Afterburn (Trigger Warning)

I have had my pain meds for almost a week. I still can feel the after image of the pain, it’s tracking me like some sort of monster. In my mind there is a shadow, and if I look behind there feels a chance to see the negative image of my being drawn out by the pain. The monster is created by the black hole of pain, that inescapable pain that takes lives. In every motion I make there is the risk that I will hurt like that again. The fear is enough to make me hesitate. This is the after burn. This is the concequence.

It comes up when I want to do something such as spending money for a keyboard that isn’t broken, or saving for a computer that isn’t dying a slow and icky death. My keyboard has had a short in the usb wire for a good while. I found out about it during my time with the Paintrocity. I don’t use wireless keyboards for two reasons, batteries and also I tend to break those a lot faster. This keyboard has actually lasted for years and through several computers, it is a veteran in my typo wars. It’s been packed away for moves from the first time I lived on my own through this permanent time.

This keyboard has been dropped, run over by the scooter, and I wonder if objects feel each time I “hurt” it. Never on purpose because it is a life line. Perhaps it is this attachment that makes me hesitate but I think not. I think it is just having the pain again. The last time I felt this way was not the last time that my meds were removed from my life. With that I was already feeling pain and things were different due to abuse. That was another type of pain, even though it included bodily anguish and mental anguish. There is no comparison. This is NOT the worst pain of my life. It is merely the current pain.

Afterburn pain doesn’t go away with a pill. I know a large part of it is mental, some of it is a symptom of lost ability from having to stay still so that I didn’t give in to the urge to just scream. Some of it is rebuilding the barrier between my pain and my brain. I don’t know if this is a bad thing or not. I think with the new wheels it is giving me a bit of perspective on what my body benefits most from about the chair. That would definately be the adjustability of my body without my having to twist and shift. So far I have had a dramatic relief in all pain except my lower back where the actual spinal injury is. That pain won’t go away ever, I learned this a long time ago.

Still, with the Paintrocity I am afraid to explore. I am almost using my too narrow gate as an excuse. Almost. I fear more not having my shiny new wheels and if I force through the gate I may damage the controller wire or something else, therefore I have to be patient and wait for the manager to take the gate off it’s hinges, remove two blocks of wood and reattach it on the other side so that it swings fully open and doesn’t murder my rose bush. I have beautiful yellow roses in bloom.

The Paintrocity has me afraid to do anything. Eating? No. Why? It will make me digest and digestion hurt so badly without the medication. Breathing? I still catch myself starting to hold my breath because the injury in my back effects my diaphragm. Singing? I won’t let myself stop but that puts my lower back into a form of torture. The singing brings up more mental challenges with this. Even laying in bed is unpleasant now. It now reminds me of being trapped in my home.

I am going to call the manager today and let him know I need the gate fixed by Friday. Rather short notice occured but I have a graduation to attend, and I want to be there. Parts of me are afraid. This would be my first time in a huge crowd with these wheels but, these wheels have immaculate control, they turn in tight spaces, and oh yeah, I am taller. The seat of this chair is about four inches higher, then if I tilt it back I feel like some sort of six foot tall seated person.

The after burn has a very visceral image in my mind. It belongs in a horror movie. I become a negative image. It is my own reverse flash come to destroy my life, to devalue everything I love. The paintrocity even tried to remove my ability to hold Sprite. Yesterday was the first time since the pain meds return when we could truly lay together for naptime and both be comfortable. She had her head on my shoulder, so whenever I would shift a bit or wake up and opened my eyes I could see her curled up against me, using me as a pillow fast asleep. The adorableness helped dispell some of my fear of sleeping.

I think that was the worst part of the latest experience with no shelter from my pain. I did not go through what I thought of as withdrawals but instead into spirals of deeper pain. Sleep became a place of more nightmare than not. For a long time the only nightmares I had were related to the murder that I witnessed. Even in the pain those went away because I spoke up. The dreams consisted mostly of my parents relaying how much they cared for me. That is a very bad thing with parents like mine. The paintrocity also made me more vulnerable to talking with anyone who is a “leech”. I have a few in my life. I only answered the phone for one once.

