InkTober 2017: Day 31 – Mask

I’m done. I finished the InkTober 2017 challenge. I’m a few days late but I needed to take time out for self-care at a couple of points, and I’m glad I did because it tells me I’m prioritizing my health. The last prompt for the challenge is ‘mask’, which is an easy word for me to relate to.

Psychologically and emotionally, everyone wears a mask. Some of us wear more masks than others do. Each mask helps us to fit into a specific situation. Who are we when we are with our family, our friends, or in our workplaces? Then who are we when we are alone when the mask(s) can come off?

I wear multiple masks. More than ever, I wear them to obscure the effects of my illness. I’ve become quite good at hiding what my body is doing to me psychologically and emotionally. I don’t believe anyone, even those who know me well, have a clear picture of who I’ve become over the course of the past four years. Because of this, I’m convinced these masks have to stay on, otherwise my family and friends might be the ones who can’t cope with what I’m living with each day.

Although, I must say, wearing the many masks I do when I feel pain all the time is tiring. Always being hopeful is tiring. Always trying to be cheerful is tiring. Always trying to make others worry about me less is tiring. Most of all, always acting as if I’m okay so others don’t treat me different is tiring. Yet, I will continue to wear my masks because the alternative, showing the rawness of what I’m living with, isn’t an option.

 

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InkTober 2017: Day 30 – Found

Wouldn’t you know it, I’m two prompts away from wrapping up my InkTober 2017 challenge and my mind is blanking. I have an image for this second last prompt, ‘found’, but I’m having a hell of a time thinking of something to write to go with the image I have in mind. My thoughts did turn to something that has raised many questions for me in life but it might offend more people than I care to. Discussions, or the odd jokes, about finding religion can hit sensitive spots or a low bar depending on one’s perspective. However, religion doesn’t align in any way with anything happening in my life now so I’ll save my thoughts for another time.

Therefore, I’m giving my mind a rest and I’ll draw my sketch as soon as I’ve found my glasses.

 

InkTober 2017: Day 29 – United

I can’t count the number of weddings I’ve been to over my lifetime. I’ve mostly attended them as a guest. However, I’ve also been a bridesmaid many times; and once I acted as a coordinator to make sure a couple’s day went smoothly. I wish I could say all the weddings I’ve attended have been wonderful but that would be a lie. Most of them have been incredible days for celebration, where I’ve witnessed two people deeply in love and committed to sharing their lives together exchange vows. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Not every couple united in matrimony should be. The worst feeling in the world might be sitting at a wedding ceremony where you have intimate knowledge about the people marrying that does not bode well for their future together. I’ve been in this position a few times; and it’s a terrible thing. Having the feeling in your gut, or actually knowing, the marriage won’t last but not being able to say or do anything.

When one of these marriages fails, which they inevitably do, there is no satisfaction in its failure. If you are close to either person, you become a witness to the painful unraveling and separation of two lives that may have united just months before. You get a front row seat to their pain, their anger, and their tears; and while they divide possessions and abandon the matrimonial home, the support of friendship(s) becomes just as necessary, if not more needed, than it was on the day of their union.

 

InkTober 2017: Day 28 – Fall

It’s been said that the closest humans would get to flying as birds do was to be on board a plane – don’t ask me who said that because I’m too lazy to look it up. However, since then, we’ve created countless devices to propel and suspend humans in flight. One of the most exhilarating ways is skydiving. I’ve only done it once, but it was an incredible experience and as soon as my feet landed on solid ground I was ready to get back in the plane, to climb back up to 12,000 feet (3,657.6 meters), and jump again.

A skydiving fall happens in two phases. The first phase happens as soon as you jump out of the plane: It’s a free-fall. It’s fast. It’s an adrenaline rush. The skydiver feels ice-cold air whipping at her/his face. However using one’s body the speed of the fall and the direction in which one turns are controllable. The second phase begins when one pulls the parachute’s ripcord. If my memory serves me correctly, the ripcord must be pulled when one reaches the 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) mark on the altimeter attached to a strap of the parachute pack.

When the skydiver pulls the ripcord, the opening of the parachute causes a hard pull up before a calm fall down starts. This calm part of the descent can also be controlled, but this time it’s through manipulating the parachute. There are cables attached to the parachute that one pulls to move right or left or to slow your fall. I remember that as I floated toward the ground with the wind blowing around me, I felt incredibly free. I could see everything around me, in all directions, for miles, and I wanted to stay up in the sky indefinitely.

When I finally landed, I could barely contain the excitement I felt and nothing could erase the huge grin on my face; and I was ready to do it again. If it weren’t for the fact that I was with a group of friends with whom I had more plans for the rest of that day, I would have jumped on the next flight back up to 12,000 feet. Thankfully, I have photos and a video of that jump to remind me of that day, and who knows that I might not have multiple jumps in my future.

