This food was in the shower with you?

I’m still in NYC.  My joints are sore, which usually means I’m not sleeping enough.  However, I’ve slept in record amounts of late, so who knows.  I’m so glad I brought my cat with me.  It’s amazing to me how much of a difference it makes to be able to cuddle her whenever I feel myself starting to get agitated.  It helps more than I ever imagined.  I’m also feeling the benefits of having a small bedroom with an enclosed bed.  My room is what was once considered maids quarters, and the bed is embedded in the wall on 3 sides.  I pull a curtain for even more privacy, and darkness.  It’s cozy, but I wish I had a weighted blanket here.

My PC doctor wants me to get my blood pressure checked as soon as I get home.  I can tell it’s way higher than it should be, and I suspect flying makes it worse.  My blood pressure is a direct reflection of my stress levels, and even when I feel like I’m totally winning at a tough challenge, it’ll clearly indicate that in reality, I’m suppressing, and paying for it.  I burst the blood vessels in my left eye yesterday.  That’s a pretty clear signal that I need to address it.  It’s not something that happens often, but it’s part of the cost of being black in America.

Being permanently on high alert internally is a low level pain that every person of color lives with in this country.  We don’t talk about it, but we all know it’s there.  We don’t acknowledge it because it’s an inescapable fact of life.  We have no idea what it’s like not to be on high alert 24/7.  We can barely remember those few years of innocence in our childhoods where we were oblivious of institutional racism.  We know everyone can relate to our invisible plight on some level, whether or not they choose to acknowledge it.

Gay people understand what it feels like.  White people who live in areas of extreme diversity know what it feels like.  Women who are afraid to even assess their exhaustion level from overachieving for minimal rewards know what it feels like.  Fat people know what it feels like.  Deaf people know what it feels like.  Transgender people know what it feels like.  Chronically ill people know what it feels like.  Disabled people know what it feels like.  Men who are overwhelmed by the sudden, generalized rage at their very existence know what it feels like.  Autistic people know what it feels like.  Adults who were interracially adopted as infants know what it feels like.  Black people with dark skin know what it feels like.  All who are actually living their lives know what it feels like.

What I don’t understand, is why we don’t embrace our struggles as a species, and hold each other up?  Why am I expected to waste my strengths on building myself up in the eyes of an imaginary entity, when I could use them to compensate for a weakness in another?  Is it not better that we are both lifted?  I know the answer.  I’ve known for some time now.  I know that my strengths are nothing if not used to lift those around me.  I know that my weaknesses are not my shame, but my connection to another with complementary strength.  It’s hard to recognize reality when others refuse to see it.  But I see it.  We are not meant to be so disconnected from each other.  It hurts us as a whole.  As a whole, we are.

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