Our Insides on the Outside

I am going to write this out and chances are I’ll delete it. But today I had to do a really thorough intake with a psychiatrist I was assigned by my shitty Medicaid insurance. He (of course he) was evaluating my personal and familial history of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse because it’s become apparent that part of my raging and malingering UTI/kidney infection stems from past sexual and emotional trauma being retriggered during this intense period of turmoil and isolation. My point is this: by the time I was 10 minutes into this inventory I was crying so hard I could not breathe. Yet to obtain the medication I need to regulate my emotions enough to give my body a chance to heal–I had to relive all of this calcified rotten familial shit–essentially perform it—for this detached stranger, going back to the wartime rapes in Poland, the great grandmother forced into prostitution when she got here, not to mention my own sexual, emotional, and physical trauma starting in childhood. People who know me in any context know I never talk about these details with anyone but my therapist (who thank god is not a psychiatrist). I learned long ago that managing other people’s feelings about my trauma only compounds my trauma. So I honestly felt like I needed therapy to get through what was passing for a therapeutic intake.

And here is my larger point: This experience put into perspective how it may feel for black people and many other people of color to be so actively reliving the legacy of racism in America during this moment of profound upheaval. Yes, powerful long overdue changes are being achieved but the horror to which some are just waking up is is not new information. In fact, it’s the opposite. And witnessing people not know about it because they didn’t have to know about it–in fact were benefitting from these systems of oppression– likely feels about a billion times worse than me having to tell this snotty shrink my deepest horrors just to get the medication I need. Not to mention in any way being asked to educate or explain and even console white people regarding these “revelations.”

Forgive me if this is whitesplaining–it likely is–but I’m working through this in real time with the particular desperation that accompanies feeling ill over an extended period of time. All I can register right now is brutal, brutal triggers everywhere in this land.

These are the hardest times I can remember in my lifetime. Capitalism is out of control, Covid is (still) out of control, institutionalized white supremacy is downright showing off. All in all, America’s larcenous blueprint is coming up to be rewritten.

And this means that traumatic blueprints of emotional physical legal and ancestral oppression are also coming up to be healed. My experience today reminded me that the process of healing is often as painful as the wound itself. So–and I say this with deep respect for the righteous anger so many are feeling–for the love of anything you love, try to be kind and gentle with yourselves and if possible each other as you pursue intense reckoning and self-reckoning. Because love and care is going to collectively re-raise us best. It’s not always possible, and it’s not always easy. But love and care is what got disrupted for me as a child and what I learn again and again and again as an adult is the only thing that truly can transform my life and the world I wish to inhabit.

It’s been my tagline forever though of course it came first from Tolstoy: All I know, I know because I love.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy