One thing about my medical experience is that it really separated the wheat from the chaff. What I mean is that many of the things I was anxious about in the Before (hospital) Times, simply do not matter any longer. It’s hard to talk about it without seeming condescending or as if I’m glossing over legitimate problems. Body issues are real. They are serious. I struggled with them for decades and they have deeply affected me. And I no longer have them. They completely disappeared during my medical trauma.
Same with any desire to smoke. I smoked two to three cigarettes a day before I landed in the hospital. I did it in quarter to half a cigarette at a time. I never smoked outside the home, meaning I never took my cigarettes out with me. I couldn’t smoke when I was in the hospital, obviously, and I had no desire once I got out. It was as if I had never smoked, and I’ve been a light smoker for decades. I never cared much that I smoked a few cigs a day, nor do I miss it at all.
Then, there are other issues such as family dysfunction that have been exacerbated by the experience to the point of near breaking. I had to realize some hard truths about my family during that time–really sit with them because things are not going to change. All the things I knew about my family but kind of pushed to the back of my mind came roaring to the forefront and refused to be ignored any longer. It smacked me in the face and said that it wasn’t going anywhere so I better learn to deal with it.
First, the rage. Oh, the rage. I’m furious that I was the one who went through a life-changing event (life-threatening!) and my father managed to make it all about him. I’m not surprised by it, mind you, but I just could not deal with it while also dealing with the actual medical trauma itself. My brain really couldn’t process the thought that he was making it all about him when I had died twice and came back twice. That really underlined that he was incapable of thinking about anyone other than himself. Again, I knew that before I ended up in the hospital, but my medical trauma just emphasized the point and made it impossible for me to ignore it or sweep it under the rug.
I have to find a therapist to help me deal with it because I can feel it hardening into a ball right under my sternum. Or, conversely, it’s like an abscessed tooth that I keep poking with my tongue. I cannot get over that in my most vulnerable time, my father could not stop himself from sucking all the air out of the room and begrudging me even an iota of–I don’t even know how to say it. Attention? Grace? Space to be. I keep harping on the first week I came home, but it’s because if there was any time when my father could have shown that he didn’t need to constantly be the center of attention, that was it. I’m not even saying to abdicate it completely, but for an hour or two a day. Surely that’s not too much to ask. I say that, but I knew it was too much to ask from my father. As for my mother, what she said she wanted to do and what she actually did was vastly different. This wasn’t new, either, but, again. If in the most dire time of my life she couldn’t support me, then it was a lost cause.
K and I used to talk about that meaningless question of if two people you loved were both drowning and you could only save one, who would it be? K hates it with a passion (we were talking about partner and bestie) because she said she loved me as much as she loved her husband, in different ways. She didn’t like having to rank her love for people. I appreciated that and I agreed that it was hard to rank your love, nor should you have to. This was before she had her child, I hasten to add. The reason I bring this up is because I’ve always known that my mother places my father first in her life. She would say it’s God, but I’m not so sure about that. At any rate, my father is the first human in her life. It’s not even close. She says that my brother and I are first in her heart, which, fine and dandy, but her actions say otherwise.
Everything she does is with the aim of making life easy for my father. She’s so attenuated to him, it’s painful to witness. She’s said that he knows when her attention is not on him and punishes her accordingly. She didn’t say the latter part, but I knew that was what she was insinuating. She can’t do anything without first thinking about how it would affect him. She tries to excuse it by citing Taiwanese tradition and her Christianity (concerning her wedding vows), but those are both just excuses. Or rather, there are bad things about every culture and there’s also taking tradition to the extreme–both of t]which are on display here.
Before my hospital stay, I could tolerate her when she was away from him–which was mostly how we interacted. When the two of them are together, it’s incredibly toxic for anyone around them. It’s not good for them, either (codependency is one hell of a drug), but if they’re both into it, there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s only when it bleeds over onto me that I care .I care a lot.
My medical trauma cut through a lot of the bullshit in my life and showed me the truth. Sometimes it was a uplifting truth (I’m cute as fuck! My body is fucking amazing!) and sometimes it was harsh and dispiriting (my family is broken beyond repair). Being in the hospital for two weeks forced me to quit smoking–and I don’t miss it at all. Much of my depression lifted and a great deal of my anxiety has mitigated as well. My gender issues have….not disappeared, but just aren’t at the forefront of my brain any longer. I’d rather not be called ‘she’ or referred to as a woman, but it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, either. Why? Because my issues with it always had more to do with the dysphoria I felt between my own experience and what society deemed womanly. I never felt like I was a man or that I was not a woman, per se–just not what society would classify as female.
And my hospital stay made me not give a shit any longer. It did that for a lot of things as it really crystalized what was and wasn’t important to me. It’s mindboggling how some things I’ve struggled with all my life simply don’t matter any longer. Other things I’ve tried to ignore all my life have flared up so I can no longer ignore them. It’s a mindfuck and one that I’ll need some time to digest. Fortunately, I have my bonus days so hopefully, I’ll have time to explore all the ramifications of what happened to me.