I live in Texas. The days in summer are well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Two weeks ago, on my way home from applying to adopt a cat, I suddenly had to stop to eat… NOW…. I intuitively knew I wouldn’t make it home in time.
At the closest food truck, I downed two tacos as fast as I could, and still I was shaking. And exhausted… I just wanted to go home and sleep. It was too hot… I could feel Set’s presence had appeared beside me, signalling something might actually be wrong… He seemed concerned, but was calming to be near.
A police officer found me resting my head on my arms under the roofed table area and asked if I was okay. I started crying, “No.” He called an ambulance.
[In hindsight, this was white privilege in action– a white “woman”/feminine person cries, and it mobilizes ten white men in uniform to help, rather than harass or arrest me, or worse… They never once asked if I had taken any illegal substances…]
I spent an hour and a half with– first the police, then the firemen, then the EMS guys… I drank four glasses of water. I nearly fainted again. They hooked me up to an EKG to check if it was my heart. It wasn’t. (At the time, half delirious, I laughed to myself, “Ha! It better not be my heart! I’m under a contract with Anubis to donate that organ to someone…” Gallows humor. Hope he appreciated it.) They nearly took me to the hospital in the ambulance– but I panicked and said, even with my relatively secure job and insurance, I couldn’t risk hospital and ambulance bills under the Trump administration… So I called my friend.
I ended up at the emergency room for severe dehydration, with an IV attached to my arm, feeding me fluids. My friend B sat beside me to the right. Set was to my left. (Later, once I was fine again, he would ask for a bag of Cheetos, and then share them with me. Whether he needed the energy for appearing so suddenly, or it was to restore a sense of normalcy, or to feed me, I don’t know. But I discovered I like Cheetos, too.)
The doctor– a middle-aged man with a trim beard, dad paunch, kind but tired smile, and wearing a blue-and-white striped hoodie– took my statements, asked me to close my eyes and raise my arms to see if I’d had a seizure, checked my eyes for something… I was highly dissociated, so I don’t remember much… I just remember him, at one point, asking me if everything was okay… Anything bothering me lately…?
“Just trauma stuff”, I said.
“Anything I should know about?”
“Nothing new. Just the usual…”
“And what’s that?”
I paused…. feeling small and lost…. “I’m… so angry…”
After I had gone through two bags of fluid, peed in a cup, done some tests, and drank a Gatorade, I was free to go. The doctor said, in parting, “I’m going to tell you what my friend, the neurosurgeon, tells his patients when he’s done seeing them.” He pressed his palm against my forehead, then withdrew it with a flourish, “YOU ARE HEALED!” B and I laughed…
Damn though….. I really wish that was true.
At the end of the work week, I roamed in my car after 1:00am. I didn’t know what I was looking for. Set directed me to a local 24-hour diner and cafe I’d never been to before. As soon as I went in, I had a panic attack.
It’s been happening again lately: panic attacks. I had thought this stage of my healing was over… But apparently not.
The waitress noticed something was wrong.
“Hey, sweetie, are you okay? Do you want to sit down? I have a quiet room in the back–”
She brought me a glass of water and a menu, saying, “If you need anything– a sandwich, or anything– let me know.”
After a sandwich, fries, and two glasses of water, I realized I hadn’t eaten all day.
“I could see it in your face,” the waitress, G, said when I told her about my panic attack, “I have a bunch of anxiety issues too, so I get it.” She went on to tell me that she wished mental health wasn’t so stigmatized and that she’s benefited a lot from therapy. She spoke really fast, but it was comforting in a way.
“Sometimes we carry consequences around with us– whether they’re the consequences of things we’ve done, or that other people did– we still carry them.”
I thought of my father. I thought of my mother. I thought of the government. I thought of my ex. I thought of every school councilor, health professional, food stamps official, and social security worker I had asked for help during my most trauma-fucked years… I thought of every teacher who saw that I had depression in fourth grade, and didn’t ask me how things were at home… I thought of the hotline councilors who said, “I don’t see how this is relevant,” and “We can only help you if it’s an emergency…” I remember the illegally operating sales company I worked for that gave us unbearable working conditions, stole my commission wages, and threatened to leave me stranded two hours outside of town if I protested against abusive treatment in front of the other employees… I remember my boss at the next job who told me to “fight for my hours” while it was all I could do to get out of bed and fight for my life against my own suicidal ideation each day.
As she finished cleaning the tables, she gave me a sympathetic glance.
“Yeah…” I agreed.
Set. And Lucifer. Both.
Have talked to me about choices… and the consequences thereof. The only things you can control sometimes are the choices you make– how you react to the situations you find yourself in, and if you can live with the consequences of the choices you make… Who that makes you…
In abusive situations, in terror and in hopelessness, I have not always made decisions I am proud of. I focused on those. I clutched tightly to the choices I made in really fucked up situations. Some of them had been in childhood, some much later. I held them out in front of me and said, “You see…? I’m bad…” I have had to accept that I have made decisions that did not honor my soul or my values…. I have had to forgive and release these hurts and disappointments and shame.
But in clutching tightly to my reigns of control, I forgot that some of what I carried had not been born of my decisions.
Of having been wronged.
It tears its way through my body.
One night, I filled a page of my journal with “It hurts. It hurts…” until Set spoke to me and I wrote it down.
“This is the work.”
“I love you.”
“I need you to be in the world. If you can’t do it for you, do it for me.”
Why would you need me?
“I love you. I would hurt deeply if you were gone.”
I’m afraid of anger, Set.
“That is why you hold it inside of you.”
I thought I had passed this stage of healing already.
A new friend on a Kemetic Amino tells me, “Sometimes we regress.”
It’s true. I don’t know who first said it, but it’s become common and repeated knowledge that “healing isn’t linear.” My therapist– probably multiple therapists– have said it to me.
Every time we come around to the same old thing, maybe we get a little better at dealing with it. Let a little more of it go. Put a little more of it down…
I hope so.
Until then, I journal. I attend therapy. I talk to my friends. I talk to my gods. I pet cats. I remember to eat and drink and sleep.
I remember to love as much as I can and find joy in small moments.
I honor myself in all my facets and stages.
I keep going.
“This is the work.”
of the Heart Road