Even as I write this I am left with a quaking feeling in my gut. My mother admitted she reads my blog. Well during my time of pain when I wanted to kill myself I wrote a letter detailing all of the things that made me angry about wanting to die. I understood still and reminded myself that the pain was escapable if I trusted my service coordinator and advocate. I just had to wait a little longer. Just a little more time. Those words were torture. I just wanted to slit my wrists. I considered eating some of the non pain medications en masse to see if I would die. I considered dragging myself to the street. The plan ended there because that was NOT happening. I had to talk myself out of it, and I found myself angry at wanting to die. I found myself angrier that the voice in my head telling me to die sounded like my mother or my father always. It was never my internal voice.

Some of the things I wrote I will never write about here, some I will. I determined long ago that this is my blog, this is my space, and my parents are far from good but they are also far from the only abusive parents in the world. For my entire life I have thought of my mother as a victim. That stopped. This was a benefit of the paintrocity. Anyone that could let their children be abused and excuses it as it was better for them than being without a father, or lets them take the beating so that they don’t have to IS an abuser. She may not have dirtied her hands as often as Steve (that’s my biological cretin of a father’s name by the way) but she still did abuse. There were words, moments, and even a few times she hit me because she didn’t like what I was feeling. I don’t know that I can forgive her for what she has done. I don’t know that I will ever visit the family again. My baby sister is old enough now that she is a fully formed adult. If she needs me she can call. I don’t have to endure an abusive grandmother, an abusie mother, and her worst drug dealer ever husband

I finally understand why after calling her or her calling me I feel so horrible. She’s like her mother. I don’t know if she will read this post but I will never say those words outloud to¬† her. Every time she told me I was just like my father it cut to the soul. The paintrocity helped me to relive those moments.

I still have a lack of good color to my skin, I still have these dark blue circles under my eyes. I always have them when I don’t feel quite right. The darker and bigger those circles the worse the pain is. I felt for a while during the pain that my face had vanished under them. Both my caregivers were concerned more than once about how grey I had become. I looked like a zombie. I was a zombie lost to the pain. They made me eat. They made me drink. I did not want to. This was something I asked of them in preparation and both caregivers worked with me admirably. There were days when I just growled at them. They still worked, they still did all that we needed. There was nothing that either did that made pain worse either. That is a challenge.

My face has always betrayed how much I hurt. When I saw it happening in the mirror or it was commented on I felt naked, and I expected pain in the form of abuse or manipulation. Every other time someone else has added to those burdens. I trust that in the moments when everything melted into PTSD land or I was hallucenating very bad things that neither did anything wrong. If they were going to they would do it regardless of coherency. My experience with abusers has also told me they would want me to remember, so that I would know that they had power over me. Disconcerting? Absolutely.

I know eventually I will defeat my formless foe, the Paintrocity. I will get back to where I feel almost carefree. I have never quite managed carefree, but I have come close. Now that I have mobility restored I may attain actual carefree during some moments. I have goals, I have dreams, and I have begun to live already. Like a thirsting plant that just needed water. Sprite has taken to the chair as well. In less than a day she stopped hiding for most of my jaunts around the living room for food or water. She didn’t like going outside on the leash but after that she started jumping up onto my lap, she found out she can’t sit on my headrest and she’s sitting on the table waiting for me to finish typing.

My pain is lessened further because I cut my hair off. I am now short hair bearer. I like the style, and it looks good one me. (No style I have ever had has been out and out bad except the time I shaved my head.) It feels good. I am sending the grocery bag full of hair (and I do mean full, I was apparently very hairy) to the people gathering hair for the Oil Spills. Because the hair is dyed it was not appropriate for Locks of Love but now I know there is another charity that can use my hair for good.

I do not yet know what it will take to beat the Paintrocity except for living. I do know that I do not fear dying anymore. I don’t think I qualify as suicidal. Part of this is that I had reached my goal of not wanting to kill myself daily before my pain meds were denied by the insurance, and I managed to make it until the last four days before I wanted to die. Even when I wanted to I could use the truth over the pain induced self hate and lies in order to not give up or in. I had been living all along. That sensation of waiting to live that was torture is at an end.