 

InkTober 2017: Day 27 – Climb

Stairs are my nemesis. That was not always the case. I used to bound up a flight of stairs with the energy of a young puppy. Now to climb up, or down, that same flight of stairs can feel like hard work. The pain that accompanied the growth that used to be in my pelvis remains – long after I had surgery to remove it. My doctors call the pain I still feel in my legs “referred pain.” They’ve explained that it happens because of how entwined and sensitive the body’s nervous system is; and how it sends messages to the brain.

Some things that used to be easy for me to tackle before my illness are now monumental tasks. Climbing stairs – up and down – is something that I must do carefully and slowly because if I don’t it causes the pain in my legs and hips to flare up to a level I can’t cope with very well. I’m not sure if this is something that will worsen if my doctors don’t find a treatment to restore my health and reduce – preferably eliminate my pain. However, while I wait, I’ll continue erring on the side of caution and climb stairs cautiously or take elevators where I can.

 

InkTober 2017: Day 26 – Squeak

Yesterday was a tough day. Physically the pain in my pelvis was high, especially in the area where I once had a sizeable growth that was surgically removed about three years ago; because of the pain, my anxiety level was also high and to manage it I had to take medication I hadn’t taken in about a year, to calm myself. The fact that there was so little sunshine didn’t help either. The sun seemed too weak to hold the thick clouds open long enough to shine through; and I missed it.

Since becoming ill, days like this tend to be hard for me. Without sunlight, my mood is usually low. My creative energy tends to get sapped because I need to direct it to do activities that on a good day I could do without much thought or effort. This means that my sketch for yesterday’s prompt isn’t very complex or detailed. My writing segment is also very short; and I’m posting them today.

I don’t take many baths. The idea of filling a tub with enough water to cover my entire body that I could potentially submerge my head under to practice holding my breath seems decadent and wasteful. However, if I did, regularly take baths I would want a rubber duck to keep me company in the tub. Not just an ordinary rubber duck floating around on top of the bathwater, but a bright yellow one that I can squeeze and make squeak. Because in my humble opinion, if a rubber duck can’t squeak it’s not worth having.

 

InkTober 2017: Day 25 – Ship

As far back as I can remember, travel has been part of my life. Whether it was road trips with family and/or friends or getting on a plane to explore some faraway place, I’ve been fortunate to visit some interesting places. In those travels, I’ve learned about cultures other than my own through the flavours of delicious foods and from warm conversations with people I wouldn’t otherwise have met.

Even though I love travel, not all of it has gone smoothly. I can think of two incidents that involved ships that made me sick to my stomach and fear for my life. Many years ago, I took a weeklong trip to France with one of my English cousins. This was long before the Chunnel (Channel Tunnel) came into being, so we crossed the English Channel on a 90-minute ferry ride to Calais. Other than our day-trip to the Palace of Versailles and the spectacular nighttime view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, our trip was uneventful. At least it was until our return crossing of the Channel.

During the return crossing, we sailed into a storm. At first, we assumed that as long as we were below deck and avoiding getting wet, all would be well. My cousin and I decided to get cups of tea to warm ourselves as the weather continued to worsen. We placed the tray with our cups of tea and a snack on the table where we sat. The sliding of that tray from one side of the table to the next made us aware of how rough the water was becoming; and it only got rougher. Eventually, the ferry was rocking so hard and steeply, that I grabbed my cousin and refused to let him go until the rocking calmed. Thankfully, it finally calmed, but not before my nausea reached a level where I could not control it.

The next time I was on a ship where the sailing was not so smooth, was during a cruise. I was traveling by myself, but I didn’t feel alone because I had assigned seating with a group of people for dinner every evening. In addition, early in the trip, I connected with a few other solo travelers and couples close to my age and most evenings after eating dinner, we chose an activity to do together. One evening while dancing in an onboard nightclub, the floor started to move below our feet. Then one of the women in our group lost her footing and fell to the floor – some members of my grouped teased her for not being able to handle a few drinks.

Shortly after that, a crewmember working in the nightclub started making his way around the room to tell guests they needed to close the club for the evening and that it was best for us all to return to our cabins. Why did they instruct us to end our night early? We were sailing through a huge storm, of course. The storm caused the ship to rock so much that when we looked out the porthole the horizon was wildly bobbing up and down. Seeing the horizon moving then feeling the unsteadiness of the ship under my feet made my stomach so queasy that going to my cabin was probably the best thing for me to do for the rest of that night.

I know my descriptions may not sound like terrible experiences. However, when the vessels meant to carry people safely over large bodies of water feel as if they’re about to capsize with you on them, it’s scary. Even so, I haven’t been put off the idea of traveling by ship in the future. The only question is, when will I be well enough to brave those rough unpredictable waters again…