Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Lie

How did I end up here? 

I ask myself this question on good days and bad alike.

How is this my life?

What did I do to deserve this?

Today I'm day three into Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, a virus that normally affects toddlers and rarely infects adults. I've got severe blisters covering my hands, feet, inside of my mouth and more.

Lots more.

One week ago I had just arrived home from a long and fantastic trip across Canada and the US with my boyfriend, sans major hiccups. That's a major feat. We talked in the car, chatted about the sage relationship advice of Dan Savage, the gay man who gives straight couples relationship pointers. We agreed on everything. We saw glaciers and bears, breathtaking sunsets and lots and lots of open fields. We made new friends and re-connected with others.

How is this my life?

(Full disclosure: I didn't relax very much).

Now we're back and I'm disgusting. As in, there is absolutely nothing beautiful about me anymore. My face is pocked, my hands and feet swollen and mottled like toads in a year without rain. I smell like chamomile and tea tree oil, benadryl cream and apple juice. Instead of resting and taking care of myself to heal and hopefully throw this nasty infection, I'm consumed with the terrible thoughts that I'm worthless, unloveable, and undeserving. Each morning when I wake up it is more pain and itch, the likes I've never experienced, gently entangled with the fear that I've passed this along rather than keeping the rot to myself.

What did I do to deserve this?

I'm trying to find the yoga in this. This battle of opposites. This inability to let myself be fragile, weakened, or seen for anything less than the best of what I've got. This ego thing is really cramping my style. Can't I just go back? To the mountain air and the glacial waters? Can I please go back and get a do-over, to enjoy my time rather than stressing about the mountain of email and expectations that waited for me on the other side of the invisible wall of wifi?

Can I please go back to when I wasn't completely consumed with self-consciousness? When I was in a place that was more beautiful than I'll ever hope to be, and I forgot for a second (a split second, just once or twice) that I'm not so different from that place? Now I feel so foreign, back in the Land of Responsibility without my usual sarcasm, humor, and whatever looks I like to think I have?

When I got back, the first people who saw me said how jealous they were of my life - my travel - my independence.

"ME TOO!" I wanted to scream in their faces. I am always pinching myself - how did I get here? - what did I do to deserve this? - How is this my life? I don't pinch myself because I'm so blissful I think I'm dreaming, I pinch myself to say, "HEY, A-HOLE, RELAX AND ENJOY."

I don't know how to do that.

Social media is a lie - at least mine is. Or it isn't the whole story. It's the brief moments above water when the sun shines through. No one posts pictures of being lost at sea, disfigured and disgruntled. And maybe that's because we know it can be worse - or it will be worse - and we should try to appreciate whatever morsel of joy we can capture. As proof to our friends - and ourselves - that we were once beautiful. Once happy.

Or at least we pretended to be.