Happy “Lifeday”

Day of quarantine #80. Whenever everything seems lost, even yourself, think again and give yourself one more chance.

By Laly Steel

June 7, 2020

When I was born, I remember it vividly, as a pair of cold hands were pulling me out of the warm comfort of my mother’s womb, I thought “Forget about the blood and shit! Pen and paper! Now!” … But nobody got the expression on my face and I couldn’t talk… nor hold a pen… Forty-three years later, I’d say almost anything has changed…

Since the quarantine started, I begin feeling terrified. Due to the pandemic? That was “the least of my issues.” I was afraid of spending here in Argentina (where I don’t fit nor I belong) a grieving process, which extends from the last days of May until June 6.

Who died? The person I once was. Think about people who change the genre they were born with; after they do, they have a new identity and they become a new person; something like that is happening to me. 

Why was I terrified? Because during one of those grieving process (in 2017) I put my life in serious danger… and then I again in 2019 before getting my ADHD diagnose and treatment. And, of course, I did not (nor do) want to feel the need to that – stupid, stupid – thing again.

But how can I feel my old self is literally dead? Let’s see… When you meet someone, what do you ask them? You ask “What’s your name; where are you from; what do you do;” and if you’re a woman, you’ll most certainly will go like “When it’s your birthday? What’s your zodiac sign? OMG! The friend of my cousins’ plumber is a Gemini too!”

Out of those questions, that supposedly define who we are, there is only one I can answer with all confidence and without a “but”; what do I do: I write. (I’m not going to address the “which is your gender” question, because I could go on for hours; and I like boys… but “🎼 I kissed a girl and I liked it 🎼”)

Long story short: having moved so many times in my life – and having lived where I was born for a day or two (no one knows) – makes me say “I’m from nowhere.” Having found out – five years ago – that the two humans who raised me are not biological parents and they didn’t even bother to ask for my birthdate when they “got me”, makes me sick to my stomach when someone asks me for my legal name or my freaking birthday.

Sense of belonging, family, name, birthdays: gone.

Did I give up then? No, sir! Even though these losses, added to the traumas I had gone through, were wearing me down, I held on to life like a tick on a dog; I said to myself “I still have my brain; I still have my intelligence and I can write!” But then one more storm of shit rained down on me; my ADHD got out of control and a PTSD put my mind into a coma.

So I died…, eventually… My old self died.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been getting ready to claim the new “me”; I was going to be in New York by Earth Day, to arrange some final details so I could move next year for good; I had my DNA kit to search for my origins and I had had “the talk” with my parents, about what was going to happen when I’d go to the judge to fix my birth certificate and claim a new name.

But then the quarantine lock us all down, and I got stuck here, without family nor friends and far away (and crying for) the place my soul feels is its home; and, above all, without an identity.

So, for these past few weeks I’ve been on hold… Waiting … and wondering “June is coming; what will I feel? Am I ok? I’m good, right? Yeah, I think I’m good.” Some people say there are five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – and I’m happy to say that, today, I can see I’ve reached the final stage.

The grief has ended; even though I don’t have my “official new me”, even though I have no birthday nor people to celebrate my life with, I’ve come to realize that I do it every day. Every morning when I get up and I sit on the stationary bike for thirty minutes – without even brushing my teeth first – so I can get that first boost of energy that my brain needs to handle the methylphenidate and my hyperactivity, I’m celebrating being alive.

Every day we do something to feel good, to keep going, we are showing love to ourselves and thus we celebrate our lives… because every day comes with 24 (twenty-four) hours with new opportunities, and if we seize at least one hour or if we do at least one thing to feel our heart is still pumping, it is worth it.

When we struggle with mental health, when we struggle with an aching soul, there is no little thing we could do; everything matters.

If I had given up at any point of my life, I wouldn’t have had this ADHD treatment that has brought me back to life; moreover, I wouldn’t be here with a smile eager to inspire you to feel like I do. 

Even though every day is a struggle, and even though some days may feel like they are crushing us, if we can wake up the next morning and say “Maybe today; yes! I’ll do my best again today”, it’s a win.

When I was born, I remember it vividly, as a pair of cold hands were pulling me out of the warm comfort of my mother’s womb I thought “Forget about the blood and shit! Pen and paper! Now!” But nobody got the expression on my face and I couldn’t talk… nor hold a pen… Forty-three years later, I’d say almost anything has changed…

Nobody can see the pain behind my smile, and most of the times I feel nobody is listening… Some days I yell from the cliff of an abysm of solitude and my voice doesn’t even have an echo… But I can hold a pen now.

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