On Saturday, I celebrated my diagnosis day. 3 years of having lived with the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. It’s been a crazy journey these three years, often very difficult and isolating. In the midst of the pain and seeming unfairness of it all, there have been some beautiful moments: being attuned and witnessing my own healing journey, the friendships that have formed, starting my own business, and learning to sit with difficult emotions more fully.
I’ve discovered a love of cooking and I’ve honed my writing skills. I’ve found yoga and meditation, contemplative Christianity, and my own inner drive to persevere. I’m learning to lean into my intuition, my emotions, and my spirituality. I’m writing a book about the gifts that have been gained from my illness. I’m gaining life and wisdom from stories, both in digging more deeply into my own and in listening to others.
I posted a few weeks ago about Sick Woman Theory. After I read it, I wrote a poem, dedicated to Johanna Hevda, the originator of Sick Woman Theory. This is for all those who are sick, and who feel like they have to fight to be seen and who have been dismissed way too many times.
To All Those Who Shouldn’t Have Made It, But Did, And Do
for Johanna Hevda
You’re here. You’ve gotten out of bed in some miraculous way.
You showed up. Maybe that took all your spoons.
I’m honored that you chose to spend your limited energy here, with me.
But I realize that you didn’t have to; and that would not be wrong.
Funny how we define right and wrong, isn’t it?
Funny how we place blame on the sick bodies, those lazy people lying in bed
And yet, we are too afraid of their power when in public?
In our society, sick bodies are queer; and in fact, many queer people are sick.
We feel the deviance in being a mystic; so many of the contemplative texts come from sick bodies.
So white contemplatives: next time we quote from Hildegard of Bingen or Catherine of Sienna or Joan of Arc or Theresa of Avila or Julian of Norwich: remember their female sick bodies.
Do not steal from them their insights, while ignoring their bodies.
Back then they were mystics; now we shut people up in psych wards, give them medicine to numb them, and cut them off from community. Maybe we should be listening.
We are cut off from community, even as we long to find each other. And find each other we will. We must.
Blessed are you when you get out of bed, but people feel you should stay in bed to prove you are sick.
Blessed are you when you stay in bed, because you know what rest means more than anyone around you.
Blessed are you when you speak up in order to be visible, but people prefer your invisibility.
Blessed are you when you are silent, connecting with the Divine, but people prefer to call you crazy.
Blessed are you when you go to the doctor, but the doctor calls you hysterical.
Blessed are you when you are your own best doctor, because this white hetero-normative patriarchal medical institution really isn’t for you.
Blessed are you when you smile at the cashier, the first person you’ve made eye contact with all day.
Blessed are you when someone looks away from you, because you just parked in a handicapped spot, but don’t look handicapped.
Blessed are you when you take time to breathe, for sometimes the earth is your best friend.
Blessed are you when you take time to scream, for your rage is justified.
Blessed are you, lying in bed all day, still hoping, still yearning for community.
Blessed are you, seen though invisible, beautiful, though sick, hopeful in your agony.