Every morning now, I wake up in an aching battle with myself. You’re not supposed to lie flat on your back when pregnant, especially as you get further along, but it’s my most natural inclination to do so. Every fiber of my being calls for it. I fall asleep on my side, but I wake up flat on my back, with arms outstretched over my head; even behind my head with my legs crossed like a Yogi, I kid you not. Like my sleeping self knows something that hasn’t reached the waking.
And of course, as the story goes, we’re different people in our dreams, aren’t we? Or are we all just pieces of ourselves? I once suffered terrible allergies in the early summer and I told my then-boyfriend, “I’m not ME right now. I’m not ME in allergy season.” And he said, “Aren’t you, though? Aren’t these all just pieces of you?” They don’t have to be perfect, or even fit together. The puzzle pieces. My dream self is ragier, sadder, happier, brighter, braver, bolder, amorous-er, and all the things I can’t control in my dreams, and wouldn’t want to anyway. In the waking days, in some situations I can control, it’s not the loud, epic battlegrounds of my dreams. I still can feel like a soldier, and I still know when I don’t feel like “me”, even if it’s all still pieces of me.
Just who do you think you are?
Well I thought I was someone who couldn’t do this – first the two weeks, now over two months, and what next? Over two years? At first I was in full quarantine mode and now I’m in mostly quarantine mode, but I’m also in safe-in-public mode. The beautiful rising heat days conceal rising panic of a situation that is not at all remedied, and isn’t even well known yet. Somehow this two weeks or two months or two years uncertainty is ok, because there’s no other way for it to be. The sun shines and we watch the clouds go by, drinking in these hammocky afternoons – knowing that the best brains in the world are working on it. Surely, they’re working on it, and surely, they’ll find a solution, right? Who do I think I am? I don’t have the best brain in the world.
It’s funny how I get smaller as I age, or at least further away from the vision I thought I’d be, and the kid who dreamed her up. I’m a lot of push and pull and hot and cold and all kinds of contradictions. I’m obvious and hidden, open and enigmatic, calm and anxious, invisible and vivid. Who do you think you are? Who do I think I am? Someone sometimes in pain, but always healing, growing, and trying to make life better. For me, and not just me. isn’t that the point?
For years, I still saw myself as my most awkward self. Sometimes I still do, but I didn’t for ages. I really came into my own, and thought it was here to stay. I thought I was safe from the growing pains, but they don’t always stop with growing from adolescence into young, more assured adulthood. We’re always transitioning and changing, and our bodies are too. Last night, I rubbed my lavender pregnancy leg cream into Des’ legs, after he writhed with growing pains. He looked small and young as I tucked him in again – balmed and sleepy. What a beautiful chance this is to tuck myself in, balmed and sleepy. Growing pains will always stretch and ache.
The virus doesn’t seem to follow a certain curve, like a cold. Rather, it waxes and wanes. Are you getting better or worse? Can you feel near perfect one day and like a straight drop off a cliff the next? Mental health is like that. Am I getting better or worse, in this Coronaverse, but also outside of it, in the life I continue to build and believe in? Who am I in this boxed Corona world, in the frame of my normal anxious world, and then in the frame of the larger world? Like Russian Nesting Dolls, am I smaller, and more dark and unrecognizable in each new version?
Masks and sleeping positions are temporary. I can wrap those elastics around my ear and learn to breathe through fabric by day, and I can fall asleep curved on my side, and fight it again and again in the night and in the early morning. One day I’ll whip that mask off and grin from to ear to ear, and I’ll stretch myself flat on my back in the night and in the early morning. As we learn, the temporary horrors (and growing pains) will come and go, but at least I know that my natural inclinations are to stretch, stretch, stretch above my head, below my feet, and to the sky.
We don’t lose the most genuine pieces of ourselves. That’s how we know who we are. Who am I? I’m everything and nothing; everyone and no one. And once, someone wrote a poem for me:
Mother and Daughter
You are Laughter and Pain,
a Day in the Rain
You are Wonderful and Wise,
pale blue Skies
Tide about to rise
You see not Dark but Light,
Black in White
Day in night
You are an Angel and a Gift,
Love set adrift
But Never Lost”
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FTSF) for a new prompt. This week’s awesome new topic is “Who do you think you are? (photo prompt)” You can link up your own post HERE.