Thinking Out Loud

Some days I look at myself and it’s like “Why are you behaving like a schoolgirl? Get a grip!” But then I wonder if all this talk of growing up and maturing is just a neat trick designed to make us less afraid of taking on responsibility. I have to admit I kind of like feeling like a schoolgirl every once in awhile, in the same way I’m happy to be carded at the liquor store. On the one hand, I often feel very alienated from my body and all its aches, pains, malfunctions, and failings. But on the other hand, my body *is* me, and I identify with and (generally) take a lot of pride (and even pleasure) in how I appear in the world. When my body ceases to exist, I cease to exist. Damn you, Descartes, and your stupid mind-body split.

I think this simultaneous connection to our bodies and alienation from our bodies makes the mental aspects of chronic illness and chronic pain—brainfog, headaches, sleep disturbance, cognitive problems, etc—the hardest to bear. It’s like everything else is ravaged and all we have left is our minds. Until we don’t anymore. And people who have never been chronically ill or disabled don’t—can’t—understand. I’m not a praying kind of girl, but I do hope that I get to keep my intelligence for a significant while longer. I’m not sure what I would do if I had CNS lupus and could witness myself declining, my mental faculties slipping away. I know that must come eventually, for everyone, but I hope it comes for me in old age, like a slowly emptying hourglass, almost imperceptible.

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