as soon as i slow down i can see it’s not about the sugar, it’s about the pain.
it’s not just eating more greens, cutting out this or that from my diet, doubling my water, exercising. those are good smart things for humans, yes. but i have to give myself adequate room for the pain.
there is a way sugar is, in nature, a way we are meant to have it. the impact of a banana is so different from the impact of a bar of sea salted caramel chocolate with pecan bits…my body knows, because it is of the earth. it remembers surviving and grieving before sugar was our primary collective comfort.
it remembers that pain takes time.
beyond that sweet way of nature, sugar has a disorganizing effect, blurring the edges of life between infusions. i was feeling something hard but then i found the whiskey.
perhaps this is why we start comforting and rewarding children with sugar so early. the pain is coming and it cannot be avoided. but here is something faster, more tangible than god, and it will make the pain taste sweet.
after the service there were cookies, i anticipated those more than scripture.
then later in life you, i, try to make grief sweet.
in the quiet and the stillness i can feel the ache of who i don’t have, the presence throughout my body, the longing to hold my unborn nephew or niece, to look at charity’s smile and tell her how much i respect her, to hold my grandfather’s big hand and let him pray over me, to watch david perform a new poem, to ask sheddy about love, to meet aiyana and treasure and eric and renisha and mike and trayvon and jordan and see how precious they all are.
yesterday i was biking up a hill, and i tilted my head down so that my new turquoise straw hat, which is very glamorous, blocked the view. i convinced myself i was going downhill, looking only at the concrete moving under me, thinking like ender. i willed it into being a coasting, not an effort. it worked most of the way and i was giggling. and then the truth showed up in my thighs, my knees. look up. this is the hill.
this is the grief.
the dissonance comes when the sugar high, the delusion of sweetness, the delusion of control, is gone. the pain is not sweet, even though it is love. and it is not gone. it is sitting as a sharp emptiness in my gut, and it wants to be respected.
not reasoned with. it is, i am the one who has to accept it.
sugar is a white noise i make to block out the sharpness, the wailing, replace it with insatiability. i want, i need, i am alive.
then it’s dark, and there is no desire that will feed me, there is just sitting with what is, humbling myself before the things i cannot have, letting them go.
when i lose something, i try to keep tokens of it in my body. perhaps if i am bigger, softer, i can fit more memories inside myself, carry all the lit flames with me forever. this is semi-conscious now, i can’t claim the cluelessness of my younger grief and comfort eating. now i know, i know what i am trying to do, i know that it doesn’t work, i go through the motions, still hurting.
what i can carry has no weight. the little essence of a human, the distinctions, they don’t need heft, they only need time. i have to sit still and say their names. i have to let that sharp feeling move through me gathering up breath and tears and volume.
sugar is a false comfort, wrapping a festering wound in a beautiful scarf when actually it needs oxygen.
i have to let it out.
everything is undoable, and no two people, even in the most intimate togetherness, remember the same way exactly what is done. even if i can’t remember it, what i have consumed lives in me, what i have loved, when i have fucked up, when i have misunderstood, where i have held my integrity. it’s done, it’s perceived, it happened.
i have to remember what we did. i only have to remember my part of it, but i have to remember it.
my perspective sometimes feels so tiny, compromised. sometimes it seems like only the parts of my memory that hurt are really clear. maybe everyone isn’t like this. maybe it is a choice?
yesterday i felt 36. i was wearing sensible shoes and a wide brimmed hat, overt glossy sunscreen. i thought it would redirect certain attention, but still there were men in town trying to speak to me about sex while using other words, asking me to go swim or walk with them. i felt amused because couldn’t they read the CLOSED sign of my shoes? i felt enraged because couldn’t they see that i was preparing to cry?
i am learning to shake my head no in a more definitive way.
i am learning to care for my body.
i am learning to place my longevity ahead of social norms for how a woman like me should present herself.
i am learning i can’t make everything feel good.
i am learning to be still and quiet for a long time, with myself.
i am learning the limitations of coping.
i am learning to feel.
i think pain is teaching me these lessons.