Over the months, my pain’s dimmed to discomfort, then mellowed further into mild aches. Sure, I always feel like I’m wearing a too-tight metal bra under my skin, and as a belly-down sleeper, I often wake up sore. (I doze off lying on my back these days, but usually find myself flipped in the morning.) But I’ve grown used to this. We are adaptable creatures, we human animals.
But now, as my reconstruction process nears its end (fingers crossed!), as my body inches closer to appearing like it once did, my weekly visits to the surgeon have caused pain to roar up again. I recognize the irony of this: as the emotional health I feel in this new body increases, so too does my physical pain.
I’ve been getting back to myself activity-wise too. I’ve traveled, attended events, performed at readings, socialized: not at my full capacity, maybe—in Arizona, I went on only the easiest hikes—but enough that I felt like I was really getting back to life. .
This weekend I’d planned to travel to Woodstock to reunite with the Byrdcliffe residents from this past summer, to experience their work and share mine—but instead I’ll be in bed resting. This is something I’ve been looking forward to for awhile now, and I am disappointed. But I am also reminded that what I surrender now I surrender in exchange for a hopefully healthy future, that healing is not a linear process, and that, both physically and emotionally, getting “back to oneself” after some time away will usually present challenges.
In my disappointment, I went poking around my apartment in search of something to cheer me up. And I found this clay mask, the kind of thing I might usually have trouble finding time to indulge: a little luxury, a small something, but something nonetheless.