment before she falls asleep, she'll read my blog and realize that she's not alone. That she's not the only one who knows she's smart, sexy, intelligent beyond all reason, strong, loving and worth it. I know it too, and so do more women than she realizes (and that's just a few of them!).
Every woman has the right to know she's not alone, that she's not crazy, that her 'problem' is really what makes her the necessary and desirable human being that she is. Every Mexicana, every Chicana has the right to know that she's not lazy, and nobody but her gets to decide who she is.
Every beat up, achy, exhausted, cave dwelling, closeted queer, sad mami has the right to know--somewhere out there, in the middle of the night, someone is thinking of her, and smiling with pure pleasure.