“What are you here for?”

I was early for Celebrate Recovery. I was the only one here until another woman joined me. She was probably in her fifties (I almost never guess ages right, so go figure.) We talked a lot – that intense form of conversation that only takes place before and after recovery meetings. The last question she asked me was this, “What are you here for?”

The week before a addict new to the group, tried to hand her sign off sheet to me. I told her I was an inmate. She didn’t openly scowl at me, but I got that look. I have drank a bottle of whiskey, only to black out and wake up to throw up, I’ve woken up in places I didn’t lay down, and I came to work too drunk to drive. Still, I only look about five years older than my actual age. I lost all that weight and that gave me wrinkles and bags under my eyes. Most of the other women, especially the ones with light skin like mine, all look like their life has been sucked out of them. If I look 5 years older, they look 15 years older than their chronological age.

I passed as staff in the hospital, during both of my stays. One of the women in her fifties had been in and out of the hospital a lot. She and I spent quite a lot of time together when she started giving me quizzical looks. People like you aren’t usually in here.

The almost blind woman I guided from her room to her meal asked how long I had been there. The cab driverl who rescued me from the car that wouldn’t stop, asked me what department I worked in.

I have been so pleased every-time that happened. I am a fresh, freckled face girl who is in her late thirties. I don’t know how long this will go on. If I am misidentified all the way through my life, because I have an invisible disabilities, will I never be who I truly am.

I have heard so many times that your illness, your relationships and your surroundings don’t make you who you are. You are something and someone else more and that is the greatest thing you will ever be and that thing is both a child of God and a member of His family. If this is who I am, all the other illnesses and clothes and debts are window dressing.

And yet they do not leave. If I dropped bipolar from my answering message “Hi, This is Malakoa,” “vs This is the Bipolar Malakoa.” I wouldn’t stop having this illness. My brain will not reshuffle.

My husband needs the computer.

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