Underneath my yellow skin

Speaking my truth (no matter how weird)

Talking about vaxxes, it often comes up that they are ‘not that bad’. Back when they were first rolled out, there was a concerted effort on the left to  exhort people into getting them. I have no problem with that. People should get vaxxed if they can. But, I didn’t like how they were saying it was no big deal and scoffing the notion that it might be anything other than a minor nuisance for people.

I have had three vaccination shots including one booster. The first one was on my birthday is 2021. It was horrible and I suffered greatly from it. I was expecting it to be terrible because I react badly to flu shots as well. In fact, I stopped getting the flu shot because of how horrible I reacted to it. My doctor snapped at me that it was better than being dead, which, true, but it still sucked.

When I got my first vaccination shot, my arm swelled up, was burning hot, and throbbed for weeks. I was exhausted, fatigued, and sore as well. Everything slowly dissipated on the daily, but my arm did not fully recover in time for the next shot. Seriously. When I went to get my second vax, I still had a bump from my first. Three weeks and a day later.

So. When I saw all the tweets making fun of people who were hesitant to get the vax, I spoke up. I tweeted my experience, emphasizing that it was worth it.

I got a response from someone who admonished me, saying we should encourage people to get their shots. He claimed that my tweet would deter people because I was very honest about the side effects I had experience f rom it–the first vax to be specific. One of my fave tweeters came to my defense, saying he would rather know the effects ahead of time so he could prepare for it. Others chimed in to agree, but I really had a moment of ‘was I wrong?’ when I received the initial scolding tweet.

Here’s the thing. I prefer to know the possible effects ahead of time. It makes it easier for me to prep myself for dealing with said effects. It’s not as if they would suddenly magically not happen if I hadn’t talked about them. And, yes, it may put off some people from getting the shot, but wouldn’t it be much worse if they went into it thinking it’d be a breeze and it knocked them on their ass? I was careful to emphasize that I was rare in my reactions and that I had a shitty immune system. I said that for most people, it would probably be ok. I just wanted people to be prepared in case they had a reaction like mine.

In part because I grew up with parents who constantly diminished or dismissed everything out of hand, I am very sensitive to having all the knowledge ahead of an event. I Google. I talk to people. I hearken back to my past experiences. I feel much better when I go into something prepared then when I try to gloss right by it.

I feel much better if I go into something knowing what I’m going to get. Because I have terrible reactions to shots, I was prepared for it going in. Had I taken all those tweets at face value, I would have been upset and pissed as hell when I had such a big reaction to  the first vax.

Honestly, I am that annoying ‘well actually’ person. I grew up with parents who gaslit me about everything, including my own feelings. My father doesn’t care about anyone or anything that doesn’t pertain to him. My mother doesn’t see things she doesn’t want to see/makes them into thing she wants to see. Like a few years after I told her I was bi, I mentioned something about it, and she said in a dismissive tone, “Oh, you still think you’re that?” Like, just because I hadn’t mentioned it in a few years (gee, I wonder why), I was no longer bi. She didn’t like it when I came out to her so she pretended it never happened. She and my brother both have a habit of not remembering bad things. Which, I mean, that sounds lovely, but it’s not how my brain works at all.

They both do it for self-defense reasons, but with different roots. With my brother, it seems more natural and not something he’s doing deliberately. With my mother, it’s not that she’s doing it deliberately, but it’s…she cannot tolerate anything negative about herself or her vision of how she/I/the environment should be. Once I realized that she saw things the way she wanted them to be and not how they actually were, life made much more sense. She had the end result in her mind and then worked backwards from there.

This was very clear when I said something very negative about my father. My brother said he didn’t know what had happened, but he stood by me regardless. My mother said that it couldn’t have happened because if it had, she would have to leave my father. She stopped there, but it was clearly implied that the thought of leaving my father was a no-go, so she had to deny what I had said.

This was the way my mother thought in general. My father is the center of her world and she will never leave him. Everything else has to revolve around that. If that meant lying? Fine. If that meant pushing me under the bus? Hell, yes. If that mean denying a fight that literally happened the day before? She would do that as well.

Once I fully digested this, I had to write off my mother as a reliable narrator. She remembers things as how she wanted them to be, not as how they actually were. One example, there was a summer when she got it into her head to badger me about having children every day (while she was here for her yearly visit). I have been quite clear since I was in my early twenties that I did not want children. At all. I was repulsed by the idea of having children if I were to be honest. Not by others having them, but by me having them.

I was very clear to my mother that I did not want children because I knew that I had to be firm and unyielding or she would push me until I snapped. I never wavered. I never equivocated. Every time she brought up children, I shot her down. Then the next day, I would have to do it again because she would bring it up again. I hated it. I hated her by the end of that summer. She could not accept that I did not want children, for whatever reason.

Many years later, she brought up that summer and commented on what fun we had. I looked at her in astonishment because all I remembered about that summer is how much she pushed me to have children. That would not make her look good, which was why she forgot it happened.

Because of this, I am the keeper of the memories. My own memory is a little janky now, but at least I have an excuse (brain damage from my medical crisis).



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