Now I just need my corset and I have it all.

Beauty

I am tired of the stereotype of beauty. I grew up being told that a girl should like men who look like Brad Pitt. I like women with soft lush curves, big and strong ones too. Many would consider my past conquests masculine, or overly thin, or fat. No one type fits what I like. I too have “strange” preferences for the men I have dated and these too tend towards those with meat on their bones, they have body hair, they are dark skinned, fair skinned, or really just alive.

Most of them, but not all, are tall. With either sex I tend to reach out for the taller people, though tall has changed in meaning since the wheelchair entered my life. I can’t look up at my baby brother without hurting my neck. He sits down for me, and still towers above. He is about seven feet tall. I love height because my family is full of tall people, except my own biological father. I associate height with safety. What does this mean about the other standards of beauty? Are we all programmed to like certain things?

Yes!

A huge part of my persecution in this life has been based on facets of my physical appearance. I have red hair, very pale skin that burns the instant sun touches it, soft full lips, and I have always had curves. My smallest size is a fourteen. I was barely eating to maintain that. My body needs meat on it. I am simply a curvaceous woman. I do have an ample bosom as well, and all of these things have been picked at.

I grew up being told I should be blonde. Blonde meant perfection. I hardly find blondes attractive as a result. I am aware that most of my siblings and my own mother are all blonde, and this factors in too. I think Blue Eyes are the best, though any shade is lovely to me. Blue eyes were mocked, because they are pale. Being a minority as a white person is very rare in any part of the world, the patriarchal structure still dominates and is usually white, even in countries where white is the minority. I have always been told my pale skin makes me wealthy. Whiteness in my state is a status symbol.

In India women who are by nature in the darker end of the spectrum are considered harder to marry off, they have less value based on something as simple as their genetic make up. The lighter you are, the more respect you can gain. This is White Privilege. It has defaced an entire culture, this love of all things white has poisoned us. You see whiteness in media, dominantly with able bodied super muscular WHITE men. You see their blonde perfection everywhere. I think back to the Nazi Propaganda studies group I was a member of in High School, and that is what I see. Reflections of past propaganda, continued, accepted, and fully realized.

Curly hair is considered disheveled. Girls with curly hair wake up at odd hours to iron their hair out. I think it is lovely, and my standard of beauty includes the use of a curling iron to add curls to my hair. This is rare, the era of the Super Perm died out at the end of the Eighties, except for a few hold outs.

I am told I must wear make up to seem presentable. I do, at times like to wear make up but I do it when it feels good. Usually I will also hide some of my facial scars under make up, if I cannot shake my feelings of Paranoia. I do not allow myself to wear make up on days when my self worth is being questioned, or when my confidence would hinge only on sultry red lips.

As I write this I am watching a movie that has what I consider the equivalent of Black Face. Sophia Loren is the Millionairess, Peter Sellers is the Indian Doctor who teaches her how to be more than a spoiled snob. This movie is full of propaganda that is anti woman, anti persons of color. I was enjoying it until I realized the fallacy that a white man is playing an Indian, with hardly any alteration of skin color and a very cliched accent.

I also note that the famed figure of Sophia Lauren seems to be aided via a corset. I might be wrong, but the extremes to her figure seem to need assistance. It doesn’t feel natural to me, though it does fit the “standard of beauty”. Her hair is lightened a bit, and of course she is always shown in posh and polished appeal during this film.

I do not think Brad Pitt is handsome. I think he is mediocre. This is all about looks, not his acting. I will not malign someone for having a career. I will however state that I do not understand the requirement to find him attractive. If you want to know who I find attractive in Hollywood, you will have to dig deep. There are few people that strike me as gorgeous or stunning, especially since we have entered the Anorexia Age of Hollyweird. Health is beautiful. That inner glow of self acceptance can make anyone gorgeous.

Since my blossoming into awareness about privilege I have seen more beauty in the world. This side effect shocked me. I like to compliment people when I find them attractive, and I have had the urge to tell the entire world how beautiful it is. The beauty I see is nothing like what is in the Movies or on Television. I live in a world of diversity. The people I see daily are of mixed race, from other countries, and their voices alone are a rhythmic song.

