At some point in everyone’s lives someone will do something to betray your trust or your confidence. It could be a coworker, a friend, a loved one. Whoever it is, it stings. But at least there is an external source. Something outside of ourselves that we can be frustrated with, and sometimes if we’re really lucky receive an apology from. What happens when that betrayal comes from ourselves? What happens when it’s our own bodies that are betraying us?
Sometimes it’s something momentary like a pulled hamstring so you can’t finish your race or complications during labor so you have to have a C-Section instead of natural birth. Sometimes it’s smaller, but long lasting. For me it’s my wrist. I prefer to write by hand. I love the feel of a pen in my hand, the sound of it scratching across a journal page. The messiness of scribbling over what doesn’t work, drawing arrows to rearrange what’s down, or the satisfaction of ripping out a page and crushing it into a ball when you’ve produced nothing but banal drivel. I don’t get to do this anymore. Because of damaged cartilage, I can’t write for more than fifteen minutes before the fatigue, cramping and pain set in. It frustrates me to no end. I’ve had to relearn how to write. I’m lucky though. For whatever reason, typing doesn’t hurt. So I’ve learned to compose on a computer. It’s not my preference, but it works. So I’ve adapted. It’s my new reality.
Then there are the big things. The thing that gnaws at the back of your mind and you’re always on the lookout for. What if I get (insert major disease or medical affliction) like (insert name of loved one) who died? You watched as someone’s body betrayed them in a big bad way. You watched the day to day struggles, victories, coping and eventually letting go. It teaches you that life is short. It teaches you that quality of life is far more important than quantity of life. It teaches you that you never want to go through THAT yourself. Anything but THAT.
So what happens when THAT becomes a reality? Not for you, but another loved one. Are you allowed to scream to the heavens that this isn’t fair? Are you allowed to be pissed off that you’ve already paid your dues, your loved ones have already paid their dues? Are you allowed to be afraid for yourself because you don’t know if you have the strength to watch that again? Are you allowed to worry that lighting might strike a third time, now that it has already struck twice? After all, you aren’t the one that’s sick. You aren’t the one undergoing treatments. You have not been betrayed by your body.
It feels selfish to freak out. Like you don’t have the right, because it isn’t you. I feel like social norms dictate that as the non-patient you’re supposed to be strong and positive. Which, yeah, I can play that role, but I also want to throw things against the wall and watch as they explode into a million tiny pieces. Then keep throwing until I no longer have the strength to lift my arms, to remain standing. Keep throwing until I crumple to the ground in a heap, betrayed by my own body, because it just doesn’t feel fair any other way.