For the past week or so, I’ve been feeling a lot better. The metaphorical knife in my leg is gone. The actual ache in my bones is fading. Remembering doesn’t bring me to my knees. My old self is emerging.
Myself. The happy, shiny, anxiety-ridden-but-unbroken girl, full of gratitude and trust. Myself. The person I’ve loved and battled and cultivated. The person I work always to improve but whose company I enjoy. Myself. White, American, thin, educated, married, healthy, financially comfortable, a happy childhood. I know my privilege. I truly, deeply do. But I trusted that it would continue. I don’t know if that’s smugness or survival.
When my sister died and I shattered, I thought myself was gone. I knew I would eventually form a new self from the shards, but I imagined she would be a shadow. A stranger to get acquainted to. But as each day passes, I feel myself digging her way out of the rubble and emerging back into the world. She’s bruised and battered and permanently scarred. She’s missing a few parts and won’t ever quite be the same. But that’s okay, because it’s her and she’s a warrior now.
But as I emerge, I find myself in unfamiliar territory. I don’t know how to navigate; what might awaken the beast of pain. I don’t know what might throw myself back into the dark swamp. I am hesitant to go to therapy each week, because I don’t want to keep ripping scabs off the wounds. I am scared to write, because I don’t want to bring the dark things back up. I don’t feel as urgent a need to meditate and practice yoga every day; there are easier distractions.
These internal conflicts remind me of the sadly common phenomenon of sick people ceasing to take their medicine when they start to feel better. You don’t need to finish that antibiotic pack that’s wreaking havoc on your digestive system, that anti-depressant that’s causing you to gain weight. You’re fine!
But how do we know when things have found peace within us, or if we’ve become strong enough to carry them, or if the beast is just hiding in the mud? For now, we sit and watch and wait. And keep taking the medicine.