#54essays: Butterscotch

I just finished my sister Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage and loved it! Took me only a few hours. When I picked it up from the librarian, I almost smiled sweetly and said oh that’s my sister! I am so proud. In any case, a few lines gave me pause but this one:

“Even when I’m happy, there is a something between me and whatever good news comes my way. It’s like eating a butterscotch still sealed in the wrapper.” (Jones, 80).

This one, made me take a pen to write it down. It seemed to describe the ravages of mental illness very well. There is almost always a fear about being and feeling completely at ease in a happy thought or in something pleasant that happens to you. Take this is multiply it by 500. It’s worse when you are caught in the throes of a particularly bad stroke of luck and life seems to be playing a sick joke on you. Then, you are staring at a bowl of butterscotch candy and when you touch one, you find out they are all just wrappers. At this moment I can’t see the forest for the trees.

About 11 days ago I endured a seemingly innocuous fall. More like a bad twist. My back which has forever been full of problematic discs had flared up and in an attempt to prevent the back from hurting even more, I was lifting from the knees or at least trying to. I twisted my entire right leg and hip somehow managing to hit the driveway in this process and 24 hours later I was in the ER in excruciating pain. Nothing was broken once they saw the xrays. Nothing was torn. I just knew I couldn’t walk and it scared me. It took two ER visits for someone to finally tell me I had two level 3 sprains of my hip pointer and knee, hand me a pair of crutches which they didn’t waste much time adjusting, and send me on my way with a promise of 6 weeks max.

I didn’t have 6 weeks! They wanted to know if I needed a work excuse. I laughed that deranged laugh when things are so comical, it aint even funny. I am the work and I can’t be excused. They thought me clever. All the same, when they brought me the crutches and set me afloat from the ER, the pain, the shame of feeling pain, and the anger at a god and a universe that was unfair left me crumpled in the ER entryway. One addict, kindly came to my aid to see if I had broken anything else, assuming the crutches I had meant broken bones. I whispered thanks and just sat there sobbing until my LYFT ride showed up. It took all of my will not to yell at him when he asked how I was doing. Like you idiot, you picked me up from the ground of the entryway into the ER with a pair of crutches; you couldn’t be that clueless. When I drove LYFT, I had picked up a woman from an ER entrance and my first reaction was honey what happened to you. And it seemed like she needed someone to listen. Our 30 minute ride was cathartic for her. But I guess that is maybe just female instinct. But I digress.

So I came home armed with narcotics of all sorts and muscle relaxers. In 11 days, I have taken them all because much as I hate drugs, the pain even though only slightly relieved, has been beyond my endurance. I came home, hoping that they didn’t really mean the 6 weeks and set about making plans. I had canceled Hills that day I fell but I didn’t have the luxury of canceling again or so I thought. As I sit here, I have canceled my pop-up three weeks, with my fingers crossed and hoping for the best but yesterday and today, I came face to face with reality. I wasn’t even standing to brush my teeth. I could barely  stand to cook an egg each morning how did I think I could cook a whole spread of 4 entrees and two sides for my pop-up? I have cried and railed and prayed and pleaded for this healing to come quick but all I could see was the hopelessness of my situation until just now when I started writing.

I have worked two days in the whole month of May! Two! I have managed to pay rent, car, electricity, and water because I have some very devoted friends. I would for sure be out on the street if they hadn’t pitched in. In a way, even though life sucks right now, it also doesn’t because I can still sleep in my bed and hobble around my own apartment for the love of these friends. Sure the situation is hopeless because 6 weeks is a huge chunk of time when you own your own business. And one you can’t run from your bed. From those who paid rent, water, the car, and electricity, to the one who unloaded my car, which had been sitting full of pop-up food since the day I fell, to the one who fixed me quiche and took out my trash, to the one who booked and paid for a deep tissue massage, and the one three time zones away who texted me on the hour; these women have come through and they have fed me those butterscotch candies from wherever they were hiding, wrapperless. 🙂

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