On pain, reality and professionalism
By Sav Schlauderaff
Where can I talk about my pain?
Where can I explain that my body is bruised, and pinching and burning and tingling and vibrating and very clearly not here/too much here all at the same time? How can I talk about my fixation on my swollen and inflamed face, the way my mouth is too hot and tastes like blood, my stomach feels like the ache of being electrocuted by an electric fence—while also trying to “do academia”. That even in crip spaces, is it okay for me to be honest? I don’t want to scare you or overwhelm you with my vast and all-encompassing pain.
Can you feel the vibrations too?
What do you feel when you too are enveloped in the constant motion of my body?
How can I discuss the time and energy it takes for me to focus, to shake out of the dissociation, the hard work of attending to my eyes to try and make them focus, to try and see through the static, the fireworks, the gaps in vision.
I am trying to be present.
I want to be here.
I have worked hard to be here.
I am just so exhausted.
Be happy, be interested, be kind, be funny, be witty, be concise, be astute, be prepared.
Be an academic.
You don’t get to be tired or checked out.
We must perform !!
We must be put together. But how impossible that feels.
In what plane of “reality” are we on now?
I’m trying to put words together and speak them through my shaking, locking, throbbing mouth.
Do they see the new addition of facial tics? And why do these make me so self-conscious?
Do they see my body full of, no, overflowing with, energy?
My bodymindspirit is fractured, and yet full?
I am finding myself in contradictory spacetime here.
Feeling nothing and EVERYTHING all at once—yet again.
A return. A return. A return.
A return to fractured, to despair, to a working between worlds.
Always in multiple places/planes at once.
And yet the pain is what follows me, what has always been there.
What is your life like without pain? Can you describe it to me?
What does it feel like to be present and not constantly overwhelmed by thoughts, sounds, voices—are these “real”?
I know the pain is.
I am not here/I am too much here.
My bodymindspirit is a contradiction.
Can we talk about it?
Do you promise you won’t be scared? Do you promise you won’t pity me?
I’m not asking you to hold my pain, just to hold space. To listen to those of us who are too much, who are always too much. Do you promise there is space for my trauma and my pain? And when do these become synonymous?
Can I be honest now?