Borderlands

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We who are darker than blue are consigned to endlessly gather our body parts, our psyches from the four corners of the earth. We have been scattered like bread crumbs and devoured as such. I can’t find a trace of me….I am in a bird’s treacherous beak, I am trampled beneath a small animals scrambling, scurrying feet. I am no where and everywhere. I am in the belly of the earth. I am hands digging and endlessly gathering. 

We who are darker than blue are forever archaeologists, searching for ourselves, our tombs..our birthplaces..our homes.

I am in no mood for dissection. To have my skull cracked like a bluebird’s egg and peered into.

I can’t find my car keys. I did not sleep well. These same nightmares that wait until dawn to unravel and leave me torn between fight or flight far too early in the morning, these same nightmares rest in my belly. I burp fear and shit ghosts.

When the psychologist from the Veterans Hospital Women’s Trauma and Disorder Clinic calls me to confirm our appointment,  I am in no mood for her soft way of speaking. I will not break from loud noises, strong voices. I will not break. Trauma has not made me fragile. I am not a bluebird’s tiny egg.

I survived a man pushing himself into my apartment and grabbing my breasts and forcing his fingers into me, telling me I wanted it. Some dumbfuck Portuguese construction worker who decided because I smiled a little too often and offered him an ice coffee on a hot day, that I wanted his ragged dick.

Hell, don’t speak softly. Speak loudly. I will respect you more. I have become much like those who have preyed upon me. Weakness makes my belly growl…I ll eat you alive, you and your kindness. Speak up. It wont break me.

I am a woman who has been through shit…a lot of fucked up shit.

I arrive 30 minutes late to my trauma assessment. Despite the fact the psychologist called at least three hours before the appointment to remind me.

There is something off-putting about her. She has the ability to over talk me in a breezy, breathless manner..as if her heart is caught in her throat.

I know this much. She doesn’t bother with messiness. I can tell from her tightly crossed legs and boring jewelry. She wears those flat shoes every white woman in Boston is sporting, the ones that turn up at the toes making them look like Christmas elves or urban fairies.

She doesn’t listen. She..(why bother with yet another name ) is giddy in her new Ph.d just as I was with my freshly inked law degree.

I sit in an office that is not hers. Wonder about the person it truly belongs to, another Ph.d, I know because his credentials are displayed throughout the space. It is too cold in this space and the chair is uncomfortable. Every thing is wrong. The papers she shuffles in her hands, her smile – which is a generic non prescription smile served to women veterans like me. Those who come up slightly chipped like worn tea cups and then finally get dropped a little too often.

Now we are broken. Broken and breathing. The system was not equipped for our survival.

“Are you familiar with Border Line Personality Disorder?” she asks. I feel sick. What in the fuck? I drove an hour in Boston traffic for her to deliver this label. I instantly raise my hands. She begins telling what my answers on her assessment have indicated and wants to hand me a report. I don’t want it. She can shove her neatly typed, organized report up her boring jewelry, elf shoe wearing ass.

I am more than numbers and scores and recent research. THIS BITCH HAS ONLY MET WITH ME TWICE. SHE CANT POSSIBLY KNOW FROM NUMBERS AND BRIEF ANSWERS WHAT FITS ME. FUCK THE RESEARCH.

” I am not that, before you say it…I am not that,” I say firmly. This is not a protest or debate. Three months before I agreed to a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder just to receive some sort of treatment.  Bipolar was not a new diagnosis, I have heard it for years and never digested it. I accepted the treatment as a means to an end. It was something.

Along the way, the path of least resistance cost me my trust of the mental health care system and my own decisions about health care. I just gave my body over to science without so much of a whimper. I guess this was the easier path and I always figured that I knew less in the situation. Who was I to protest. Besides a label, gave me a way of dealing with myself.

It made everything easier. Like a canned good neatly labeled. You just know what you are getting or supposed to be getting. It never dawns on you that you may open a can labeled black eyed peas and there be baked beans in the damned can. That never dawns on you. The damn label, may be wrong.

I have been on Lithium, Paxil, Rispordal, Clonopin, you name the drug and I have probably had it and damn near lost my mind taking it. Lithium caused me cystic acne that took two years of intensive dermatology treatment to get rid of and now this..She wants to tell me that was all wrong. Years of that diagnosis now caves in to this diagnosis, one she admits gets a bad reputation.

Let me be clear. I have never done a drug in my life,  engaged in risky behavior or had a problem maintaining relationships…not even the relationships where the man had one foot up my ass and one hand in my purse taking what he could.

She, I explain has reached me in the place in between. The place where women like me are forced to live.

The borderlands. Feminist, Latina, POWERHOUSE WRITER, Gloria Anzaldua, wrote of this type of living.

It is a defiant life. The tiperope balancing of language, culture and resistance to the movement that insists on dismantling and dismembering women of color.

A calloused foot in one world, another foot in an opposing place. This is where most of our existence is centered – the place of opposition. Only briefly do we rest. She has met me in that place. Where I am told my skin is too dark, my hair too nappy and wild, I am too angry, I don’t work hard enough. I am just visible enough for the majority to say I am nothing.

I am a black woman.

I am black woman shedding skin to a white woman with shoes curled a the toe.

Everyone knows white women save worlds…well, at least don’t tell a white woman with a Ph.D  she aint doing shit but taking up your time and making you spend gas money you aint got. Dont tell her that…because then you are angry and she begins to over speak you and then finally she says, you don’t want to do the work of healing. As if I have been crawling towards healing for 46 years of my damn life?

Since I am 30 minutes late, that gives her exactly 30 minutes of our alloted hour to speak and I’ll be damn if I will let her get a word in edgewise. I tell her what the Veterans Hospital is doing is abuse. I tell her she is wrong and that to say I don’t want to do the work of healing is frankly insulting.

The work of healing has been my legacy. I am healing for generations of black women. I am healing for the first woman to step off a slave ship belly round with life and ears tuning desperately into foreign tongues and strange red earth beneath her feet.

I am healing for grandmothers whom I shall never see but whose reflections probably peer back at me from the looking-glass.

I am healing for the wet-nurse that probably fed this woman’s great-grandmother or great-grandfather.

Do I want to do the work of healing with my legs spread so far apart – I am straddling worlds. One leg here and another here. My heart is split. Beats irregularly. Is that Borderline Personality Disorder?

One identity and another straddling one another. Living in between the two. Homeless or rather a nomad, traveling between my two homes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Borderlands

  1. great piece for Mental Illness Awareness Month and insight for those like me learning to understand “mental illness” from first person point of view. Peace into you on this journey

    Liked by 1 person

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