Since many of you lovelies have been reaching out to ask for updates on my health shenanigans, I figured I would post a quick update along with my acts of kindness for the past couple of days. The short update is: I still don’t know. The longer story is that it takes quite a while to get into specialists, and even longer to schedule tests, etc. I have discovered that even if your case is marked as “urgent” many openings are last minute cancellations that you find out about right as you are, let’s say, about to drive into Canada. You know how that goes.
I was finally able to get into my appointment on Monday. I like the doctor quite a lot and she ordered several more tests, the most important being in December. So… that should be a nice, long wait until then. In the meantime I have lost a little over 15 pounds in the past three weeks. No bueno, friends, no bueno. The weight loss, general weakness and malabsorption has me feeling all kinds of exhausted, dizzy and lightheaded. I am eating, but still not absorbing nutrients for some reason that I won’t find out until December. It’ll be like a little Christmas present.
Merry Christmas! You’re malnourished!
Okay, so let all that serve to lower any bar you may have set for my kindness. Low bar, people… mama needs a real low bar. For Day 23 I made a donation to The Innocence Project in honor of my friend Andrew’s birthday. The Innocence Project is a non-profit organization that works to exonerate wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA. They are also committed to reforming the criminal justice system to prevent wrongful conviction in the first place.
As a mom of two black boys, I am aware of the statistics. The reality is that my black children are statistically more likely to be wrongly convicted of a crime than my white children. Minorities are more likely in general to be arrested as juveniles and tend to be handed down harsher and longer penalties for crimes committed as compared to white kids for the same offense. Research has found that white Americans are more likely to misidentify a black suspect in a murder investigation. Maybe there is a part of me that still resents the injustice of my brother’s privileged, white murderer remaining in jail for about a year and a half, while some innocent black children are wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison for crimes they did not commit, and this is due to racial bias.
For Day 24, I said “no” a bunch of times. I know this doesn’t sound very kind. But, guys, I’m not going to lie, I am pretty sick at this point. I have, historically, said yes to virtually everything that is asked of me. When someone calls to talk, I listen. When somebody needs advice, I am the go-to person. If you are hurting, if you and your spouse are fighting, if your kid keeps peeing in the wrong places in the house, if you had another miscarriage, or another negative pregnancy test, whatever it is... I go in. I love going in. It’s one of the few things that I actually really love about myself. I don’t shy away from a mess. I prance right into it with the confidence of someone who believes they can actually make a difference.
Still. I need to not. I needed to say no to a few requests. A couple speaking things, hosting community group every week at my house (which is a bigger undertaking than it sounds when you are too weak and pathetic to push a whole entire vacuum at the moment), and a few other small things. It was a sort of kindness to myself. I have needed to learn to say “no” for a while now, but it is challenging when I so dearly love to say “yes” to my people. But, this year I have been working on loving and accepting myself, and I have striven to possess self-compassion, self-concern, and self-awareness. This process started here, in my tiny closet.
And this is a picture of me.
I was five years old in this picture. At this point in my life, I was not broken. I was not in any sort of bondage - to fear or shame or hurt. I was just small and innocent, still untouched and not yet wounded.
This summer, I decided to hang this little girl in my closet as a reminder of who I once was, and as a reminder that somewhere deep inside of me that little, innocent girl still exists. And someone needs to love her and to protect her. Someone needs to think she is beautiful. Someone needs to exonerate her from the offenses I have accused her of for so many years. I suppose this was my own version of an innocence project.
So, when I go to my closet each morning to get dressed… I don’t get dressed for other people. I’m not trying to make people think I am attractive. I am not choosing clothes for attention. I get dressed for her. I make choices that make her feel beautiful. I have discovered that she loves dresses and bold patterns, big hair and bright lipstick. My inner-child is totally an 80’s girl, an “absolute queen” as I’ve been told. And I love that about her.
Doing this felt silly at first, but it is also, quite possibly, the first step I have actively taken to love myself. This led to other self-care steps - like finally getting my teeth fixed after horrendous pregnancies with the world’s most selfish fetuses, just sucking the life right out of me and my teeth. I have been less critical of myself, and therefore less critical of others. I have been gentler with myself, and therefore gentler with others. I have been more understanding of myself, and therefore more understanding of others. And today, giving myself permission to say “no” to multiple requests and stepping back from extra responsibilities for a while was one more thing I did to be kind, caring and protective toward myself. I have to believe that, ultimately, this will allow me to continue walking into the mess of other people’s lives, but when I do, I will be stronger, I will be healthier, my hair will be big and fabulous, and I will be able push a vacuum all by myself.