I am not beautiful by the overly BMI oriented modern sensibilities. I never will be. I’d have to break my bones, cut my body apart, inject myself with dye, and lose my sense of self. (This statement does not mean that those who naturally fit this standard are not beautiful, it is merely a rejection of the expectation to alter myself to be just like them) I reject the need to starve myself to fit a rare body type. I reject the fashion industry’s expectation that “fat” women do not like Fashion. I LOVE clothes shopping, and am discovering that I could easily spend a million dollars on cute shoes. These are cliches about womanhood, and yet you will find I only have four pairs of shoes, two for winter, two for summer. My clothing is all rather sensible, black, and boring.

I am pigeon holed by my lack of thinness. I am trapped by the need for others to stigmatize those who are not identical to them. I am not a Stepford Cripple, I am not anything but a person. I am flesh, I am bone, and I have soul. You are beautiful. My friend who is an immigrant is beautiful. I love listening to her voice, the way that she sings while she speaks entrances me. My friend who is the son of immigrants is beautiful. He cannot see that because his world is full of hatred, hatred of the Other.

I discuss privilege with my friends. It is an unavoidable conversation now. Eventually it is addressed either by discussion of politics, feminism, or simply the venting of frustration. I no longer hide my beliefs, to survive until the next day. I am free to speak them. Most of the time these conversations hold a similar impact, someone learns something. We all do really. My friends are all shapes and sizes. I have friends who are thin, blonde, and blue eyed. I have friends who are extraordinarily fat, but give hugs that are so soft. I have friends of every shape, size, mental capacity, and ability. My friends are all beautiful. You are beautiful.

Stop stigmatizing people for not being clones. Clones are scary, according to the media pundits and science fiction. Every time the word cloning is mentioned on TV it is with the hush of fear. Disability also has that hush of fear. Stop being afraid. Fear stops you from living life. This doesn’t mean you should ignore some fears, such as the fear of hunger or the fear of a snake bite. Stop fearing things that are different. If you do not understand something, educate yourself. Don’t fear it. Don’t shun it.

This includes fine art, not so fine art, but most especially people. Children are people. Women are people. I see often abuse launched at those who are different. I experience it every time I go out. I was reminded however, of the power of kindness and decorum.

I write often about the importance of gentle resistance, passive resistance, and not striking back. I admit I fail this way at times but, every so often I am given the reminder I need, the proof that I am right. I had transferred out of my chair at Sam’s Club, into the van and rolled down the window. Beside me a harried mother of two beautiful children, her disabled mother, and a cart of groceries struggled. I watched in silence, until they were about to leave, calling out to the woman that her mother had forgotten her cane.

Her son looked up as she thanked me, glad to not have to spend another twenty five dollars on a cane, and said, “Mommy, that’s the lady from the Walmart with the kitty!” His mother paused and said, “She was on TV too.” We talked then, and I complimented her for handling the stress. I could see she was frazzled, and I let her kids talk to Sprite while she settled them in. No petting of course, but, I told her how beautiful her family is. Three words. “You have a beautiful family.” Okay, five. I never was good with numbers.

She froze, looked at her kids, and then smiled. “I wish everyone could see that.” The thing I have not mentioned is this. Her children are Triracial. They are of Asian, African, and Caucasian Descent. I wanted to take them home with me, their sweetness gave me a rare pang of desire for Motherhood. It went away before we were out of the parking lot, but not the reminder that everything you do has a lasting impression. Every word, Every laugh, Every shout, every time you teach someone something. There is impact.

What draws me to people is never what they look like. It is instead their personality, the joy they have for life, and sometimes the hope that I can grow up to be like them. I may never grow up. I am always surprised when I realize for a moment I am not a child anymore. It fades, but, that too reminds me to be innocent.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not what media tells us it should be. Beauty is merely in the existence of life. Flowers, Puppies, kittens, children, lovers. All beautiful. Be you a Homosexual, Transgendered, A person of non Caucasian ethnicity, red haired, blonde haired, black haired, green haired, or even a strange shade of orange. You are beautiful.

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