Every morning I hand my son a peeled banana right before I put the coffee on. While handing it over, I pronounce every syllable of the fruit as dramatic and exaggerated as possible. His hand reaches to meet mine while he watches my mouth make pronunciations with wide eyes. Unbothered, he grabs the banana and attempts to pronounce the letter B. He looks like Bambi when he does this. Most times though, he’ll grab the banana quietly and walk away so he can smear it on a wall. I imagine all the ways he communicates his needs by crying, reaching, or pointing. My son is entirely aware of his needs and the instinct that they need to be expressed. My son has taught me that, in time, our brain and body connect, and we try our shot at effectively communicating. In turn, I realize how bad I am at communicating. In comparison to my son, who knows exactly what he wants, I am very bad at this. Do I know what I want? And if I did, would I know how to express it? The answer is simple: absolutely not.
While my son enjoys his banana, I contemplate making an omelet. At the same moment I consider it, I let it remain as fantasy and quickly scramble two eggs and pour it onto the skillet. To make an omelet takes awareness and preparedness, I think to myself, two qualities I seem to continually fall short of. I revel in ordering omelets at restaurants since I am seemingly unequipped at making one at home. By resorting to making scrambled eggs, I forfeit myself the willingness for discovery or failure, like answering “I’m fine” when asked how I’m doing. An omelet is an egg prepared to its highest form, just like a sentence expressing our truest self is a shot at communication in its most honest attempt. In reality, I am not fine, but I just can’t immerse into an explanation like I can’t get to making fluffy eggs cooked in other gourmet add-ons and adding a nice fold at the end. By the way, have I told you how much I revere omelets?
As a first time mom, there are days I’d like to exit the vehicle while it is still in motion. Even on those days, I will tell you that I am “fine.” To say my needs and how to express them are relegated in another galaxy floating around, utterly elusive to me, would be an understatement. Over time, my condition becomes so foreign I couldn’t tell you what I needed if you sat me down, bribing it out of me with a Gucci x The North Face jacket. Since having my son, I feel my identity slipping through my grasp more and more with each passing day.
To believe in God or in a guiding force because someone tells you to is the height of stupidity. We are given senses to receive our information with. With our own eyes we see, and with our skin we feel. With our intelligence, it is intended that we understand. But each person must puzzle it out for himself or herself.” – Sophy Burnham
When I was 20 years old, my boyfriend would often break up with me to be one with his conscience while attempting other pursuits. He would come back to me a few weeks later, with an attempt to win my back my love and affection, working the strings he had previously sewn onto me, and he would succeed. I welcomed manipulative love back into my life. That is, until the cycle began again, where he’d pull my strings enough until he became bored with them. Over time my emotions exhausted me, having no idea how to tangibly express them. And, over more time, I discovered a very inefficient outlet – nightclubs. Club lights, drinking, dancing, smoking, snorting, laughing, crying, sleeping, repeat. A club isn’t a place for emotional dialogue. Even if it was, the steady flow of alcohol helped bury them. I took him back every time, while every time losing a piece of myself. This was when the suppression of my emotions took root.
When I was 30 years old I miscarried, and it was my first encounter with grief. When grief enters your body vocabulary takes the backseat, and denial takes the wheel. When I miscarried, I was still “fine.” Denial led me to believe I was “thankful” and “grateful.” This was when the desire to suppress took a new form – not feeling worthy enough to express. I buried my grief for the sake of image. Moreover, subduing my emotions deeper helped me to stay aligned with my conditioning.
This morning, as I mindlessly powered through my scrambled eggs, I became enlightened about how my life is lived on Auto-Pilot. Over the past 10 months of quarantine, the goal has been simple: make it through the day. Eventually, the days blurred into each other. Living on Auto-Pilot prevents me from processing: I cannot grieve the state of the pandemic, the state of the country, the state of my mental status. And just like that, I slip further and further away.
I think this is the part of my essay where I talk about how I’ve learned how to tangibly find the words to express myself adequately. But, I have never been more out-of-touch with something like how I am with this topic. On the flip side, to make myself feel better, I can be acutely aware that my triggers and how I project emotions I am unaware of as “desirable.” To protect my vulnerability like a shield in the form of words never spoken, I can see myself like a cute lil’ Bratz doll or like a sweet-and-sour patch commercial. When actually, I have no fucking idea how to tell you that I am not okay, and I am so out of touch with how that came to be. But, throughout all of the triggers, skepticism, and self-doubt, I can take time to find awareness within myself and give myself a space. For example, “Hi, my name is Stephanie, and no, I am not fine; I can’t make an omelet and that just stinks.” So it is settled, making an omelet, just like finding the right sequence of words to accurately depict what I feel, to me, will be a lifelong pursuit.