Thank you to everyone who loved on me as I shared my experience of losing a sister. I did walk a little lighter today, getting that out onto the keys, off of my heart and on to yours. I appreciate you absorbing it and being willing to know me.
There’s more, of course.
I’ve always had a ‘sensitive tummy.’ It’s sexy, I know. I’m very intolerant of lots of foods and times of day to eat/not eat, drinking wacks me out, and also stress. This past year, after ruling out scary stuff, I was diagnosed with being a nearly 40 year-old white lady (IBS) and so I’m now taking an even bigger assortment of rich lady candy (vitamins and probiotics).
The N.P. I talked to about it was like, ‘When you think of something you forgot to do, does it ever bother your stomach?’ and I immediately could feel the ping, a few fingerbredths to the right of my belly button. Sometimes that ping bores backward all the way to my spine, depending on how big the thing I forgot to do. Sometimes my whole abdomen blows up.
Often, the thing I forgot to do is more like ‘haven’t figured out accounting yet,’ ‘or social media’ or ‘marketing’ or ‘friendship’ ‘haven’t saved our business from failing today,’ ‘haven’t saved a life,’ ‘haven’t been a good friend,’ ‘haven’t fixed homelessness yet,’ ‘haven’t saved all the kids from adults who hurt them yet,’ ‘haven’t figured out how to fix the adults who hurt the kids,’ ‘haven’t been good enough,’ ‘haven’t been brave enough,’ ‘haven’t been disciplined enough,’ ‘haven’t been enough.’
The shame piles up on me and burns a hole in me. Into my gut, into my back, into my throat. It chokes me and hurt me, and I’m only just now figuring out that it’s anxiety and depression and lies, and that I can’t trust it. I can only try. I can only be who I am. And that has to be good enough. For me.
I wonder how much of this sense that I’m failing comes from the fact that I couldn’t stop my sister from being sick, from dying. I couldn’t stop the pain that my family experienced, as much as I tried, as much as I desperately wanted to.
I still get stomach pains when I think about coming home from middle school and seeing a thermometer on the kitchen counter of my childhood house. It meant there was a fever, which could mean severe, acute illness to the immunocompromised, chronically ill kid in the house. I couldn’t stop the germs. I couldn’t stop the fever. I hated that thermometer. I couldn’t change anything and I loathed my helplessness. I swallowed my anger for it, my fear of it, and what it all meant, and it all stayed in my belly, hot and painful. I couldn’t let it out, scream at it, tell it off, because it wouldn’t do any good, and because an outburst from me was not what anyone needed.
So, I think that as a kid, I built a new part of me internally to hold that hot pain. Recently, as I’ve been evaluating myself, trying to clean out the cobwebs in my systems, I found it, and realized how unhealthy it is. I don’t want to accept hot pain as punishment for the things I’m blaming myself for, I don’t want to swallow my feelings into my viscera, I want to deal with it, fix what I can, forgive what I can, send the rest away.
That’s what I’m working on. And eating more fiber.