I am a big believer in the emotional memory of the physical body. Our mind is the province of feelings but not of the visceral responses they evoke. Once we have received information and churned forth a limbic reaction, it is stored forever in our skin and muscles and bones. When I see something that reminds me of a deep loss, the percussion of my pulse swells and tears cling to my lower lashes before I even feel sadness. The body first, the mind second.
Earlier this week, I developed hives on my hands and arms. I occasionally get hives at this point but not like this. Within a few hours, they blistered. At the same time, I realized that I had bruising all over my arms and a few hives and bruises were developing on my chest and abdomen. It was well and truly bizarre but I wasn’t surprised at the onset of peculiar symptoms this week. This week, it has been a year. My body remembers.
It remembers laying on my yoga mat talking to Kristina about Seth. It remembers the hum of panic overlaying the dull bass of exhaustion. It remembers the headache from reading papers well into the night. It remembers the twisting pain and breathlessness of awful news. It remembers the way my skin burned like fire when anxiety woke me after two hours of sleep.
It remembers the soft click of the keyboard as I talked to friends thousands of miles away about this shared horror unfurling before us. The quiet pain of waiting for them to respond, both of us typing and deleting, sharing these things we cannot say. Conversations in short, informal sentences. For me, experiencing these awful moments in Facebook groups and group chats with a worldwide community has becoming an indelible part of having this rare disease. It is hard to pull masto away from social media. They are so intertwined for me.
It seems impossible that it has been a year. Last fall changed me fundamentally as a person. It is hard to realize that in some ways, things have not changed a lot. But there has been progress. There have been soul rending struggles. There have been moments where you dredge up tiny flecks of courage when you were so, so sure that there nothing left. There has been acceptance and perseverance and devotion. And in some ways, there has been healing.
We are alive. We are still here. Sometimes that is the only triumph.
I have to believe that there is a point to all of this. I have to believe that I am more than this vessel and its physical limitations. I have to believe that one day, I will be free of it.
But for now, I am still here. We didn’t lose anyone. My body stores these emotions, a silver thread woven into every part of me that catches sometimes when I don’t expect it.