It doesn’t get better. Or it does, but then it gets bad again. I want to keep the faith and believe it will get better, that I’ll get better, but some days, scratch that, some weeks, it’s tough. Last week it was my hands, this week my foot, so painful that I limp out of bed in the mornings, limp around the bathroom until my body remembers and I walk just so, so as not to make it any worse.
It doesn’t get better. Never fully, not yet anyway. It’s been years now, so long it’s hard to keep track. Shoulder first, then knees, now hands and feet. It bounces around, picks a new part of my body to set up shop, just when I think I can’t handle one more thing.
It doesn’t get better. But wait, it does, by degrees anyway. Or for months and months at a time until I almost start to believe I’ve kicked it for good. But back it comes, pushing on my consciousness the moment I wake up in the morning, the moment I remember myself. Knees cranky and stiff, hands tight and sore.
“Good morning my love. No, I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m happy!”
It doesn’t get better when I deny it though, we both know that by now. So now I’m crying because I’m 35 and my body feels like it belongs to an old lady and I’m scared that I’ll never get better and that if I already have all these problems now, god knows what will happen when I’m actually old. And he’s comforting me and telling me he’ll always love me no matter what, and I know he means it, but I also know what waking up to this must take out of him, because I know how much it takes out of me.
“What if it never gets better?” Megan asks me one day. “I don’t know how to deal with that”, I reply, my voice breaking, tears coming fast and hot, spilling down my cheeks for what feels like the millionth time lately. “I just don’t know how to deal with that”, I repeat. Everything I’ve done for the last three years, the doctor’s appointments, the insurance calls, the MRIs and bloodwork, the PT appointments and the diet, the god damn fucking diet. The only way I’ve dredged up the motivation for any of this is the faint and fleeting hope that I can make this thing go away, that it’s in my power to do that.
What if it never gets better? I didn’t know I was supposed to go there, to accept this as simply something about me and my life that no amount of will or effort or sacrifice can change. I don’t know how to go there without complete despair. Without eating an entire pizza and watching Grace & Frankie all day when I should be working. Grace and her arthritic wrists, her bad knees. God, what will be left of me by that age if it keeps going like this?
It doesn’t get better, not fully anyway, and I start to lose hope, start to feel it right down to my soul when my wrists protest as I wash the dishes, or make it impossible to do yoga, one thing that never fails to bring me back to myself. Or when I’m surfing and pain shoots up my forearms every time I plant my hands on the board, or grip it tight as a wave crashes over. So much so that I hold my hands underwater, willing the icy cold ocean to take the pain away.
And so I get a slice of pizza when I get out of the water. Because fuck it, right? What’s the point of all this denial if it’s not going to get better anyway? And then it’s a spiral and I’m weeks in and my stomach aches and my knees feel hot and swollen, and my foot’s so bad I give up on walking entirely.
It doesn’t get better when I eat like this, I can tell you that for sure. There’s no denying it, the way that food, and especially so many foods I love dearly, hurt me. The way they spread through my bloodstream for days afterward, lighting little fires wherever they go. Making me regret the indulgence, angry with myself for failing, once again, to do what I know needs doing.
It doesn’t get better, and so I keep digging. Food sensitivity tests this week, heavy metals next. Who knows after that. How many more negative tests do I need to see before I give up entirely? Before I throw my hands up and surrender to my fate?
Which new theory to pursue this week? Which new idea to try on? They get more obscure by the day. Your body can’t heal if your sacrum is out of alignment. Your body won’t heal if you’re in fight or flight all the time, you need to rewire your nervous system. Your body will never heal if you don’t confront the wounds of your childhood and forgive your family for the ways in which they’ve hurt you. Oh. Just that.
It doesn’t get better and so I keep digging. Just another white woman doing all the self-care, all the clean eating and clean living and still never satisfied, still never healthy. What a fucking cliche.
**Trying out unapologetic negativity, based on the writing prompt: Write about something that doesn’t get better. Turns out it’s healing to let the negativity out once in a while, rather than always working so hard to “stay positive”.**